chapter  8
Settings: actors and stages
Pages 16

I was able to learn more about India and its theatre when I spent nine weeks directing King Lear at the National School of Drama in New Delhi. What engaged me almost daily was an unexpected way of running rehearsals and preparing for the show's opening. I am used to relying on a stage manager, with a number of assistants, to organise rehearsals and keep me and everyone else fully informed. From a stage manager's desk, he or she will eventually give cues for actors, light and sound operators, stage crew, and front of house manager. On this desk is 'the book' with every cue marked and numbered, and usually colour-coded, and the means for electronic and audio contact with everyone concerned. A computer screen will provide complex checks and keep tally of all that happens. In the theatres of Europe and North America, the stage manager is specially trained, highly skilled, much respected, and essential to the good running of any show. He or she copes with mishaps, broken properties, miscues, fire drills, understudy rehearsals, taking the show into new theatres on tour, re-rehearsing a production should a member of the cast have to be replaced, and so on. Once a show has opened, this person is in charge of all that happens on stage and will file daily reports with the management and director of the play. It follows that he or she has much to do with the 'company feeling’, the way in which many very variously gifted and motivated people work together. In New Delhi this was not the case and I soon came to realise that this was not at all remarkable, however uneasy I was made by this state of affairs.