Spotlight: Stage manager Ben Karlin

Julia Long

Sitting in the stands shouting “Let’s go, Cubbies” in “Bleacher Bums” may be the dream role for some involved in the theater  program, but not for senior Ben Karlin. He prefers to work behind the scenes.

Brief stints in high school introduced Karlin to the world of theater. But his passion remained undiscovered until he was offered the position of stage manager for a Linfield play in September 2007.

As a novice, Karlin treated the show, “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind,” as a learning experience and improved his conduct as stage manager after every rehearsal.

“I’m not an actor at heart,” Karlin said. “The show doesn’t happen without the stage manager, and I like being such an integral part of the production.”

Karlin managed his first full-scale production, “The Waiting Room,” in the spring of 2007 and now manages “Bleacher Bums.” 

The importance of the position of stage manager should not be overlooked, Karlin said. Just like any athletic commitment on campus, rehearsals for shows are five days a week for three hours at a time. The stage manager’s duties include prepping the theater 30 minutes prior to each rehearsal, a serious time requirement.

“Ben is very dedicated to what he does,” freshman Alessandra Downing, who plays a role in “Bleacher Bums,” said.

“He is a hard worker and is always on top of his game.”

In addition to maintaining the theater, the stage manager organizes most of the production elements with the individuals involved. If a cast or crew member or the director has a question, Karlin needs to have the answer.

“It takes a certain type of person to handle being yelled at when they’ve done nothing wrong,” Karlin said. “One of the job’s downfalls is that when something does go wrong, people tend to take their frustrations out on me.”

Karlin said good stage managers are in high demand because of the nature of the job, such as maintaining everyone’s sanity and holding the show together.

“It’s a delicate balancing act between helping the actors and being forceful and stern enough to correct them when they’re wrong,” Karlin said.


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