Risa Tapanes

Production Stage Manager, ‘The Williston Scholars Variety Hour’

The Scholar: Risa Tapanes

The Project: Production Stage Manager for “The Williston Scholars Variety Hour”

The Essential Question: Ms. Tapanes served as production stage manager and technical consultant for the other Performing Arts Williston Scholars, working with each of the five live theater acts through the development process and stage managing the class’s February 25, 2018 Variety Hour at the Williston Theater. As the shows were being developed, she assisted with budgets, set work, costume acquisition, and more; on the night of the performance, she oversaw the lighting, sound, and other technical tasks.

Notable Quote: “We knew the other kids in the class were going to have live performances, and every live performance needs a stage manager. But the production stage manager is there from the start of these pieces being created, helping the artists, knowing where they want to go with pieces technically. So if they want a costume, I’ll be the one to search online and try to work with them on what they want, and then going though budgeting—can we afford that?—or, if they want a set that looks a certain way, asking is our space capable of doing what they want, and if not, how can we make it work for them?”

Biggest Challenge: “Working with new artists and new shows that were being built from the ground up. In the past, I’ve worked with Emily [Ditkovski] and Charles [Raffetto] on shows that have been performed thousands of times, but these are up-and-coming artists who are writing their pieces alongside me trying to help them. Sometimes they’ll have an idea at the beginning of the trimester and then a couple weeks in, they’ll completely change what they want to do. So it’s a balance of having to work with them and being supportive, but also knowing how to stay on top of things.”

Surprising Discovery: “I know as someone who has been on the technical side that there’s a lot more than you think, but I didn’t know there was so much with budgeting, even on small projects.”

Tip for Future Scholars: “If you don’t have a solid idea, it’s okay to talk about that with your teacher. My project was pretty unconventional for the Performing Arts realm of Williston Scholars. Not that Williston Scholars has been around for that long, but nobody has really done something like this before. I originally wanted to do something like the rest of them, where I would create my own piece and have other people act in it, but as someone who was looking to go to college for technical theater, I felt like this might be a better way to gain real world and practical experience for my resume.”