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Cornish Co-Hosts Virtual 2021 Theatre Puget Sound Stage Managers Networking Event

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By Bret Torbeck, assistant professor of stage management

Bret Torbeck is the assistant professor of stage management at Cornish College of the Arts. Torbeck joined the Cornish Performance Production department with over 25 years of experience working as a professional stage manager and as a member of the Actors’ Equity Association. He recently served as resident stage manager at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, when the company designed and executed a $30 million renovation to their main stage.


May 26, 2021— I am still smiling from working the past two days (and several months before that) to help run the virtual 2021 Theatre Puget Sound Stage Management Networking Event. In conjunction with the board of Theatre Puget Sound and several current students and alums of the Cornish College of the Arts Performance Production department, we created a forum for over 70 Puget Sound based stage managers to meet with representatives from 23 local theatre companies to discuss future plans and possible collaborations.

Organizing the event, like so many things, proved to be more complicated than expected! And running a Zoom event in which half the participants (give or take) stayed in a couple dozen breakout rooms, while the rest of the participants were to be continually rotated, proved to be a giant challenge. It was incredibly fulfilling to be on a team, problem-solving these major issues alongside these Cornish stage managers: Quinn Chase (‘21), Olivia Toombs (‘19), Bel Barrueta (‘21), DJ Briggs, Emily Grierson, and Larcyn Burnett. We were also joined and greatly helped by Emily Harvey, president of the TPS Board, Ruth Eitemiller, stage management mentor at Seattle University and Seattle-based stage manager. This was truly a group effort. I highly recommend you get these people on your team if you are organizing a thorny and complicated event!  

At 4:30 p.m. yesterday (Tuesday, May 25) we looked at each other in a slight daze, but deeply satisfied that despite all the challenges we had been part of making a successful event that brought joy in the immediate moment and will, we hope, improve lives in the future. Next year, we look forward to doing it again and working harder to expand the population of Global Majority stage managers in the Puget Sound region.

Theatre Organizations that participated in the event included: 18th & Union, 5th Avenue Theatre, ACT Theatre, Acts On Stage Theatre, Book-It Theatre, Brown Soul Productions, Dacha Theatre, Intiman Theatre, MAP Theatre, Pork Filled Productions, Reboot Theatre, Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Seattle Public Theatre, Seattle Rep, Showtunes Theatre Company, Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center, Theatre22, Twelfth Night Productions, Village Theatre, Village Theatre KidStage, and Washington Ensemble Theatre.

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