Meet the Production Stage Manager for Mother Earth's Gallery of Broken Things



poster for climate change


Interview with Maura Kesterson, Production Stage Manager for Mother Earth's Gallery of Broken Things, written by Theatre 200 Marketing Practicum student Madeline Collins. 

Mother Earth’s Gallery of Broken Things is now open through Sunday, May 2, 2021. The production has been in development since late December with many people’s creative minds sharing input. Today, I sat down with sophomore Maura Kesterson, the production stage manager, to learn more about the development of the piece.

What is the audience experience going to be like?

It is going to be so unique and probably something that nobody has ever seen before. It will be like a guided tour instead of a regular performance. The audience will be experiencing a lot of different types of theatre, like high tech and low tech moments. It will be a lot more intimate than a performance the audience is used to.

kesterson.jpgWhat are your weekly tasks as a stage manager for the people that do not know?

My job is to facilitate communication and make sure that everything is organized. I send a daily call every night before rehearsal the next day to tell everyone when, where, who, and what they will be doing for that rehearsal. I run production meetings to make sure everything is running smoothly for tech elements. I take notes at rehearsals. As Marly likes to say, my job is everything and nothing. In any project communication is important, but especially for this one with so many people involved.

How has the creative process been so far?

It has been very different and a good challenge in the best way. We have very specific outdoor locations that we need to work with which brings out a lot of opportunities. One of our locations is the secret garden outside of Amos Music Library where we have one actor up in a window and the other below. That is super unique, but it also brings challenges like random noise and controlling traffic. It has been challenging, but the team has worked really hard to make this a great experience.

How was this piece developed?

It started last semester when Dr. Ann Elizabeth Armstrong had the idea to do a site-specific piece of theatre about climate change. We created a team in late December and met weekly during January to choose the plays. The process was very from the ground up as we started talking and ideating what we wanted it to look like. Once we decided on the plays and cast the parts, designs started to come in for scenery, lights, and sound. We started with rehearsals on zoom, until it was warm enough for us to rehearse outside.

What do you hope audience members take away from this performance?

I hope they have a great experience with live theatre. With the pandemic, we have been in a drought of live theatre opportunities. It is exciting to do something live with a live audience. In addition, I hope that the audience learns about their role in climate change and makes changes in their daily lives as they see the connection between the arts and social justice issues like climate change.

What is your favorite part of the piece?

I really enjoyed working with the cast. They make it feel less like a job. I have enjoyed seeing each of the plays develop over time and get better and better. Especially Tyler Creech’s piece, “When They Twinkle” because it is the only student-written piece. That one was very interesting to be on the inside to see how the rewrites have been developed to make it better.

For more information about free ticketing, please visit Miami University’s Box Office HERE. This is a free event but it will be ticketed to maintain safe capacity and social distancing. For more information please visit the MU Theatre website HERE.

If you go:

Mother Earth’s Gallery of Broken Things: Miami University Theatre’s Climate Change Theatre Action, Directed by Ann Elizabeth Armstrong

April 29, 30 & May 1, 2, 7:30 p.m., Center for Performing Arts Plaza
Rain Dates: May 2 & 3

Short Performances: 

“Failed Experiment” by Vitor Jatoba

“The Butterfly that Persisted” by Lana I. Nasser

“Blood on the Leaves” by Madeline Sayet

“About that Chocolate Bar” by Joan Lipkin

“The Blue Puzzle” by Clare Duffy

“When they Twinkle” by Tyler Creech

“Brackendale” by Elaine Avila  

“Letter to the Ocean” by Caridad Svich

“It begins with Me” by Chantal Bilodeau

The team designing the production experience includes: students Tyler Creech (scene design); Kelsi Moore, Lily Rose, Annie Watson, Qiuyang Xiong (dramaturgs); Emily Stowers (assistant choreographer); Kevin Woeste (composer and sound designer); Jenna Wrona (lighting design); Taylor Yaeck (costume designer); Miami University faculty and staff members Gion DeFrancesco (production manager and designer); Ashley Goos (choreographer) Meggan Peters (costume) Curtis Mortimore (lighting/technical direction); and guest artists Jaclyn Schott (director) and Jason Sebasian (sound design).