“The Skin of Our Teeth” was “a big undertaking, their main stage show of the year,” says Kirk. “I was able to bring the perspective of a professional stage manager to the production, although all the design, lighting and projection was done by the students. The play featured a lot of video and projection with many projection surfaces being set pieces.”
Greg Justice, a professor in the department who directed “The Skin of Our Teeth,” says, “I truly love academic theater when it is a win/win situation for all involved. Having Ryan Kirk as alumni guest stage manager for Virginia Tech's production of â€˜The Skin of Our Teeth' has succeeded in being a win/win for the entire program.
“First, the Department of Theatre & Cinema got to honor one of their own by inviting them back to the place that helped them get their professional start. Second, the production Ryan was involved in benefited from having a professional stage manager with several years of experience at its helm. Finally, current theater and cinema majors who were both in the production and taking the Advanced Stage Management class from Ryan benefited from his knowledge, background and first-hand experience of working both as a stage manager and event planner in New York City.”
Justice selected Kirk when offered the opportunity to have a guest alumni stage manager for “The Skin of Our Teeth.” “Although I never had the opportunity to work with him while he was here as an undergraduate, I was always aware of his quality work with other directors,” he reports. “My choice of him for this challenging and difficult play of Thornton Wilder's was perfect. He made my job exponentially easier, and he has aided in building an ensemble that includes over 200 contributing artists. It has been a pure joy.”
Kirk took a very practical approach to his Advanced Stage Management class, enlisting his personal experiences in the field to help students see the industry's big picture.
“I stage managed theater all through college but have been primarily handling production management for events since we opened Tinc,” says Kirk. “So it was very cool to bring a lot of things to the students from the events world that they normally wouldn't have access to. At the same time, it served as an introduction for them to other avenues – opera, dance, event and production management – that use the same skill sets they're developing. They learned that there are a lot of different ways to use their theater skills.”
Kirk explored many practical areas with the students: what to expect when leaving college, the life of a freelancer, how to market yourself, how to handle referrals. He even had them make up business cards and invoices.
“The project culminated in a more in-depth look at production management,” he explains. “I had them do preproduction on a mock event with everything from budgeting to booking and scheduling. The students had fun and learned a great deal in the process. It was a class that was truly unique to the school.”
"The students and faculty here at Virginia Tech have been so impressed with the approaches and tools that Ryan has introduced in his capacity as Guest Artist. He has us thinking about stage management in a whole new way,” says Patricia Raun, Director, School of Performing Arts and Cinema Head, Department of Theatre & Cinema.
"We have deeply appreciated the professionalism, maturity, organization and calm that Ryan has displayed. He is a great role model and mentor for our students."
The creative team for “The Skin Of Our Teeth” included, Dylan Amick as Assistant Director, Bill Barksdale as Technical Director, Donnie Brooks on Projectors, Kate Burnham as Prop Designer, Jessica Carson as Lighting Designer, Amanda Cox as Dramaturg, Shaozhou Cui as Photographer, Carly Erickson as Assistant Stage Manager, Kevin Frazier as Assistant Lighting Designer, Theresa Harmon as Costumer Designer, Gregory Justice as Director, Ryan Kirk as Stage Manager, C.J. Mellides as Sound Designer and Head Electrician, Jackie Mullen as Assistant Stage Manager, Cara Rawlings as First Choreographer and Acting Coach, Adam Ressa as Scenographer and Jane Stein as Dinosaur Designer.
About Tinc Design & Productions
Tinc Design & Productions is a full-service staging, lighting, video and audio company dedicated to the performance and special events markets. Tinc's staff and dedicated freelance personnel encompass the worlds of engineering, rigging, programming, design, drafting, lighting, audio and live/mediated motion and still images. Project after project, and with over 50 years of combined experience, they offer a comprehensive and sophisticated range of services unmatched anywhere else. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.tincproductions.com.
For more information about the Virginia Tech's Theater and Cinema department, visit www.theatre.vt.edu.