After a four-month break from rehearsals, February saw me bringing out my Stage Management hat once again. I love my Stage Management Hat. It’s my favourite hat. If it was a real hat, it would be a simple black beret. Quiet and unassuming, you don’t mess with a person wearing a beret.
As I was dusting off this beautiful, metaphorical beret that definitely, 100% suits me, I realised I still had my Company Chair Hat (beanie, colour dependent on stress levels; practical and comforting) on. ‘Oh no,’ I thought. ‘How am I going to wear these two metaphorical hats at once? Beanie on beret? Beret on beanie? Ahhhh!’
This was very new. I’d never had to wear two hats at once before, and with the Super Important Thing That Involves Me Wearing Both Hats coming up fast, I had to figure out how to balance my time, energy and head.
1: Don’t try and put both hats on at once.
Multi-tasking is hard at the best of times, and trying to force your mind to think about two very different things at once is very tiring. Being stage manager for Constellations involves being in the rehearsal room, scheduling rehearsals, and keeping note of all the blocking and technical cues for the show to be able to run on the night. It’s a role that, to me, feels very at the centre of the process. Being Company Chair feels completely different. Rather than being at the heart of the action, you oversee it all, ensuring that everything is running smoothly and that the company is progressing in the way we want to be. Having both hats on at once feels a bit like zooming in and out very quickly. It makes you feel a bit dizzy. It’s far better to take one off, take a deep breath, then pop the other one on.
2: Realise that everyone else looks just as silly as you do.
The best thing about starting your own theatre company is doing it with your friends. Don’t get me wrong, it’s bloody hard work, and often very scary. But it’s really reassuring to realise that I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed with the demands of wearing two, or more, hats at once. With my Stage Management Hat on, I panic about how the cues and blocking and almost every note I have taken in the last few months is going to change for every single venue. We have six different versions of the show, and getting my head around how I’m going to keep track of it all is a little scary. Putting my Chair Hat on, I realise that everyone has it under control. Megan and Amy know the technical limitations of each venue and what is possible in each and are working so hard to adapt the show accordingly. Tom, Robbie, John and Hattie know the play inside out and any changes to the action will be worked on with no issues. From the outside, everyone is rocking the multiple hat look. But that doesn’t mean they don’t feel a little silly about having a couple of hats stacked on their head, too.
3: Take them off for a little while.
Working with such appreciative and understanding people made me realise that it’s totally fine to take your hats off for a while. Going on tour with Constellations is so incredibly exciting, but there’s nothing wrong with feeling overwhelmed. We’re an incredibly hard-working and passionate group who would probably try and wear every hat in the world at once if we could. Our debut tour is going to be fant-hat-stic*, I just know it. Don’t miss it!
*I couldn’t resist. Sorry.