Q & A with Victoria Leatherman
The summer of 2020 brought exciting new experiences for Victoria Leatherman, a senior Theatre major with a concentration in Scenic and Lighting Design, as she was chosen as a Stage Management Intern for the elite summer program at Stagedoor Manor. During our interview, the Columbia, SC native goes in depth about how she was able to work with a program that has famous alumni such as Robert Downey Jr. and Lea Michele. She also shares how she and her colleagues adjusted to an online platform with the Covid-19 pandemic.
What is Stagedoor Manor?
Stagedoor Manor is a theatre training camp for students ages 10-18, located in Upstate New York. Every summer the kids participate in three-week sessions where they take classes, live in residence halls and are cast in the shows. Each session sees the rehearsal of a different show which culminates in two performances.
How were you selected for your internship?
I went to the job fair at the Southeastern Theatre Conference this past February. This fair is an incredible opportunity for those looking for jobs or internships in the theatre industry. You can go from booth to booth speaking to the different companies about their potential jobs. One reason I chose Stagedoor Manor is because their line was long, so I figured that meant they were a great company to work for. They called me back after a few days and offered me the internship.
What was a typical day like working at Stagedoor?
Due to Covid-19 it was all online and Zoom. This was exciting, as I was able to interact with students and teachers from all over the world. I had a student from Indonesia, and I worked with a teacher from Australia and a stage manager from Amsterdam. It was crazy! Everyday we would log into Zoom and each host classes from 12 noon to 5pm with a short break in the middle. In the evenings, we had rehearsal for our show from 5 to 8pm. At night the camp would have recreation time such as game nights, movie nights or talent shows.
What was your favorite aspect of the job?
I really liked the opportunity of working with people from all over the world. Even though we were online it still felt like we were a family. We knew we would face some challenges being fully online, but the atmosphere that was created was wonderful.
Who are some famous alumni at Stagedoor?
There are so many that I don’t know where to start. Some alumni that come to mind are Robert Downey Jr., Lea Michele, Zach Braff, Ansel Elgort, Skylar Astin, Natalie Portman, Jon Cryer and Mandy Moore. Many of the famous alumni end up sending their own kids. One of my fellow counselors had a kid who was ten years old and rolled up in a limousine by herself!
What shows did you all perform while you were there?
Each stage manager did three shows. We didn’t do any musicals, because it would be too difficult due to Covid and being online. Instead we did small-scale plays titled Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Neighborhood 3, Requisition of Doom and Lovesick. We called the performances “Zoomformances” where we had sound cues and virtual backgrounds for each character. The kids designed the lighting and costumes themselves.
How will your experience at Stagedoor help you both during and after college?
Since everything was virtual, it forced me to be more comfortable depending on technology (I was not a fan of using technology on shows before this summer.) With the uncertainty of what theatre will be, this was very helpful. I’m currently working on a virtual Monologue Showcase for the Department of Theatre and Dance, so I’m getting to share what I’ve learned with the department through that showcase.
It’s also really helped me learn how to network which is essential outside of school. Since this was my first professional gig as a stage manager, it was so important that I receive good references and build good relationships to use later on in my career.