A Shout Out to Jaimie Van Dyke
On Monday, September 20th, Jaimie Van Dyke received the 2010 Outstanding Stage Manager Award from the IT Awards. Blessed Unrest's Artistic Director, Jessica Burr and Managing Director, Matt Opatrny presented the award "in recognition of her uncanny ability to think on the fly, her extraordinary organizing and communication skills, and for doing it all with humor and love for her cast and crew."
Dave Edson has worked closely with Jaimie Van Dyke and shares his personal experiences of being on the road with this amazing stage manager.
Jaimie Van Dyke is fearless…or is she foolish? Perhaps both. Either way, I want her on my side.
The art of stage managing is delicately balancing the right things at the right times. And then if need be, switching gears at a moment’s notice, staying cool all the while. Prioritizing and executing while multitasking is most definitely easier said than done and is certain to unravel the average mortal.
Yet, Jaimie thrives is these environments and it doesn’t seem to matter if the circumstances are familiar or otherwise. And she’ll still be enjoying a beer with you after it all unfolds.
Case in point, last year I had the pleasure of touring the Balkans with a very demanding and invigorating show with Jaimie and Blessed Unrest called Doruntine. We were doing one-a-days out of town when we weren’t performing on our temporary home turf at Teatri Oda in Pristina, the capital of Kosova.
When heading out on the road, Jaimie insisted that she leave hours earlier than the actors to absolutely ensure that everything was working properly and ready to go for everyone else involved. The circumstances were less than ideal: Dirt roads, locked theatres, missing in action local technicians, out of date light boards, stages littered with nails waiting for the barefoot actors…oh, and little to no English. The look on the faces of some of these guys upon hearing that this young woman was now in charge was priceless!
Every actor wants a stage manager who strikes just the right balance between the business and the art. Someone who will take care of you but not be all up in your face. As actors, we enjoy the adventure of discovery when it comes to investigating a script, a character, or a new space. And in order for us to fully invest in this process, it is essential that other things be taken care of. With Jaimie at the helm, I can always rest assure that all will be well.
Every director wants a stage manager to help keep time and focus and occasionally act as a trusted second outside eye. Jaimie not only does this effortlessly, but she simultaneously keeps a pulse on the director, the actors, and the show. She possesses the ability to assess what everyone and everything needs at just the right time. And we still get our proper breaks!
Every audience member, whether they realize it or not, owes a great deal to a great stage manager. Throughout the rehearsal process, Jaimie consistently acts as both an audience member and a fan- a fan of the company, the show, the director, the techies, the designers, the actors, and the audience. And come opening night, it’s the stage manager who is pulling everything together so we can all share the collective experience of theatre.
What I am most grateful for when it comes to Jaimie is that after it’s all said and done and somehow the magic happened and we’re all finally enjoying that much deserved beer, Jaimie gives the perfect compliments. They are essentially secrets, observations that could only possibly come from tremendously hard work and attention to detail. Jaimie notices and acknowledges what you have been working on so, so hard for so, so long. And that feels so, so good.