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Kristen Murphy
Individualized Major Program

Last modified: Tuesday, February 12, 2008

IU senior is the winner of the 2008 Young Stage Manager Award

Feb. 12, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A hectic schedule has paid off for Indiana University Bloomington senior Claire Diedrich, winner of the 2008 Young Stage Manager Award from the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT). Diedrich, a double major studying stage management through the Individualized Major Program (IMP) and theatre with an emphasis in design, is the first person from IU to win a national USITT award.

The Young Stage Manager Award, sponsored by Clear-Com Communication Systems, carries a cash prize of $1,000 and is given to "a young stage manager who has demonstrated excellence or outstanding potential in the area of stage management in the performing arts while pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree." The award will be presented March 20 in Houston, Texas.

Claire Diedrich

Claire Diedrich behind the scenes of an IU production.

"She is the perfect blend of artist, organizer and manager," said David Grindle, production manager in the IU Department of Theatre and Drama. He also is Diedrich's IMP sponsor. "She is respected by directors and actors as a stage manager who looks to create an environment in which they can focus on being creative artists."

Originally from Arlington Heights, Ill., Diedrich has been pursuing stage management since middle school, when she started working behind the scenes on school plays. By high school, she had decided on stage management as a career, and selected IU as the best environment to facilitate her goals. She wasted no time, and in her sophomore year she already had moved from assisting stage managers to calling the shots on IU productions.

Diedrich has worked on plays at the Brown County Playhouse and the Ruth N. Halls Theatre at IU. She also worked with Opera Australia in Sydney during her internship last summer, where she assisted with the Australian premiere of André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire.

"She showed a maturity and understanding of the art form that many others strive for," Opera Australia Senior Stage Manager Crissie Higgins said. "Claire was always attentive and sensitive to the needs of not just the performers, but also the technical and artistic staff involved."

Succeeding as a stage manager requires coordinating all aspects of the performance, Diedrich said.

"As the stage manager, I work with the scenic shop, the props department, the sound and the costumes, and the directors and the actors," Diedrich said. "Stage management wears a lot of different hats -- running the rehearsals, arranging costume fittings, relaying notes from the director. And then, once we get into tech week when we add the lights and the costumes and the sound, the stage manager calls the light cues and the sound cues, and directs any flying pieces and moving pieces. And once the show opens, it's no longer the director's show. It's the stage manager's responsibility."

The position demands most of Diedrich's time during rehearsals when she must be present six days a week to set up and tear down for each rehearsal, check in with the technical departments each day, and stay on top of a load of paperwork having to do with such things as schedules, contact lists and prompt books. Even before the play is cast, she'll spend two or three months meeting with the designers and the director to refine the plans.

Despite the frenzied schedule it requires, Diedrich plans to dive right into professional life following her graduation this May. She said she doesn't have a strong preference for which type of theater she works in or where; she only wants to get started as soon as possible.

"I'd like to try out the different fields to see which one I like best," she said. "I did enjoy opera, which I would like to revisit again. I am in the process of applying to a lot of places at the moment. For the most part, if I can live affordably, I will move there."

Audiences can enjoy the fruits of Diedrich's labors this spring with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, showing at the Ruth N. Halls Theatre April 11, 12 and 15-19 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased from the IU Auditorium Box Office at 1211 E. Seventh St., or by phone from Ticketmaster at 812-333-9955. For more information, visit