SMMP Participants Meet Virtually for Mentorship

May 15, 2020

2019 Participants of Stage Management Mentor Project

Despite the conference being canceled, the Stage Management Mentor Project (celebrating its 30th anniversary this year) continued virtually.  Even without the hands-on experience the Conference events provide, all of this year’s participants benefitted from the networking and mentorship they received.

“What seemed to be the end of one experience was only the beginning for another. Cary Gillett and I have been working endlessly to create a virtual conference for the mentees this year, and we’ve taken some of the classic events that usually mentees would experience first-hand at the conference and provided them online. Uniquely, this cohort has been dealing with the canceling of graduations, loss of jobs, and isolation within their homes, and because of this, we understood that they need to have a sense of community for them to rely on. To help combat some of this stress, we hosted a spirit week on the SMMP Facebook page for what would have been the week of the conference; letting the 2020 cohort know that our web reaches far. Being a part of the Stage Management Mentor Program has introduced me to a family that I never knew I had. It has helped me understand my passion for stage management and helped me gain confidence in my abilities. Being a part of this extraordinary program has given me a new perspective of what being a stage manager means.”

-Amariah Williams, returning mentee


“Being a part of this unique year of SMMP has greatly inspired me. Although hardships and problems occur, it is the role of the stage manager to help solve these situations. SMMP has taught me that no matter the situation, pandemic or otherwise, people will connect, network, and learn. I long for face to face connection, but I have now taught myself the art of video calls, digital networking, and online communication technology through participating in SMMP. SMMP looked different this year than it has in the past, but I am now a more resilient and adaptable stage manager because of this experience.”

-Kaylee Osentowski, current mentee


“SMMP has always been a program that has meant the world to me. When I got the chance to be a mentor this year, I thought of it as a personal and professional highlight. Given the cancelation of the conference and the closure of much of the industry, I was extra sad as I thought it meant the end of SMMP 2020 as well. I have been so happy to be wrong about that. SMMP 2020 has been a showcase of the resilience of stage managers. By quickly transitioning the SMMP experience into an online video conference model, we’ve been able to hold round tables, resume review sessions, and connect one on one with each other. It’s really been an incredible experience. We even had a giant video conference with 60+ alumni of the program to celebrate 30 years of SMMP. To say it has been the light of my shelter-in-place is an understatement, and I am incredibly proud to be a member of this year’s group (with or without the blue lanyard.)”

-Travis Blackwell, former mentee and current mentor


"Although we weren't able to gather formally at the conference, my mentorship with SMMP continued in the most amazing way. Through virtual round tables with every mentor, resume workshops, and check-in calls with my wonderful cohort, I was able to virtually meet some amazing people and continue my professional growth as a stage manager. I was able to gain advice on my future career and able to express myself so openly with my cohort even if it was from my bedroom.”

-Itzel Martinez, current mentee and former Gateway mentee


“As an early career stage manager, I have been struggling to find my place in the professional world, so I was looking forward to attending the conference and developing a new network.  Thankfully, the mentors, and some of the mentees, were able to help answer questions and share personal experiences that alleviated my anxieties. I am grateful that everyone in the virtual meetings was on the same page; we all knew this experience was going to be vastly different from years past, and everyone went in with an open mind and with the goal to still maintain mentorship as an important aspect of this program despite the cancellation.”

-Alexandra Bowden, current mentee


“This is my first year as a mentor for the SMMP and I couldn’t wait to get started. While I did not meet this year's group of mentors and mentees in Houston as planned, I am inspired by the community we formed through the online platform. Multiple virtual sessions were scheduled in which mentors and mentees held meaningful conversations about various stage management topics - networking, books to read, cover letters and resumes, even discussions about taxes! I applaud the mentees for their resilience and determination this year. I strongly feel that the SMMP mentors and mentees will positively influence my own experience as an educator and a practitioner.”

-Casey Hagwood, current mentor


“As a former mentee, the SMMP will always have a special place in my heart. It is where I have met so many dear friends and colleagues, both starting me on my journey in entertainment as well as providing perspective and cherished advice.  This year the stakes were different, the stress of the moment more present, yet the lesson remained identical to previous years: we are better united together to face the challenges of the world. There will be struggles in the years ahead, but I am delighted to have my USITT family to weather the storm to come.”

-John Grüber, former mentee, and current mentor