The Women of the Yeshiva College Dramatics Society
It’s a Monday evening. I am standing on the corner of 34th and Park, waiting to get on the 6:45PM shuttle to the Heights. The corner is packed with Stern students discussing their plans for the evening. The majority of the women before me are going to study in the library. Some are meeting up with their significant others for their weekly date night. Some just want to make the trek uptown for a better dinner than what the 245 caf is offering that night. As for me? I am going up for a play rehearsal with the Yeshiva College Dramatics Society (YCDS).
This semester, I am taking on the position as stage manager for the YCDS spring production, Biloxi Blues. I’m familiar and pretty comfortable with such a position. I’ve been involved with the society for three semesters, where I play a silent role. I’ve sat in on board meetings, discussing ideas for the spring play. I’ve helped organize events for a group of boys who wouldn’t know where to start. It’s a hard job, but rewarding nonetheless.
In the years since I started Stern College, girls have slowly been creeping behind the scenes of YCDS. I say slowly, because it takes a while to get to the position that I hold. There are days where I think about how odd it is that more and more women want to get involved with the guys’ productions. Maybe it’s the fact that the director for the guys is a woman. Maybe someone wanted to expand her horizons and get out of the nucleus that is the Beren Campus. I have my personal reasons for why I joined YCDS. But the fact is that the numbers keep growing and every play has more and more women in the credits.
The women of YCDS span different departments. We’re not allowed to act onstage - something most of us wouldn’t want to do anyway. There are women in the Props department, who help assemble anything and everything that the actors need throughout the show. It’s a pretty big job, as the actors always seem to remember something that they need at the last second. There are women in the graphics department, working on the playbill, making sure that everything written is correct and that the photos used are up to the standards of both the actors and the broader populace. It’s a time-sensitive job, and the girls have taken to it amazingly. There are women in the Lighting department, assuring that all the lighting for the stage is in top shape and that nothing will unexpectedly malfunction. Each job is integral for the formation of this show and the Drama Society.
And then there’s me - the Stage Manager. At least, that’s my official title. I handle anything and everything that deals with the backstage elements. I make sure that the costumes and props are in order so that I don’t hear the actors say they don’t have something. I deal with the lighting and sound, assuring that all the ideas that the director has will properly come to fruition. I constantly handle emails from the director - either with some new idea she has to enhance the production or anything else that pertains with backstage.
My biggest job as stage manager? I deal with the actors in the show. I know about anything that they possibly need before they even have to say it. I am aware of every person’s schedule in case he can’t make a rehearsal. I call the times for every rehearsal and send actors daily reminders - you should see the amount of emails… it’s a lot. I act as a friend to them, because they truly have become some of my closest friends. I’ve become the actors’ personal therapist - whenever there is an issue, play-related or not, I seem to be the first person they contact since I seem to always have the solution they are looking for. I created the cast Whatsapp group so that they know what is happening behind the scenes, up to the minute. I can truly say that each of the actors is a special person. It shows through their acting abilities. It’s amazing to see how they’ve grown - not just as characters, but as people. Each time they rehearse, they get better and better, and it makes me remember why I deal with all the chaos in the first place. I feel a sense of protection towards them. At the end of the day, I know they feel the same towards me.
You might ask, what’s the point in being involved? It might just be me being prideful of the fact that we are the select few who get to be in something bigger than us. Maybe I like the fact that YCDS was willing to give us women the jobs that we would’ve had to fight for in other drama societies. Maybe it looks good on the resume that you participated in something that forced you out of your comfort zone. No matter what the reason is, we are all involved and, despite its occasional hiccups, we wouldn’t want it any other way.