Stage Manager as Storyteller



Actors play the stage. Directors guide the actors, but the stage manager… What actually does a stage manager do?

This schooner from Pirates of Penzance may not look like Joanna, but she is the propulsion for it.
This schooner from Pirates of Penzance may not look like Joanna, but she is the propulsion for it.

Hello, I am Joanna Ruhl, the stage manager for Pericles and a jack of all trades. You won’t see me on the stage, but behind the scenes I have many jobs. Communication between the entire company, documentation of rehearsals, and acting as an unofficial sounding board are a few of my many roles within Hoosier Shakes this summer, not to mention keeping the shows on their feet when the directors leave. Fortunately, I share this responsibility with Elizabeth (Bizzy) Miner, the stage manager for Twelfth Night.

Joanna in the play Seven.
Joanna in the play Seven.

I have always been a storyteller, but more or less stumbled upon theater as a profession. Since I was young, I have had eclectic interests. I liked to use my hands to craft and create without neglecting the more analytical side of my brain. When searching for colleges my majors of choice ranged from molecular biology to theater. I picked theater. It wasn’t that molecular biology didn’t fascinate me, but rather that deep down I always looked for the story involved. Once this realization hit me, things fell into place and I landed at Indiana Wesleyan University as a Theater Major.

Here, in theater, I found a home for all my eclectic interests. Any particular day moves from constructing or painting a set with my hands to the study of the rhetoric and words of a script with my mind, moving in and out of a 3D conceptual image till it becomes a reality for the audience. I believe this is the magic of theater: to watch as words from a page become worlds on a stage. My job as a stage manager is to protect and guide this process so the production can blossom before the audience with a connection through story. I am honored this summer to join the team of Hoosier Shakes to bring Pericles and Twelfth Night from the page to the stage for the people of Grant County and beyond.

Joanna’s scene design (before & after) for “Love, Marriage, and a Baby Carriage.”


Twelfth Night and Pericles will be performed in repertory at Charley Creek Gardens in Wabash, IN, June 8-12 and the 3rd Street Courtyard in Marion, IN, June 15-19 and 22-26. Pre show entertainment will commence at 7:00 PM. shows will begin at 7:30 PM. Approximately run-time for each show is 2 hours and 15 minutes. Bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating.

Performances are offered on a Pay-What-You-Will basis. If you like what you see, make a donation to Hoosier Shakes, Inc. during intermission or after the show. Donations may be made online through the Hoosier Shakes account on Paypal: Login to and send money to “”.

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