Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone sweep your floors, make sure everything is in its place, and then deal with any problems you may have as they arise? For senior Miranda Baxter, it’s a day in the life of a stage manager, and she’s the one doing the work.
The Creede, Colo., native was recently the stage manager for the South Bend Civic Theatre production, A Flea in Her Ear. With a double major in philosophy and theatre , Baxter is open to a number of career opportunities, but has stage manager at the top of her list. She came to it via an Improvisation class she took with professor Katie Sullivan the fall of her junior year.
“She was looking for a stage manager for the show she’d be directing in the spring, which was Stop Kiss,” says Baxter. After none of the current theatre majors opted to do it, Baxter stepped up to the plate. “Stage managing was something I’d always wanted to try but had never gotten the chance, so I agreed to do it. As it turned out, I fell madly in love with my job in the show, even if I’d never had any previous skills as a leader.” Baxter worked with theatre professor Mark Abram-Copenhaver to put a plan together for her to complete her theatre major in two semesters.
Not only has Baxter taken charge behind the scenes as a stage manager, she is also active in a circle of the Daughters of Isabella, a club she helped establish at Saint Mary’s. As a charitable Catholic organization for women, they work closely with the Knights of Columbus at the University of Notre Dame, raising money for charities by selling handcrafted jewelry and knitted items to the public who come to the Notre Dame home football games. Baxter was taught to knit by her grandmother and considers it more than a pastime. “If I sit down to watch a movie or a TV show, I can’t sit and be idle while doing so; my hands must be moving so that I can have a feeling of producing something useful,” says Baxter.
That same innate work ethic, along with her Saint Mary’s education, will take her far when she’s ready to take the next step in the work world. “Saint Mary’s has taught me the leadership skills I need to be a stage manager, although I think it was done subconsciously,” says Baxter. “Before I came to Saint Mary’s I was shy, rarely spoke to defend myself, and almost always avoided conflicts with others. Now I have the necessary skills to stand up and lead a cast and a crew in order to create successful productions.”