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Crew Love is True Love: Or My Experience With Leadership

 Written by    February 28, 2014

I’ve blogged a lot in the past about my involvement in one of the best student organizations on campus:  Off the Lake Productions.  For those of you who don’t know, OTL is a completely student run musical theater and service organization.  Every spring we put on a musical and throughout the year we find awesome and fun ways to serve the community.  To say OTL is a defining part of my college experience may be an understatement.

So since OTL is such a big part of my life, this year I’ve stepped up into a leadership role: Co-Stage Manager.  If you’ve done theater work before one of the first things you will notice about OTL is that we use the term stage manager incorrectly.  Basically what I and the other awesome co-stage manager do is represent the entire crew to the group and lead the building of a set for our production.  This means buying supplies, scheduling build times, and teaching crew members how to build a set.

I think a lot of upper classmen face the decision of taking on leadership roles.  My first two years in OTL my biggest worries were making friends and showing up on time.  But by the natural order of things, I happen to be one of remaining the crew members who knows the most about the group.  And most importantly I want to do for new members of OTL what my predecessors (and now best friends/roommate) did for me.  So for those of you stuck with similar decisions of time commitments and student leadership, here’s a list of the things I absolutely love about being stage manager this year.


  1. Making Decisions:  Being in the know is the greatest thing in the world.  It’s always very irritating as a crew member not to know quite why you are building a set piece or why you are moving heavy lumber around the storage space for the third time of the semester.  It’s also frustrating when you see something that needs to be done/could be done better and can’t say something about it.  This year if I see that we need to sweep up or paint something a different color I say so and it gets done.
  2. Providing for the Future: OTL is a small group and we run on limited funds.  Because of this our crew has never really owned any power tools.  We have relied on the kindness of parents with drills or the occasional saw.  This always makes it very hard to start building a set as we wait for someone to let us use their equipment.  This year my co-stage manager and I made it our goal to leave room in the budget for a quality drill and saw.   These tools will help crew members long after I’ve left OSU and that’s kinda great.

    Proud owners of these awesome new power tools.

    Proud stage managers with our new tools. 

  3. Learning New Skills: Confession time.  When we became stage managers this year, we knew absolutely nothing about carpentry.  And in order to build a set, you kind of have to know how to put things together.   I’ve been leading a lot of the carpentry tasks at our builds this year.  We have a lot of new crew members who really know their way around a power tool.  My life became a confusing web of trying to gain their knowledge without losing my own authority.  Once I was able to admit both to myself and my crew that my talents were limited, they were actually able to teach me a lot.  I’ve even started designing pieces by myself!
  4. Getting to know some of the best people at Ohio State: Crew love is true love.  Every time I walk into a build all of the stress of the day goes away and I am met with the biggest assembly of talent, positive attitudes, and friendship.  I am absolutely thrilled with the new crew members we chose this year.  They are so creative- I love giving them a task and watching how they will add their own personal touch.  They are also kind and loving to each other and to me.  I look forward to crew conversations every day.  I’ve come to learn that as a leader I get to know not just the people I’m hanging out with, but every single member of the crew.

Our show opens at the end of March.  Check back here for an actual backstage look of the show!

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