Smithsonian Folklife Festival stage manager Jeanette Buck speaks about life backstage and her experience working the Festival. Buck started working at the Folklife Festival in 1987 as a member of the technical crew. She has been a stage manager for the Festival since 1994.
How do you start a typical day during the Festival?
This year I’m working the Voices of the World stage for the One World, Many Voices program. I usually start off the day early in the morning, before the Festival gets rolling. I clean up the backstage area, tidy up the equipment and microphones. I set up the first act’s microphones and cords, and try to organize the rest of the day’s equipment so that it’s quick and easy to grab and arrange between sets.
How would you describe your interaction with the performers?
The very first day of the Festival, I make a point to introduce myself to every performer I’ll be interacting with, and let them know I’m there to ensure things run as smoothly as possible for them. I am responsible for each set change between performances, which means I need to be keeping track of performance length. Everyone is always so gracious about sharing the same stage, which I think comes from my efforts to give each act the equal treatment and respect they deserve.
What do you think is your biggest responsibility?
My job is to be on stage as little as possible, and make sure there is as much music as possible! But I think my biggest responsibility is to facilitate a relationship between the performers on stage and the audience.
Hannah Crepps is a web production and social media intern with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. She graduated in May from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and hopes to pursue her interests in cultural heritage policy and international diplomacy.