#292 – Sandi Becker
Sandi Becker is a professional stage manager who has been working all over Canada for nearly 20 years. She has worked on shows varying from school tours for kindergarteners to operas to horror/magic/puppet extravaganzas to Shakespeare. Sandi has recently started a collaboration on a podcast called “Chewing Scenery”, a humorously angry look at theatre as portrayed in the movies.
Listen to Chewing Scenery: https://anchor.fm/chewing-scenery
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Sandi Becker, Phil Rickaby
Phil Rickaby 00:01
Welcome to Episode 292 of Stageworthy, I’m your host Phil Rickaby. Stageworthy is a podcast about people in Canadian theatre featuring conversations with actors, directors, playwrights and more. Thank you for listening. If you’ve enjoyed listening to Stageworthy and you listen on Apple podcasts, please consider rating the podcast with five stars. If you’re so inclined, you can also leave a review your ratings and reviews help new people to find this show. And if you think that you know someone that you think will like stage worthy, tell them about it. Some of my favourite podcasts became my favourites because someone I knew told me about them. And remember, you can find it Subscribe on Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, and everywhere you get podcasts. You can find Stageworthy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @stageworthypod and you can find the website with the archive of all 292 episodes at stageworthypodcast.com. And if you want to drop me a line, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram @philrickaby and My website is philrickaby.com. My guest this week is stage manager and now one of the hosts of the podcast Chewing Scenery, Sandi Becker. Chewing Scenery is a podcast in which two stage managers ruin all your favourite movies about Theatre by picking apart their inaccuracies. It is hilarious and wonderful. I mean, I kind of want to jump in on your your new podcast Chewing Scenery.
Sandi Becker 01:50
Phil Rickaby 01:50
And now in that pod, why don’t you describe what Chewing Scenery is for me?
Sandi Becker 01:57
Okay. Well, our our intro is the podcast where two professional stage managers ruin your favourite movies about film and TV by picking apart their inaccuracies. Um, cuz I was watching. Well, any movie that has Theatre in it, ever. And I get increasingly frustrated, because how does nobody on the film know how theatre works? And they never do. And it’s always laughably stupid. And so I posted something on Facebook, I was just like, what, like, how is this I get where they don’t know, where like, show business people don’t know how surgery works, or they don’t know a trial necessarily works. Like obviously, there’s things like this and with every portrayal of every career, but presumably, like there’s a lot of crossover. So probably somebody on your film has worked on a play at some point and knows that the stage manager is not playing cards in the wing during the show. So it just it was it’s very frustrating to me so that and I got like an insane responses. The most comments I’ve gotten on anything I’ve ever posted on Facebook. So people obviously were with me. And and then Katerina Sokyrko who is another stage manager friend of mine was like, Yeah, I really like podcasts. And I really want to do a podcast, we should make this podcast. And so we’ve been recording, we’ve only released two so far, but we’ve recorded a lot.
Phil Rickaby 03:24
And I’m just gonna say that having a bunch in the bank is super smart. totally trust me on that you would lose your mind. Like I start to panic if I get down to like, just three episodes in the bank.
Sandi Becker 03:37
Phil Rickaby 03:38
If I get down to one, I’m going to lose my mind. Because if I’m going week to week, I will never I will never have peace of mind. I will just it’s just too stressful. So it’s good to have things scheduled out,
Sandi Becker 03:48
we find Well, we also are having I mean, like I say we – Kat is doing all the editing and all the because she is much more technically minded than I am and that’s the part that she’s more interested in so she’s doing like hand to god way more work than I’m doing. And I worry about her because I don’t want to have this big backlog of editing for her to do because that was just me to help her. But we have no schedule yet. We’re just like putting them out when we have time. So yeah, but so we’ve recorded a bunch and we’re working on editing our third one. And it’s a really fun, it’s just nice to be in a place and time when we don’t have theatre jobs to go. It’s nice to have a room to talk about it.
Phil Rickaby 04:33
Yeah. Now on the topic of of the whole, like, why did they get these things so wrong? My own theory is that everybody who then have – most of the people who are on that on that show, know that it’s all wrong.
Sandi Becker 04:47
Well, they must.
Phil Rickaby 04:49
They just don’t care. I guess they just assume that the people who are watching the theatre people, whatever, who cares about them? What are they? They’re just- they just assume that everybody else is stupid.
Sandi Becker 05:04
Yeah, but like, that’s the part that if they have to make changes, for, like, for to move their plot along faster, or that kind of stuff doesn’t bother me as much. There’s none of like, you know, to make it more dramatic to make it more fun. Like the first episode that we did was on the movie centre stage, which I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but its –
Phil Rickaby 05:23
I was I was forced to watch centre stage a number of years ago. And it’s, it’s by somebody who loved the film genuinely understanding that it’s terrible. But you know, in that, in the end, I was just, my mouth was on the floor, my jaw was basically in my chest, just being like, this is all impossible and stupid.
Sandi Becker 05:47
Yeah, yeah. But like I can, but again, like a lot of the things that were stupid about it, made the plot move further, like, like sure, It’s insane that somebody would replace somebody else in the show without anyone knowing about it. And yes, that’s completely ridiculous. But I understand that that was necessary for the plot. But it does – It’s not necessary for the plot for, say, when two people have to have a chat in the wing for them to be visible to the audience, like that kind of stuff.
Phil Rickaby 06:15
Sandi Becker 06:16
it takes two seconds to like, be like, step two steps further back so that it’s conceivable that the people in the boxes can see us having this heated conversation, like those little stupid things would not affect your film at all. And it would make my head not explode.
Phil Rickaby 06:35
But it’s it’s you know, I, you’re totally right, I get those moments where they’re doing stuff that’s basically essentially magic. And you could never do that in a theatre, right? For real. But because this is film, and we have to make it a little bit more, quote, unquote, exciting for an audience that isn’t watching it actually on stage. We have to cheat that way. But you’re right things like the stage manager, playing cards.
Sandi Becker 07:01
Yeah. We have as that’s from a movie called our friend. That is a fairly recent film. And that’s what sort of triggered it like I’ve had these moments a lot watching a lot of movies. Oh, sure. The one, the one that we are recording tomorrow is a film called opening night, it’s on Netflix, don’t watch it. If you value your sanity at all, just don’t watch this movie, because your head will explode. But our friend is there’s this these group of friends and they met doing a play together. And in one instance, the two of them are having a conversation. She’s an actor in the show. And he’s on the crew. And they’re having a conversation and – during rehearsal, and he’s operating the followspot and then cut to the performance and he’s watching from the wing. And I was like, who is operating the followspot? What is infuriating To me, it’s like that’s what what is happening. It’s and that’s an over his shoulder. You can see the stage manager sitting at a card table with a bunch of people playing poker. Like there is a play happening, guys. Anybody working on the play?
Phil Rickaby 08:05
Sandi Becker 08:05
Phil Rickaby 08:07
I really don’t get how like, again, like these are things I think that somebody thinks that it’s really funny. And then Wouldn’t it be funny if the stage manager was playing cards? And somebody was like, yeah, sure, whatever. And that’s what they do. And then the rest of us are just left to scratch our heads.
Sandi Becker 08:25
At I yeah, I just don’t i don’t understand that. What adds anything to the film. It’s like, and it’s always it’s not just theatre things. It’s watching movies. It’s things like, like, things are pulling me out of movies that like empt y coffee cup acting.
Phil Rickaby 08:40
Oh, God, every Oh my god,
Sandi Becker 08:42
just put water in that cup. Just put water in the cup.
Phil Rickaby 08:45
It makes me so crazy when I’m watching a TV show or a film or anything like that. And it is so obvious.
Sandi Becker 08:53
Phil Rickaby 08:53
that that paper cup has nothing in it.
Sandi Becker 08:55
It’s so clear. It has a lid on it. Why don’t you just put water in it? Because you can’t act like it’s full. So why don’t you make it full?
Phil Rickaby 09:01
Even don’t even even if it’s if there’s no like, I don’t care. Like put something in there. We know how to carry stuff. Yeah, you know, but every time you put an empty cup in somebody’s hand on TV, they’re waving it around like it’s empty because it is.
Sandi Becker 09:16
I know! It’s like all of these actors who’ve never held a coffee cup before like, and and suitcase. Same with suitcases like your suitcases down guys. Yes. looks stupid.
Phil Rickaby 09:25
Yeah, no, absolutely. Absolutely. those are those are those are things that always, always, always, always take me out of a film.
Sandi Becker 09:32
Phil Rickaby 09:33
But also when I see films, and this is you know, I’m sure that that you would cover that you’ll be covering this kind of thing is like a film about a movie that gets things wrong about a movie like yeah, things in a movie. Where you would not accept that in the movie that you’re shooting.
Sandi Becker 09:56
Yeah, yeah, that’s even weirder, because all of those people work in movies. But we probably won’t be covering that to be honest because either of us work in film so qualified to comment on the same way. But yeah, know that it’s just it’s just bananas to me that like, yeah, yeah.
Phil Rickaby 10:13
Is there a film like as far as all of the films that you could cover, and I’m sure that some of these are really hurting your brain just to have to sit through. And other ones. You’re like being taken out of it for a second. Is there a film that’s on your list? It’s like, this is the pinnacle of everything that we’re going to discuss. Is there is there one film that stands out
Sandi Becker 10:33
Phil Rickaby 10:35
Sandi Becker 10:36
I don’t want to spoil our podcast episode too much because we haven’t even recorded it yet. But this movie, I watched it last year, it was recommended to me by my very good friend Melanie McNeil. I was living in my sister’s house nanny and her kids because I was at work. And what I wasted an evening after the kids went to bed, and I needed some alone time. And so Melanie said, watch this movie, your head will explode. And so I watched the movie, and my head very nearly flew off my body. Four minutes into the movie. I was screaming. It’s so it’s a nightmare.
Phil Rickaby 11:10
I am so goddamn curious about this movie. Now after you’ve warned me not to watch it. But in the same breath. You’ve told me I have to
Sandi Becker 11:18
I know. I know. It’s you have to watch it. But like, like, watch it with a support animal or something like it’s just Yeah, the the the quintessential quote. And it happened to the first two minutes the movie so I’m not really spoiling anything is one of our background dancers called in sick, call wicked and have them send over one of their spares. And they’re just giving people the impression that this is what happens in theatre. Like it’s apparently it’s all over the top and the movie itself. I don’t know what the movies trying to be. It’s trying to be a bit of a send up because the play that they’re doing is is objectively terrible. And like, obviously, they’re playing it for laughs and like, this is a terrible show. But like, it just doesn’t, it’s so completely wrong. Everything about it is so wrong. And you’re following the main character who I think is supposed to be the stage manager. But I have no like, like, I’ve looked it up online to try and figure out what his job is. He only has a name and the credit so I it doesn’t – its Topher Grace, and he’s playing this guy who wears a headset. But that’s all we know about. Like it doesn’t make any sense at all. His job is super ambiguous. Sometimes he’s walking around holding frenel. And then sometimes he’s calling cues but only for like a minute. And then he can just wander around backstage during the show not doing anything.
Phil Rickaby 12:45
There’s a theme it’s gonna be like if somebody is like calling cues like, Oh, I gotta go and walk off. It’s just like,
Sandi Becker 12:51
you don’t get to leave.
Phil Rickaby 12:53
You finish the show.
Sandi Becker 12:55
The lights or whatever.
Phil Rickaby 12:58
Yeah. Are there any films that come to mind where they got it? Right?
Sandi Becker 13:02
Ah, I think I’d have I have to watch it again. But I remember when I watched Birdman,
Phil Rickaby 13:08
I was just thinking about Birdman.
Sandi Becker 13:10
I had to take breaks because it was too real. Remember to pause the film because there is an encounter between Uh, I don’t know if it’s the stage manager, director and an actor that was very fraught and very tense. And I have had that conversation with an actor before and it was a little bit like it was it was a bit trickery. So I had to turn it off and take a break.
Phil Rickaby 13:34
Yeah, I definitely remember Birdman being the kind of film where I was like, okay, somebody was paying attention in theatre class, because this is this is this is this is too close.
Sandi Becker 13:44
Yeah, for sure. But it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it. I know the movie itself is very fantastical and obviously people want and stuff. But um, yeah. I feel like it’s a pretty decent portrayal of what goes on in a theatre,
Phil Rickaby 13:57
in many ways. might be one of the closest you probably up there.
Sandi Becker 14:01
Yeah. Um, and other than that, I can’t really think of a lot of hand because they’re all pretty bad. Yeah, we did. 42nd Street. That was something else too. But that was that was when it’s been black and white. You can forgive so much more. Like, I don’t know why, but like, the older the movie, the more I can forgive.
Phil Rickaby 14:20
Hmm, that’s, that’s kind of funny is because, in many ways, those people were closer to theatre than some of the people who were making movies.
Sandi Becker 14:28
Yeah, that’s true. That’s true. Yeah, but but also, I don’t know what was going on in theatres in the 30s. Maybe people were showing up to auditions in fur coats and monocles and carrying dogs, maybe I, but it seems silly to me.
Phil Rickaby 14:43
I need to believe that they were. So I need to believe that somebody like an Ethel Merman or somebody of that stature was arriving in a fur coat with her dog, you know?
Sandi Becker 14:55
Absolutely. Sure. yeah great. Yeah. Yeah, anyway.
Phil Rickaby 15:00
Um, as far as like this being a podcast is there, aside from from watching some of these terrible movies and then and then finding out that a lot of people have the same, you know, reaction to you and then have you considered a podcast before was or who, who brought up the idea of doing this as a podcast?
Sandi Becker 15:21
Oh, the podcast was my idea, but it’s sort of half joking in this Facebook status, I need to make a podcast to talk about this. I really, um, it was sort of a combination of I listened to some very nerdy, like, rewatch podcasts. There’s one of Beverly Hills 90210. And oh, that I enjoy very much called again with this. And I find that really funny. And I’d also seen there’s, you know, there’s YouTube videos of doctors watching er, and what’s wrong with it. And so I sort of that was sort of floating around in my brain, but again, it was all just sort of a joke, because I didn’t think I actually had the follow through that to do a podcast and that’s where lovely Katerina Sokyrko comes in because she has all the follow through. She’s really making it happen. Yeah, so I yeah, it was so it was I guess it was my idea, but it was sort of half joking.
Phil Rickaby 16:20
And and now were you were You have been listening to a podcast previously or was that or Yeah,
Sandi Becker 16:26
I wouldn’t say a big listener of podcasts. I there are a few that I really love. I listened to the West Wing weekly cuz I’m a huge nerd and I listened to my dad wrote a porno and like those ones but that’s pretty much it but I’m not like
Phil Rickaby 16:43
you know, you can’t really go wrong with my dad wrote a porno I listened to like the first season. But now I think it’s it’s it’s so off. Like, I think you have to pay for those episodes now. But it was just so out there.
Sandi Becker 16:55
Yeah, I’ve been sort of waiting to see if more were coming in. There’s not been any more coming out. And I don’t know if if rocky stopped writing or what is happening, but maybe
Phil Rickaby 17:03
rocky Flintstone did stop, start. Stop writing. It’s hard to know.
Sandi Becker 17:06
Hard to know. But yeah, I’ve recommended that to people in like, ruin their lives. Like a friend of mine laughed so hard. He dropped his keys down a sewer. Great One day.
Phil Rickaby 17:13
I was gonna say I don’t think that you can ruin somebody’s life. But there could be at least ruin their day. Yeah. Yeah, that’s like, Oh, sorry. Now, do you think that I mean, ultimately, there’s only so many movies about theatre? You would think you would think I’m sure there’s a long list. Okay. Okay. Approximately, could you like ballpark? How many what number you have?
Sandi Becker 17:36
Oh, man. Ah, I were upwards of 50 for sure. And that includes some TV show.
Phil Rickaby 17:45
Okay, cuz I was gonna ask about TV shows too.
Sandi Becker 17:47
Yeah, I want to I really want to do an episode where we follow Joey Tribbiani his acting career through my God. There’s, there’s a in 90210, there’s an arc where Brenda’s at a play that I would really like to look at. So yeah, and we talked we’ve talked about the Streetcar Named Desire episode of The Simpsons, obviously. Yeah, so there’s a few TV shows in there too.
Phil Rickaby 18:10
Nice. Nice, cuz I was gonna ask about about slings and arrows. And and
Sandi Becker 18:15
that’s another one that might be too hard to do, because that one also quite accurate. I know that’s ridiculous. There’s less to pick apart because they
Phil Rickaby 18:25
there is less to pick apart. But in some ways, it might be worth sitting in the shit to talk about. Yep. No. Yep, that’s, sir. I’m sorry. But yes, that’s true.
Sandi Becker 18:35
Yeah, the problem with the other problem with slings and arrows is that, you know, we try. So far, we’ve tried fairly hard not to name names in the industry, and slings and arrows. There are so many characters on that show who are based on real people. And it’s pretty clear to me who they’re based on,
Phil Rickaby 18:50
I think it’s pretty clear to most of us who they based on.
Sandi Becker 18:53
Yeah, and I don’t want like if other people outside the industry are watching or listening, I don’t necessarily want to out –
Phil Rickaby 18:57
I don’t think they would care. I mean, everybody who’s in the industry already know.
Sandi Becker 19:05
Phil Rickaby 19:05
Now, this is sort of like a you know, you’ve you’ve been a stage manager for quite some time. We talked quite a while a while ago, about a production you were working on with eldritch theatre. You were in the room when I talked to Dylan Trowbridge about every brilliant thing, everybody, I think, thank you. It’s gonna say wonderful thing. But you know, brands, every brilliant thing. I think you piped in a couple of times there. And so as a stage manager, you’ve you’ve been pretty busy over the years. How has you know this whole pandemic situation impacted you aside from the fact not working? Like how, how are you getting through it?
Sandi Becker 19:49
Um, it’s been, I am amazed at how not crazy I’ve gone. I really thought I would have if you’d asked me Two years ago, okay, you’re gonna be out of work for 15 straight months and not able to do anything. What? How would you be, I would have assumed that I would be in hate deep depression, unable to function, like I really thought, but I’m actually Alright, like things are going okay. I said the first five months of it living with my sister and take care of her kids. And that was a challenge. Wonderful. They’re adorable children, but they were three and five at the time and a parent, and so a lot to be thrown into full time it was 40 hours a week. And then I lived there. So it was not really just 40 hours a week. No. And, yeah, so that was that was quite an adventure. And after five months of that, they hired somebody and I left cuz it was too much. But, but then once I got back after the couple of weeks of really, really enjoying the solitude. You know, then I did all the things that everybody else did at the beginning of the pandemic, pandemic, where I like, tried baking things, and I do, you know, all the projects, and I’ve, you know, tried to learn German all the stuff
Phil Rickaby 21:09
all the make busy stuff,
Sandi Becker 21:12
all the busy work. And then now I’m just sort of settled into this silly little routine of just like, it’s very, I feel like an 85 year old retired woman, you know, like, I do a crossword puzzle every day, and I go for a walk after lunch and all that stuff. But I’m not struggling as much as I thought it would be. I don’t miss theatre actively until, you know, somebody posts a picture of the opening night of Come From Away in Australia, and I cry for two hours like those moments, but I don’t think about it every day where I’m like, Oh, my God, I have to get back to work right now. So yeah, so apparently, I could retire and I’d be alright.
Phil Rickaby 21:58
Well, one of the questions that I have for you is is, as far as as you know, previous to this, you know, before all of that, were you like, were you on the go constantly? is this? Is this like a moment for a breath? That you didn’t quite have? pre pandemic?
Sandi Becker 22:16
I guess so. Yeah. I tried to think like, I think my longest stretch of unemployment before this was three months of unemployment. And that was years ago, huh. I’ve been pretty my work has been quite steady. I get two weeks off here there, which is a great little refresh, like, refresh button for me. But yeah, I’ve been working quite steadily for a very long time. So this was, yeah, I mean, the circumstances in which it happened, obviously not welcome. But yeah, the break itself has is not a terrible thing. And usually, I’m lucky that I’m in a good position, I was in a reasonable enough position financially that I didn’t have to get, you know, a grocery store job or something else.
Phil Rickaby 22:59
Sure. I do you think that there is something about about this time, that is, in some ways educational? for a lot of us because a lot of people have been on a treadmill of, of hustling, and, and going constantly, for however long they’ve been in the business. I know people who’ve worked like four jobs. And every evening, they’re out to some networking thing, or some cold read thing and stuff like that. And it’s constant, constant constant. And the opportunity, I guess, in all of this in this forced pause is the opportunity to, to learn what it feels like to stop. Yeah, to think about taking care of yourself.
Sandi Becker 23:49
Yeah. And I think a lot of people are struggling with not maybe struggling, maybe discovering whatever, but I don’t think it’s just it’s just theatre people. But I think theatre people more than some with our work is our identity. A lot of ways. Oh, yeah. And so to figure out who you are without the work is a big deal.
Phil Rickaby 24:12
Sure. That’s huge. Yeah. For a lot of people, if you ask them, you know, describe yourself. The first thing they will say is, I’m an actor. I’m a director or a playwright. That’s the first thing out of their mouth.
Sandi Becker 24:21
Yeah. Yeah. And that comes from that comes from having a job where you spend so much of your time not working for the money,
Phil Rickaby 24:28
right? Yeah, but also it’s still the
Sandi Becker 24:31
same. Oh, bankers probably have a situation where they’re defined by their wealth, but like, yes. Yeah, it’s just a weird it’s, it’s a weird situation to be in that I don’t think anyone expected and no, it’s a reckoning for a lot of people.
Phil Rickaby 24:45
But that whole the whole like, that is my identity that comes I think that starts like, you know, with first time that you start, you start thinking that you’re going to be an actor. That’s what you tell everybody, right? And then because you’ve spent so much time, like you said, doing it for the love of it that it becomes who you are. And I was talking to a little while ago with with a couple of actors who are trying to come to terms with, who are they? And is, is it worth staying in the business? Like if it could go away like this so quickly? Is it worth staying in the business? And, and And who are they if they don’t? All this of these big questions?
Sandi Becker 25:24
Yeah, yeah. And a lot of people because they’re finding for financial reasons that they can’t afford to wait this out and they are pivoting to, Oh, I hate the word pivot, but they’re, you know, switching careers and sure, can they be satisfied doing something else? And if they can be Oh, more power to them, good for them? Holy cow.
Phil Rickaby 25:43
I think that’s a big that’s a big change. Because I think a lot of people who might be considering that switch, worry about, oh, what if I, what if I like that other job? Like, I like it, but I love this, right? But if I like that, and I like the money, huh? What does that mean?
Sandi Becker 26:03
Oh, I know, I did apply for one or two jobs like office jobs that I didn’t even get interviews for. But I had I had those moments of just like, I’m gonna hate this job. But I’m not going to hate the weekends. I’m not going to hate the money. Yeah, and I’m not like I’m not going to hate the ability to live above ground. And that’s my only real ambition in life is to live above the ground. I want to graduate from Fraggle to regular Muppet. That’s like all I care about,
Phil Rickaby 26:28
you know, I recently did that I recently graduated from from Fraggle to Muppet
Sandi Becker 26:33
Phil Rickaby 26:34
And it’s living above ground is a whole new world. Oh, as the fraggles would say, living in outer space. That’s something special
Sandi Becker 26:42
man, I know. I, that’s the only thing I don’t like about my apartment is that it’s below ground.
Phil Rickaby 26:48
One day, you too could be uncle travelling Matt,
Sandi Becker 26:50
one day, one day. It’s gonna take a little bit of financial recovery after this year to get there, but
Phil Rickaby 26:57
yeah, but I mean, that’s, that’s the that’s the thing is, is like for me, years ago, I decided that I was going to find a job I needed to. And I didn’t not like the money, right? But then you have to go through a period of time adjusting and like figuring out, can I still be artistic? Can I still be an artist? Can I still create work while also having a job? Right? And that can be a very difficult balance to strike, especially since a lot of jobs will let you put in a lot of time. If you don’t, if you don’t erect boundaries around your work, you know that you
Sandi Becker 27:37
Oh, yeah, I mean, well, look where we come from, like, I don’t think any industry has that problem more than theatre
Phil Rickaby 27:44
No. Why, you know, it’s funny, because I know a lot of people in in in a lot of industries like they will celebrate the people who put in those extra hours.
Sandi Becker 27:53
Phil Rickaby 27:54
In the office like, oh, Brenda, and Tom. They worked until nine o’clock every night last week. Let’s give him a hand in sales. They made those sales and they worked until nine o’clock. 12 hour days, you guys. Yeah. That’s, that’s a capitalism problem. That’s Yeah, that sends the message that that’s what’s expected, even though they could never ask you to do that,
Sandi Becker 28:11
for sure. For sure. But exhaustion is a badge of honour. Yes, yes. But you know, that’s a toxic, toxic situation.
Phil Rickaby 28:20
100% 100% and you have to if you’re going to go that route, you have to learn how to build fences around your work life and everything else. Now, we talked a long time ago about about, you know, what drew you to stage management, but for those who aren’t going to go back and listen to that episode, cuz it was a couple 100 episodes ago? Would What was it that that made you want to be a stage manager?
Sandi Becker 28:53
Ah, it was a little bit Well, it was a little bit of a reimagining of career goals already, because I my initial plan was to be an actor. And that was not to be and I’m very, very glad that that didn’t turn out to be my life. But yeah, I was like a little community theatre thing attached to I was at York University, and I auditioned for the show, and they said, We don’t have a part for you. But we need a stage manager. I said, Okay, what’s that? They, and I just sort of was thrust into this position. And it was really hard. And by the end of it, I was like, Oh, no, but I can do this. And I mean, it didn’t immediately just I didn’t immediately switch and go, okay, stage management forever, but it sort of crept into the back of my mind is, Oh, that’s a job that I can do. And I’m decent at and, and then as it just as things progressed, and that was the first professional job I got was, as I mean, Port Stanley, and it just sort of kept happening and it’s Yeah, it’s just better. It’s a better circumstance for me because I can’t imagine having been an actor and been able to say to you that for the last 10 years, I’ve only had three months of unemployment in a row. Like, that’s insane. So this is clearly the better path as far as stability goes. And, and, and I’m the work I find that work incredibly rewarding. I’m sort of a caretaker by nature. I’m very. I’ve cat but actually, we did a special episode of the podcast where we talk about what the heck is the stage manager anyway, people didn’t know. And, and we have this conversation of, it’s really problematic for me to say, and I hate saying it, but I’ve, I have a fairly maternal personality. But I don’t want children. And so it fulfils something in me, stage management fulfils a caretaker thing that is in me that I don’t want to dedicate to 18 years of my life raising kids. So yeah.
Phil Rickaby 31:03
I was trying to explain to somebody because you know, the people I work with, they don’t, they’re not theatre people. And so it’s a mystery to them, whatever this is, I happen to mention a stage manager. And they were like, well, what is that? Right? And the first thing I said was, well, the stage manager is God. Yes, the director is the boss and the producer pays your bills, but they’re not around all the time, what the stage manager says, that is gospel.
Sandi Becker 31:28
That’s a hard thing to that’s a hard thing to live up to, though. People say that all the time. And I’m like, ah, I would like the buck not to stop with me.
Phil Rickaby 31:38
But a lot of times as a stage manager, that’s kind of where it happens. Yeah. I mean, sometimes stage managers end up inadvertently being like a tour manager or all of these extra things, because it’s got to get done, right.
Sandi Becker 31:50
Yeah. Yeah, it’s a weird it’s a hard job to explain. And I was upset when they rereleased The Muppet Show on Disney plus, because I watched it and I went I used to tell people I was scooter and scooters not stage manager Kermit is.
Phil Rickaby 32:04
There’s no- Kermit the stage manager -The stage manager slash hosts scooter is just a gopher
Sandi Becker 32:08
I know but I always thought because he was always the one who said how what how much time there was, and that’s something to look at in my podcast is how is every single episode. He’s like, Gilda Radner. 30 seconds to curtain is like, why? Where’s the five minute call? What do you mean? 30 seconds till then I hope.
Phil Rickaby 32:26
I hope that the Muppets are on your list.
Sandi Becker 32:29
They are but that’s another one. It’s gonna be really hard to it’s, it’s too ridiculous To me, it’s purposely ridiculous. Like,
Phil Rickaby 32:35
yes, it is. Yes, it is
Sandi Becker 32:36
a little bit harder to I’ve thought about it. And I also love it so much that I would have a hard time criticising it anyway.
Phil Rickaby 32:43
I mean, you could just talk about how that was, how wildly wildly racist but that’s another issue. I mean, the Disney plus ones put a warning in front of the ones that are
Sandi Becker 32:52
okay, but they do but oh, this is such a weird tangent. But they do. But they’re confusing which episodes, because some episodes, they had the warning, and I looked for the racism and couldn’t find it. And then some episodes, they didn’t have the warning. And I went holy crap. They should have had the warning. Oh, okay. So there’s one hosted by Spike Milligan that I it should have gone wherever they sent Song of the South because that should never be seen by humans. Again. It was appalling, I can’t
Phil Rickaby 33:17
believe they put that on there. They should have they should have because they got rid of a Song of the South.
Sandi Becker 33:22
Yeah, they got rid of a couple there was one that was hosted by somebody who was later, like, became a sex criminal or was right. They went out and I think was another one that they got rid of. But this one needed to go to because it’s horrifying. Anyway.
Phil Rickaby 33:34
I mean, if you were going to the muppet show at least if you could probably dissect How the hell does that backstage area work?
Sandi Becker 33:41
We could try.
Phil Rickaby 33:42
You could give it a shot. It might be a short episode, but you could give it a shot.
Sandi Becker 33:45
Yeah, we could try. I just how did Kermit wind up being the producer, the director, the host and the stage manager all in one shot?
Phil Rickaby 33:53
For the same reason that those old musicals are like my dad’s got a barn. Yeah, let’s put on a show. He just like fell into all the things
Sandi Becker 33:59
I guess, though. But like, they rent it from that guy. There’s a guy who owns – Scooter’s uncle owns a theatre and how do they How can they afford the rent? Like I don’t understand any of this works.
Phil Rickaby 34:08
But no, you’re right. I don’t understand how any of that works, because their audience doesn’t look that big. It’s often quite half empty. Who knows how any of that actually works? I don’t know what the finances of Muppet theatre is.
Sandi Becker 34:18
Yeah, I don’t know. They’re always talking about how it’s very funny. I was told they recently. They’re always talking about how much petty cash they have. And it’s always like, $12
Phil Rickaby 34:26
It’s amazing. I’m sure there’s a lot of people in indie theatre who are like oooh, $12? What we could do with $12.
Sandi Becker 34:36
Phil Rickaby 34:37
Now, I would be remiss if I did not talk about Eldritch Theatre.
Sandi Becker 34:42
Phil Rickaby 34:43
Because I’m a huge fan. And you do a lot of work with Eldritch theatre. How did you how did you fall in with that merry band of monsters.
Sandi Becker 34:54
Oh, how indeed. I I’d worked with Eric on a show – Eric wolfe. Is the who is Eldritch theatre, um, I worked with him on an unrelated show, he was just a puppeteer and actor on this other show. And we toured together and we got on really well. And then he lost his stage manager, she left the business I believe. And that and his designer Melanie McNeil is also a friend of mine who I’d worked with in other places. And I think they had a conversation and they everybody sort of my name came up from like, a few different directions. And they went, Okay, and so he just Facebook Messenger me, he didn’t even, like wasn’t even a real email, he just sent me a DM was like, Hey, what are you doing? And I was, it was one gig that turned into I’m guess I’m the resident stage manager there if such a thing exists now. Um, and yeah, and I actually have thought about that this year. Whereas if I had to give up all of theatre, how could I find a job where I could do something full time and take off the month of November to just do Eric’s shows? Because I don’t think I could give that up. It’s, it’s the best game in the world.
Phil Rickaby 36:12
I mean, I mean, one of the reasons I there’s a number of reasons why I, I am a big fan of Eric wolfe in this theatre, but a lot of it is first off doing genre well, is really rare in the theatre. And to pull off these strange, essentially magic tricks, like hour long or longer magic tricks, right. of immersing you in a world is is quite impressive to do and the fact that his audience, he’s got that magical thing of many of his audience members are in fact, I think the majority of his audience members are not people who normally go to the theatre.
Sandi Becker 36:57
Yes, definitely the majority. That’s the only the only time working for him is the only shows where I do an opening night and I don’t recognise a single person in the audience. That’s it’s unbelievably rare. He’s got this weird. Yeah, they’re called the Cabal and like, there’s Yeah, it’s it’s spectacular.
Phil Rickaby 37:15
I often I think, you know, I, I sometimes I’ve said the Eldritch to do a masterclass in, in an audience retention, because, you know, that audience is really devoted and because they’re not usually theatre people. But I also think that that masterclass might be boiled down to just do things that people want to see.
Sandi Becker 37:37
Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Do plays that are fun to watch. And
Phil Rickaby 37:44
Sandi Becker 37:45
yeah, that’s part of it. And and do something that nobody else is doing? Like, I think, well, that’s absolutely right. But you can’t get what he does anywhere else. There’s nobody else who can do this. Nobody else who can do what he does, which is part of the thing is that like, he complained, sometimes I know, he had a bunch of his plays are published and nobody else ever produces them. And I’m like, well, find somebody else who can do magic tricks and be a puppeteer and perform the perform this genre in a way that isn’t mockery of the genre. And like, like, find somebody else who understands that we can pull that off. I dare you.
Phil Rickaby 38:21
I mean, he’s kind of be somebody but but the problem is like, they’re there. It’s a rare combination of talents.
Sandi Becker 38:27
Yeah. Yeah. And find a team like, you know, the rest of us aren’t necessarily coming either. So like, yeah. find, find a designer who knows the esthetic find a, you know, stage manager who knows how the magic tricks work fine. Like that kind of stuff is that’s that’s a lot. Yeah, a lot to pull up.
Phil Rickaby 38:43
So I have a question about knowing how the magic tricks work not to not to reveal anything, that’s not the purpose of my question. My question is, do you feel like your enjoyment is robbed by knowing how the magic tricks works?
Sandi Becker 39:00
Well, some of them I don’t still know how they work. I’m a, it’s a need to know basis sort of thing. Where if there’s something I have to be watching for, then I learn and what repetition I sort of figure some of the principles out but 100% know how he does most of them. And it’s when that enjoyment the Oh my god, how did you do that enjoyment gets taken away, it’s replaced by another fun, it’s a bit of a game for me to see if I can catch the thing. where like, cuz I that’s part of my job is to keep an eye on if, like, there’s something specific that he does with his hand that the audience is not supposed to see. And I catch it. I’m giving him notes on that. So right. So that’s, it’s a fun game for me to watch. And, you know, if I managed to figure one out on my own, I’m very proud of myself. So there’s that too. All right, that said, Oh, I shouldn’t say this. Oh, if Eric ever listens to this, he’s gonna be so upset, but there’s a there’s a movie called in and of itself. That is a movie version of a play that’s been running off Broadway for quite some time directed by Frank Oz, I think and it is sort of similar. It has a lot of a similar like it’s a it’s a play that’s moved along by magic tricks. And the guy in it does some of the same tricks that Eric does. And not to disparage Eric, but this guy, like leaps and bounds a better magician was watching it. And like, I knew what he was doing. I knew how he was doing it, and I couldn’t see it. And I was like, like alone in my living room going holy.
Phil Rickaby 40:42
Is that is that just movie magic? He’s better at it. Like what?
Sandi Becker 40:46
No, that was it was within one shot. And like, there were things that like I couldn’t. Yeah, there’s like some tricks where I nobody else can tell. But I can see the way the way Eric moves his hands to do one thing and to pretend to do that thing, if that makes sense. Like I can see the difference in his hands when he’s doing sure tricks or not. And this guy, I knew the trick was happening. And I could not see what what he was really, it was very impressive and very fun to watch. But
Phil Rickaby 41:18
now speaking of magic and movies, a lot of times when magic happens in movies, they cheat. Of course, you know, they you know, nobody actually learns the trick. They just cheat. And sometimes, I don’t even know if these movies are on your list because they’re not quite theatre. They’re magic, but there’s a theatricality to it. The Now You See Me films are maddening, because there is no goddamn way that any magician can do any of those tricks without the CGI. And how dare you try to convince me that they can?
Sandi Becker 41:53
Uh huh. I don’t know that those movies are on our list because I don’t feel like we know enough about magic but if I could convince Eric to be a guest.
Phil Rickaby 42:01
I should probably should ask eric. I would. I would. I would. I would love to hear him rant.
Sandi Becker 42:07
Oh, would you? I don’t know. about that.
Phil Rickaby 42:11
I would love to hear him rant about that.
Sandi Becker 42:12
Phil Rickaby 42:12
To Be honest with you.
Sandi Becker 42:13
Fair enough. Yeah. Yeah, listening. Oh, that’s that’s I think that’s part of why this if if my podcast has any, our podcast has any appeal or not. But if it does have any appeal, I think something there’s something really gleeful about listening to somebody who knows a lot about a thing. yell and scream about how other people don’t know a lot about the thing like Absolutely.
Phil Rickaby 42:40
There is certainly something about like I was just listening. I think I’m maybe about halfway through the centre stage episode. And just the the gleeful frustration because I know you both love that film.
Sandi Becker 42:56
One of us loved it
Phil Rickaby 42:56
one of you loves that. it is ridiculous and terrible, and I can hear there’s almost a joy in like how bad the theatre world is in it,
Sandi Becker 43:07
mmhm. Yeah, no, it’s joyful. That’s an opening night again is the the epitome of that. That’s like the joyful rage. How can they they’re hurting the thing that I love. Why? Who hurt you opening night? Why did you hear this?
Phil Rickaby 43:25
Opening night, okay, I’m writing it down. Even though you’ve told me both. Don’t watch it. But also watch it.
Sandi Becker 43:32
I’m just I’m just trashing this movie. And it’s like, I don’t know whose idea it was. I don’t know. It’s got names in it. Like there. None of them are like Meryl Streep, but like, like it’s got people that you would recognise there’s the toe for grace is the lead and it’s got an Haitians in it and Rob Riggle and Taye Diggs, isn’t it? Like? It’s like a real actor. It’s just really bad. Yeah. They can’t all be winners. No, but I just like, I wonder how those actors feel in that movie. Because like Taye Diggs is a Broadway guy, right? Like he’s been. He was, I think he was one of the original cast members or friends like he, yeah, he knows. But I think at a certain,
Phil Rickaby 44:12
I think at a certain point as an actor and one of those films, you have to I think you just have to go. This is the film. Yeah, this is the movie. I mean, I guess I just have to tell you, yourself in the world of this film, this is how theatre works. Yeah, yeah. And to be fair, he commits like he’s given her but it’s not good. So if we were to go looking for chewing scenery, where would we find it?
Sandi Becker 44:43
It’s on Apple podcasts on Spotify. It’s on all of the usual places. Excellent. Yeah, there is another I’ve discovered there was another podcast called chewing the scenery. That is I think about horror movies. That’s not us.
Phil Rickaby 44:57
chewing scenery. Yeah. Is there Is there a Twitter? Is there a website or no?
Sandi Becker 45:03
We have not gotten that far yet. We’re brand new.
Phil Rickaby 45:06
That’s all good. That’s all good. Well, Sandi, thank you so much for talking with us. It’s been a lot of fun.
Sandi Becker 45:12
Thanks for having me.