Posted on March 31, 2020

The Ghost Light Chronicles, vol. 1

A Message from Stage Manager Melissa Jernigan

Melissa Jernigan* (center) and her cast, crew, design team and director at the first rehearsal for AN OCTOROON by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. August 2017. *Member AEA.

“…Being a good steward of our community doesn’t only apply to creating theatre for everyone to see. It applies to being part of the solution during these difficult times.”

Before I start a new show I always go and get my blazers dry-cleaned. It’s a ritual that I love and helps me get into the mood of a new show. But of course due to our current world situation there is no need for me to put on those blazers. So in order to give myself the smallest sense of normalcy, and in honor of missing my next show and co workers, I decided to put on one of those good old blazers as I sit down to type this.  

So how am I coping? I think I am coping like everyone else. One day I am up and one day I am down. But something that does help me make it through each day is knowing that I am in no way alone with these feelings. Every single one of my friends, co-workers and family are dealing with similar feelings and situations right now. So even though I am staying home and I can’t see them all in person, I know I am not alone.

It was a real bummer to see my friends who worked so hard on Admissions have to close before anyone was really able to see it. I was equally sad to receive the news that we would not be producing Passover this season. I have been looking forward to this show ever since we announced it last year. And now, knowing that I won’t get to work on it with respected artists and friends is a major disappointment for myself and for our wonderful Capital Stage audiences.  

When I moved back to Sacramento, after being gone for 10 years, it wasn’t my intention to go back to work. I had my son and I was happy to stay at home with him everyday. Then one day an old friend called me up and said “Hey can you help me out of a bind and come be my Assistant Stage Manager on a show at Capital Stage?” I reluctantly said yes because she was my friend and I wanted to help her out…but I was very clear that this was just a one time thing. Well here we are and I am now in my fourth season as a Stage Manager with this amazing company.  

And now Capital Stage is my home. And I miss it. I miss my coworkers. I miss seeing them every day and talking about work but also just talking about life, art and what is going on in the theatre community in and our town. I am constantly impressed at what my colleagues can accomplish everyday. From logistics, to building sets, to helping our audiences, to their performances on stage, etc. etc. etc. The people that I work with are amazing and I wish that we could continue to share our hard work with live audiences each night during this difficult time. But being a good steward of our community doesn’t only apply to creating theatre for everyone to see. It applies to being part of the solution during these difficult times.  

We don’t get many “days off” in the theatre world. Most productions around the country run 6 days a week. We don’t know what to do with ourselves now that we don’t have to work! It’s incredible to see my fellow artists out there still creating from their homes as we adapt to these circumstances. I see famous artists giving away content to make people happy. I see my friends and friends of friends creating amazing videos to help encourage people through these hard times. Theatre and art helps. Putting our artistic creations out there for the world to see is what we do as artists. I know that as soon as we get through all this isolation the amount of creative ideas that will be flowing will be overwhelming. I know as soon as we are all able to be back in rehearsals and on stage that we will be ready and willing. And I know as soon as Capital Stage can reopen the doors again that we will do it as fast as we can. We miss you Sacramento and we will be back. 

But for now I sit at home, in my blazer surrounded by two little ones and hope that I can enjoy stage managing our quarantine lives as much as I enjoy stage managing at Capital Stage.