Meet the Staff


Meet the Staff

Athena Ellis, Stage Supervisor

By Jamie Brewer, Marketing Apprentice

Athena EllisTell us a little about yourself.

I am from a small town in New Hampshire that I truly love being able to call home. I graduated from Hofstra University with a BFA in Theatre Production, with a concentration in Stage Management and a minor in Business (say that five times fast). I am one of the only people I know who gets excited for snow and loves the magic of turning the whole world sparkling white, even if I have to shovel it. My ideal kind of night is in my backyard, around the fire with friends and a glass of wine.

Tell us about the first time you experienced live theatre and how it impacted you.

I don’t remember one experience, as much as realizing I suddenly had an extended family. I got started because of my dad. He got involved with a small community theatre in my hometown when I was six or so; and, at age eight, he let me audition for A Christmas Carol. I was cast as “Want” with Christmas Present, and I just never stopped showing up at the theatre. I would do anything someone was willing to teach or just let me try.

Walk us through a day-in-the-life of a Stage Supervisor.

What I love about my job is that every day can be different. My days run on a six-week cycle, varying depending on if we are loading in, tech-ing or in show run. The typical show run day (assuming I haven’t had production meetings or extraneous events) starts two hours before curtain, when we clean and preset the stage depending on each show’s needs. After that, I can be found repairing props or assisting board ops, should anything have gone wrong in the pre-show checks. If not, we roll into half hour where the actors get prepped. Once a show starts, I am typically backstage assisting in scenic and prop shifts. After curtain call, it is dishes, clip lights off, and ghost light out.

What led you to pursue a career as a Stage Supervisor?

I started in Stage Management but quickly realized that I did not want to live the freelance lifestyle. I started working backstage and found a group of people that I loved working with every day. So, I worked my way up to Supervisor, learning weapons and automation as I went.

Tell us about your experience as an arts administration apprentice and how that led you to a full-time job at Hartford Stage.

My apprentice year gave me huge insight into the administration side of theatre. That is hard to learn or understand while in college, when you are so far removed from the numbers and employees at a specific theatre. That year also taught me that I am not well suited to be sitting behind a desk for eight hours a day. Despite being a pretty organized person, I still need to be hands-on. Once completing my apprenticeship, I spent the summer stage-managing. When the Hartford Stage season rolled around again, the familiar faces opened the door for me to work backstage.

What is the best part about your job?

I love getting to those first tech runs and figuring out if the tech plans will work, then getting to see how an audience will react. My favorite part is getting everything on stage set to make backstage as efficient as it can be.

What has been your favorite show to work on at Hartford Stage?

Anastasia: huge set, beautiful costumes, amazing video wall, incredible voices. I watched from backstage every night. It was a beast to get up, but it was worth it. There have been two other shows that stick out over the last five years: La Dispute and The Age of Innocence. They have both stuck out as the best theatre I have seen, each with a unique perspective on society and the role it plays in our lives.

Do you have other talents or passions outside of working in theatre?

No hidden talents here. I do love fur-kids a whole lot. I have a 5-year-old black cat named Shadow, who only really likes me and my 2-year-old Saint Bernard, Diesel. If it’s Monday, you will probably find me in the woods with him and anyone else I can convince to join.