Stage manager returns to roots for UpStart 20 festival
Darius Hahn (BA ’18) reflects on his time at Waterloo, and why he’s glad to be back for the event that gave him his start.
Darius Hahn (BA ’18) reflects on his time at Waterloo, and why he’s glad to be back for the event that gave him his start.By Darius Hahn (BA ’18) Alumnus
My name is Darius Hahn, and I graduated from UWaterloo with an Honours BA in Theatre and Performance in 2018.
I am currently a stage manager working all over Canada, and I’m proud to say that I’ve been invited back by my department to stage manage Things We Lost in the Aftermath as part of the UpStart 20 Festival.
My connection to this festival goes all the way back to my second year as an undergad. UpStart 16 was the very first UWaterloo production I was involved in, four years ago. At the time, I was brand new to the world of theatre, so I was nervous and unsure of what to expect. But the beauty of UpStart is that it is from start to finish a student endeavour. The shows are written by students, designed by students and performed by students, which makes it a great way for people who are new to theatre to get their feet wet and see what the production process is like on a smaller, but still professional, scale. In the end, UpStart taught me what theatre is and can be, and it is directly responsible for the career I have now.
UWaterloo also introduced me to what stage management is. My first position as an assistant stage manager was on our production Unconscious Curriculum: Rape Culture on Campus. I appreciated the experience so much that I went on to stage manage the next year’s production of Concord Floral. Both shows taught me about an entirely different side of theatre, and I truly found what I wanted to do with my career after university.
After graduating, I gigged around a bit as a carpenter, lighting technician and sound technician. I was equipped with a breadth of knowledge that allowed me to undertake jobs in many different areas of production. I soon began stage managing small shows in the KW area. The first major SM contract I received took me out to Newfoundland, driving a truck full of set pieces and costumes from Toronto to St. John’s and back for a touring ballet performance. That was an insane adventure that now accounts for nearly all of my standard interview answers. (“Name a time you’ve solved a difficult problem on the job” – Does helping to remove a 90° truck from a ditch that your co-worker slid into at midnight count as solving a problem? Because, yeah.)
Within a year of graduating I began my first Equity apprenticeship. In Canada, the association responsible for actors, stage managers, directors, and more is the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association (think of it as the union, basically). To become a member as a stage manager, I need to work as an apprentice on a minimum of six shows. I got my first apprenticeship in early 2019 at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg. Since then, I’ve apprenticed at the Port Stanley Festival Theatre, Theatre Orangeville and the Grand Theatre in London. Soon I’ll be returning to the Grand and then moving to the Upper Canada Playhouse in Morrisburg.
As of May, I will be able to join Equity and continue on with my career (with some added benefits and safety nets). But for now, my focus is back at school, as we are midway through rehearsals for UpStart 20. It’s been a great experience to reconnect with staff and students and help move a new generation of theatre creators towards their goals. I’m eternally grateful to my mentors and colleagues from school, without whom I may never have realized what I truly wanted to do with my life.
I hope you’ll be able to come out and see the show! And hey, why not stick around and chat with the backstage team? You might learn some things you might not have expected about the wonderful world of live theatre.
Darius Hahn (BA ’18) is a proud alumnus of the Faculty of Arts. He has worked as an apprentice stage manager at theatres in Manitoba, Ontario and Newfoundland.