Cate featured on the ETSU Homepage in April 2013
Cate stage managing Tallulah Dies at the Cincy Fringe Fest in June 2011
Cate with the cast of Tallulah Dies holding the Dr. Robert J. Thierauf Producer's Pick of the Fringe Award
Cate with Governor of Tennessee Bill Haslam at the State Capitol in February 2013
Calling the cues is a calling for William Cate
April 24, 2013 - A lot can be said for the dedicated person who is always the first to arrive and the last to leave. In the world of theater, that person is the Stage Manager, and at many recent ETSU productions, it was Theatre Major and Dance Minor William Cate ('13) who was usually seen locking up after an evening performance.
Wearing the stage manager's cap is something that Cate has been doing – and loving – since the age of 15, when he stage managed a production of Seussical: The Musical at his hometown alma mater of McMinn County High School.
It was a school project that quickly became a career passion for Cate, who came to ETSU in Fall 2009 to study Theatre with the goal of becoming a professional Stage Manager. He was recruited by ETSU professor Pat Cronin into the Fine and Performing Arts Scholars program in the Honors College.
Now just weeks away from graduation, Cate is more excited than ever. "I love stage managing and I have been given some amazing opportunities here at ETSU to hone my skills," said Cate, who has been the Stage Manager for productions of
Tartuffe: Born Again, An Evening with Beckett and Pinter, Tallulah Dies, two dance concerts and, most recently,
So what does a stage manager do? "It is the stage manager's responsibility to keep the vision of the director and the designers in tack," he explained. "We are involved in every aspect of the production, which includes delegating assignments, calling light and sound cues and setting up props to unlocking doors, turning on the lights and cueing the actors and the persons working in the tech booth that it is time to start the show. At times, we have to be the 'bad cop.'"
Chances are that most patrons have never seen Cate at an ETSU Division of Theatre & Dance production. That's because he prefers to stay close to the tech booth, where he is able to keep his eyes closely fixed on the actors and the stage and call, or announce, each light cue and scene cue through his headset to the technical crew.
"The number of cues varies with each show," he said. "My first show, Tartuffe: Born Again, wasn't too tech-heavy, but other productions, like our dance concerts, involved multiple cues. You really have to be attentive to what is going on or you can easily miss something. We also help actors during rehearsals by giving them the lines they missed," he added. "Sometimes, this means offering constructive criticism or pointing out the number of 'uhs' they gave between words."
Such detailed notes were especially crucial during the rehearsal process for Beautiful Bodies, which was performed at ETSU's Bud Frank Theatre in October 2012. The show's author, Laura Cunningham, visited campus during the run of the show and attended every performance. "Having the author in the audience was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so everything had to be perfect."
In addition to stage managing a show with the playwright in the audience, Cate also was part of the production of Memoir of a Mythomaniac: The True Story of a Compulsive Liar (or Tallulah Dies), which was written by ETSU Division of Theatre & Dance Professor Cara Harker. The play received its world premiere during the 2011 Cincy Fringe Festival in Cincinnati and immediately claimed the "Producer's Pick of Fringe" award. It was presented at ETSU's Bud Frank Theatre in February 2012.
Earlier this semester, Cate was selected to participate in the "Posters on the Hill" day at the State Capitol, an event which brings top undergraduate researchers from across the state to Nashville to present their research work to members of the Tennessee legislature. Cate discussed his work as a stage manager and, in particular, his efforts to mount the production of Beautiful Bodies.