This December, Wesley Fay Yount of Centerville, Ohio, will graduate from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from CCM's highly selective stage management program. At the age of 20, Yount will be the youngest recipient of a bachelor's degree in UC’s Fall Commencement Ceremony. Thanks to CCM’s immersive stage management program, she has already gained a wealth of professional experience in her field of choice.
Yount was first drawn to the performing arts through Centerville High School’s theatre program and she found the role of the stage manager particularly intriguing. “Stage management always appealed to me because I saw it as the perfect blend between the artistic and the technical,” she says.
“The stage manger's task is to take care of the details so that the director, designers and cast can be free to develop the art of the production,” explains CCM Professor of Stage Management Michele Kay. In many ways, the stage manager serves as the logistical nexus for complex productions and is often called upon to think and react quickly in critical situations.
In short, Yount characterizes a stage manager as “a leader, confidant, facilitator, conductor, puzzle-solver, handyman and encyclopedia.”
Coming to UC was an easy choice for Yount.
“When I discovered in my college search that one of the top technical theatre schools in the country was less than an hour from my hometown, it was a no-brainer,” she says. “The faculty’s real-world experience and connections, the resources available to students and the scale and sheer number of productions set CCM apart from other BFA programs.”
CCM’s Department of Theatre Design and Production takes a holistic approach to training professionals in the various areas of technical theatre, including stagecraft, scenic, lighting, sound, costume, wig and make-up design. “Through my classes at CCM I gained experience in carpentry, lighting design and technology, sound technology, script analysis, score interpretation, Italian, theatrical unions, stage makeup and wigs, drafting, costuming, playing, reading and dance,” she says. “But within the time I was studying, I also learned priceless lessons in time management, commitment, reliability, flexibility, positivity, solidarity and confidence.”
Yount worked as a stage manager or house manager on numerous theatrical and concert productions at CCM and cited work on last spring’s Studio Series production of Execution of Justice as one of her favorite experiences. “The designers and cast of that production were almost entirely students,” she explains. “The atmosphere created by an all-student company is exciting and infectious and bursting with potential. I was very proud to be a part of something so beautiful and effective.”
Yount is also grateful for the time she got to spend with audience members at CCM. “I loved interacting with our patrons,” she says. “They are very important to our field and easily underestimated when you are on the other side of the proscenium.”
In addition to the valuable experience she has received working on CCM productions, Yount has also received on-the-job training with internationally acclaimed professional companies. She recently completed an internship with the innovative Canadian entertainment company Cirque Du Soleil, working on their Zarkana production in Las Vegas. During that time, she worked alongside Olympic athletes from throughout the world, conferred with pioneering technicians and designers and experienced what it takes to maintain a show that is expected to run for years.
While she confesses that many of these experiences have been completely new to her, Yount has felt well prepared thanks to her multifaceted training at CCM. “During the time I’ve been working with [Zarkana], I’ve been learning and practicing all of the skills I would need as an employed stage manager for any Cirque production,” she explains. “I’m constantly using all of the skills I learned at CCM and through my work outside of school. Even the Italian has been useful!”
After graduation, Yount will begin an internship at the internationally renowned Goodman Theatre in Chicago, working on an upcoming production of Tracey Scott Wilson’s dark comedy Buzzer. From there, the future is filled with possibilities. “I would love to continue working, learning and exploring in Las Vegas with Cirque du Soleil,” she says. “I also have an interest in traveling with a touring production or moving to New York City to continue on with the companies I worked with this past summer.”
Learn more about CCM’s Stage Management program by visiting ccm.uc.edu/theatre/tdp/stage-management.html.