Stage management: A question of approach in intercultural theatre

Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)


Faculty of Education and Arts

First Supervisor

Associate Professor Maggi Phillips

Second Supervisor

Adjunct Professor Glen Phillips


This thesis questions the complexities of stage management in crosscultural exchanges by way of a case study surrounding the mounting and maintenance of an original theatrical production in Bali, utilising an introduced western theatre style. The collaboration takes place in the newly constructed mega-theatre at the Bali Safari and Marine Park in Gianyar (2010). As an American-Australian stage manager, my research is predicated on experiences of leading and mentoring a team of ten Indonesian (Balinese and Javanese) stage managers in procedures required to manage a technically-advanced, large-scale production. Bali Agung presents a legend of Balinese goddesses in a production that was created by an international artistic team featuring a cast of more than 150 Balinese performers, plus 11 species of animals and supported by a technical team of approximately 70. Due to the inexperience of the team, formal training became an aspect of the exchange. During the research process, I returned to Bali numerous times for data collection, further mentoring, rehearsals and productions at Bali Theatre, thus couching the investigation in an ethnographic study and an integral action research feedback loop.

The investigative focus is on the production requirements of a mega show in an intercultural context and the unique and extraordinary considerations that were encountered in the process. Considerations include theoretical concepts such as syncretism, interculturalism, hybridity, time, communication, safety management and religion, all of which have bearings on this case study. Re-evaluation of the production processes by means of interviews, observation, action research and ethnography offers the opportunity to shed new light on approaches to stage management and the training of stage managers in an intercultural context. Framed by a professional theatrical production, this practice-led study explores ideas of synthesis, cultural variation, knowledge transfer and assumptions embedded in theatrical processes, and brings into focus previously undocumented creative negotiations and complexities of exchange, which offer new concepts in the discipline of stage management.

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