Experienced stage manager joins ASU to mentor theater students

By

Lacy Chaffee

The Arizona State University School of Music, Dance and Theatre has announced Katie Peavey as clinical assistant professor of stage and production management.

Peavey is a freelance Equity stage manager who moved to Phoenix from Philadelphia right before the pandemic. She has been a faculty associate mentoring ASU students for the past year, as well as teaching the Introduction to Stage Management course. 

“We are excited to have Katie Peavey join our community,” said Heather Landes, director of the ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre. “Katie’s expertise, her creative activity and professional experience, and her commitment to safe set practices will enhance the specialized design and production course offerings she creates for our students.”

Peavey is a Drexel University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in entertainment and arts management. She is a member of the Stage Managers’ Association and has been a member of Actors’ Equity Association since 2015, where she also participates as a member of the stage management committee. She first discovered theater production and stage management in high school. She said she found her leadership and problem-solving skills were valuable assets in the field, and the creativity kept her hooked.

“A lot of people don't necessarily think of it as a creative field because it's a lot of reports, management, timekeeping, that kind of stuff,” Peavey said, “But the problem solving is where the artistry comes out — figuring out how to fit a ridiculous amount of furniture backstage or calling a really complicated sequence or when everything goes wrong and you're in the middle of a performance.”

Peavey’s position is a hybrid of production management and stage management; she will be the production manager for the theater department, mentoring the production management and stage management students as well as teaching stage management classes. She said that helping students find answers and solve problems is the best part of her job.

“I personally believe that if you're not continuing to learn through the rest of your career, you're doing it wrong,” she said. “How do you learn how to problem solve unless you have problems? I've always liked the learning side of it. I enjoy asking questions: How are you thinking about it? Let’s look at this and figure it out together.”

Peavey’s work has taken her to Arizona, California, New York and Philadelphia. Some of her favorite past credits include the international tour of “50 Shades! The Musical Parody” as well as “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Daddy Long Legs” and “Sondheim on Sondheim” with The Phoenix Theatre Company. She said that finding mentors is extremely important for stage managers.

“I would recommend talking to anyone who you can,” Peavey said. “A lot of stage managers are willing to sit down and have coffee or even let you shadow them during a show. If you reach out to them, they are going to be willing to talk to you about their experience or offer advice. Speak to anyone you can to learn as much as they're willing to share.”

In recent years, ASU theater has been focusing on safety and consent during rehearsals and productions, and Peavey said she is excited to be part of those forward-thinking changes.

“The question for me is: How do I use what I've experienced in professional theater to help the next generation learn how to deal with it? I want to help them know what is acceptable, what is not acceptable and how to set boundaries for themselves,” Peavey said. “I think that's a really exciting thing to be doing.”

Peavey said she advises students to maintain perspective and stay positive.

“I truly believe in working with a smile on your face. If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong,” she said. “We're playing make believe and telling stories. So as storytellers, we should be enjoying what we're doing. Now, some of our stories are going to be hard, they're going to be heavy and overwhelming, but there should be something that we get out of it.

“This industry is too hard. It takes too much of you if you're not in love with it.”