By Jay Hemphill
Attend IU Theatre’s production of Three Sisters and you will witness talented theatre students breathing life into some of Chekhov’s classic characters. Someone you won’t see on the stage, someone who is just out of view in the shadows, is the show’s stage manager Rocki Hudson.
Rocki (aka Rochelle) Hudson is a lover of lasagna, pandas, Costa Rican vacations, ice cream (even though she says she is lactose intolerant), and the color purple. Currently a junior at IU, she is majoring in Theater and Drama with a specialty in stage management. Originally from Indianapolis, Rocki was first introduced to theatre in the 6th grade, when she saw a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
When preparing for life after high school, Rocki had not planned on attending IU or studying Theatre and Drama. Inspired by her own personal struggles with dyslexia and her special education teachers, Rocki initially planned to major in Special Education/Primary Care. However, after participating in a Groups Scholars summer program, her plans changed. During the six-week program at IU, Rocky took a theatre class. In the class she was introduced to some MFA and BFA students and worked as an assistant stage manager (ASM) for a production of The Colored Museum.
In her time at IU, Rocki has stage managed for several productions. On the IU Theatre mainstage she has worked as an ASM for The Drowsy Chaperone, Dancing at Lughnasa, and Macbeth. She has also stage managed several independent productions, including The Tempest and These Shining Lives.
When asked to name her favorite IU production, Rocki promptly says, “Three Sisters, definitely.” Continuing on, she explains, “Because I get to play a major role in a mainstage production, with all the responsibilities that entails. This production has taught me a lot about myself and allowed me to utilize the stage managing skills and knowledge I have acquired at IU.”
Stage managing her first mainstage show hasn’t come without its challenges. “One of the hardest parts about of being a stage manager is balancing all the personalities,” said Hudson. “For example, in Three Sisters there are 17 actors, two musicians, three assistant stage managers, and two directors. As a stage manager, it is my job to understand everyone’s needs and quirks, and how best to communicate with them.”
As she nears the halfway point of her junior year, Rocki is making plans for her future. After visiting Las Vegas with Trish Hausmann’s class last year, Rocki was drawn to the city and its large scale productions. Following her graduate, she hopes to relocate to Las Vegas and work at one of the big casino theaters, stage managing for shows like Cirque du Soleil or Blue Man Group. Graduate school is also in her future. After taking a gap year, Rocki would like to pursue her MFA in Stage Management at UNLV.
Rocki’s advice for other theatre students, or anyone considering a career in the theatre, “Just go for it. I did. Someone else saw something in me and said, “You might be good at this.”
Jay Hemphill is a first-year M.F.A. actor who will appear as “Mrs. Bumbreck/Teacher” in the upcoming Peter and the Starcatcher at the end of October in the Ruth N. Halls.
Jay has appeared in productions at Indianapolis’s Phoenix Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, and 2016 IndyFringe Festival, and at Music Theatre Louisville and Clarence Brown Theatre. Jay is from Indianapolis, IN.