Behind-the-Scenes with ATC’s Glenn Bruner — BLOG POST

Originally published for Arizona Theatre Company’s Cohort Club — 19 December 2019

Today’s ATC Cohort post is dedicated to Glenn Bruner, stage manager extraordinaire. I had the pleasure — and fortune — to spend the afternoon “in the booth” for yesterday’s matinee of SILENT SKY at the Herberger with Glenn and fellow Cohort Edward. After welcoming us and getting the team “show ready”, Glenn explained how the day would go and what to expect during our behind-the-scenes experience. His warmth, professionalism, and dedication to the show are yet another reason why I love being part of the Arizona Theatre Company Cohort Club.

Glenn told Edward and me that if he was “doing his job right,” the audience wouldn’t even know he was there, nestled into the booth at the back of the orchestra level of the house. Truth be told, I saw SILENT SKYweeks ago and had no idea that’s where the booth is in the theater’s layout! I’ve spent years as a performer and director, but I’ve never actually sat in the booth to see an equity stage manager make magic. For Glenn, it’s more like he’s “making music,” at least with this particular show. It was amazing to see him quietly guide his team of 12 (7 crew members and 5 actors) through the intricate sound, music, and projection cues of the two-act show. He literally conducted the story from the booth!

I’ve always had respect for stage management, but I have a new level of awe for the way Glenn takes on the role. He explained how he was there to “serve the story and Henrietta and the astronomers” on stage. He talked about trust and how it was his job to take care of the actors who put themselves out there each day and each show. This is Glenn’s 21st season with ATC, and it is clear why. He cares about the work, the art, and the people.

An added bonus was witnessing the American Sign Language interpreters House Left. Yesterday’s matinee was the ASL interpreted performance offering. The signers were present for the entire show, and Glenn called “live cues” for their light so that the hearing impaired audience members could clearly see the actors and the signers and still experience the brilliant lighting design. It was remarkable to see the precision during the transitions, especially with the in-the-moment adjustments for the lighting cues.

What’s more, Glenn offered to give me and Edward a backstage tour to see how the projector is set up for the oculus center stage. As we traveled backstage right, one of the patrons was there with the ASL signers. She caught Glenn’s attention, and they said hello. Glenn shared his gratitude for the audience program and told us he had met this patron before and was happy to see her back for another show. Another layer of excellence is the detail in Henrietta’s storyline that navigates her own hearing impairment. The use of the hearing aid and moments of silence propel the story. This is a brilliant show to combine sign language and technical storytelling techniques through light, projections, and transitions. I thought to myself, “How remarkable!” Another aspect of the audience experience I take for granted.

There are so many players involved to make show magic happen, and I am grateful that I was able to witness SILENT SKY from behind-the-scenes. One of Glenn’s goals as a stage manager may be to seamlessly call the show unseen, but I feel compelled to call attention to him now and highlight how gracious, creative, and meticulous he is in his craft. Thank you, Glenn.

Originally published at



Content by Carolyn Marie Wright. Artistic Director of Humanity Play Project. Theatre Director & Teacher at Brophy College Prep. Member of SAG–AFTRA and AEA. Editor of ElevAATE.

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Carolyn Marie Wright

Artist & Educator. 🎭🎥📝 Artistic Director of Humanity Play Project. Member of SAG–AFTRA and AEA. Editor of ElevAATE.