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Associate Professor Christopher Sadler Co-edits Stage Management Essay Collection

Christopher Sadler, associate professor in the University of Oklahoma Helmerich School of Drama, is co-editor and contributor to Off Headset: Essays on Stage Management Life, Work, and Career, a book published by Routledge Press with release date set for Jan. 27, 2022.

Co-edited by Sadler and Rafael Jaen, associate professor of theatre and performing arts chair at UMass Boston, Off Headset: Essays on Stage Management Life, Work, and Career collects in three sections essays written by a diverse group of stage management professionals and educators and covers the challenges stage managers face on the job, in their lives and in their careers. The publication weaves practical advice with personal anecdotes and serves as a resource to stage management university students and the industry’s working professionals.  

“When I first discussed the idea of this collection with co-editor Rafael Jaen and then later in the proposal to the publisher, I pointed out that just about every book written about stage management was procedural — how to stage manage,” said Sadler. “There wasn't a volume out there that was a collection of stage managers' stories: stories that not only showed us the person, but as a whole revealed our art and craft in a completely new way.”

In addition to co-editing the work, Sadler contributed to Part 3: Career, with an essay titled Maxwell, Brown, and Co: Learning from Corporate Management. The chapter explains the process of finding the ideas that crafted the course Advanced Stage Management, taught by Sadler at OU. “Students have told me it was their most valuable class while at OU, and I wanted to share those ideas to a larger audience — what can stage managers learn from corporate management and leadership concepts and apply them to our work in the performing arts?” explained Sadler. “It's not a stretch, surprisingly.”

Off Headset is a must read for anyone considering a career in stage management,” stated OU Helmerich School of Drama director Seth Gordon. “Professor Sadler and his colleague have done an excellent job of assembling a first-rate group of experts in the field – practitioners at the top of their profession talking about the work.”

According to the publisher’s website, Off Headset: Essays on Stage Management Life, Work, and Career starts with the intersectional history of stage managers and the actors’ union. In Part 1: Work, the contributors share a wide range of experiences, from regional theatre and Broadway to operas and cruises – even running with the circus. In Part 2: Life, essays explore the relevance of stage managers claiming their identity, their resilience and practicing self-care. Part 3: Career offers aspirational and business advice, exploring such topics as leadership, networking, unemployment, managing demanding calendars and career planning. The book ends with a on a tech note, a direct response to the ongoing pandemic. 

“The contributors ARE Off Headset,” stated Sadler, when asked about the process of working with the diverse group of stage management professionals who contributed to the publication. “All their different experiences really emphasize the uniqueness and value of every stage manager. I was and am humbled by their talent, their stories, their hard work and patience with the process [of contributing to the book]”.

Sadler has led the stage management emphasis in the Helmerich School of Drama since his arrival at OU in 2005. He teaches multiple courses in stage and theatre management and dramatic literature and is the adviser for the school’s theatre minor. In 2019, Sadler was named the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts Irene and Julian J. Rothbaum Presidential Professor of Excellence in the Arts.

Sadler holds a master of fine arts degree in stage management from the University of California San Diego and a bachelor of fine arts degree from Ithaca College. A member of the Actors' Equity Association since 1999, Sadler has a successful freelancing career, having been part of stage management teams for over 100 productions at theatres nationwide.

An award-winning costume designer, educator and author, Jaen is a United States Institute for Theatre Technology Fellow, the USITT vice president for communications (2019–2022) and a past National Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Design, Technology and Management chair. He is the author of SHOWCASE (2011) and Digital Costume Design and Collaboration (2017) by Focal Press/Routledge, and the series editor for the USITT/Focal Press Backstage series.

Off Headset: Essays on Stage Management Life, Work, and Career is available for sale now at several marketplaces, including the publisher’s website.

Why choose the University of Oklahoma?

Drama performance major Jackie Simmons sat down with OU Admissions & Recruitment and shared her Sooner experience and why she chose the Helmerich School of Drama.


The Helmerich School of Drama at the University of Oklahoma is now accepting applications for a full-time tenure-track
Assistant Professor of Performance.  



School of Drama Alum Has Broadway Lighting Design Debut

Adam Honoré, a lighting design alumnus of the Helmerich School of Drama, is making his Broadway design debut this fall as the lighting designer for the upcoming comedy production Chicken and Biscuits.

Adam Honoré

Directed by Zhailon Levingston and featuring Tony Award nominee and Broadway veteran Norm Lewis and Drama Desk winner Michael Urie, Chicken and Biscuits is the new Broadway raucous family comedy by Douglas Lyons, telling the story of a family coming together to celebrate the life of their father. “Expect to see transformation; a story we are all familiar with in a new light,” stated Honoré. With performances beginning Sept. 23 at the Circle in the Square Theatre, more information about the production can be found here.

“It will be a truly exciting and tearful moment to see a Design and Production alumnus on the title page of a Broadway Playbill,” stated Jon Young, Helmerich School of Drama professor of scenic design. “As a 2015 graduate from our BFA program, Adam has had a meteoric rise within our industry over the past six years and he is only just getting started. Look out, world!”

Since earning his bachelor of fine arts degree in drama in 2015, Honoré has rapidly accomplished a successful career as a lighting designer for plays, musicals and live events, nationally and internationally. His résumé includes off-Broadway productions, regional and national tours, and international premieres. Honoré's work has been seen in Austria, Canada and the Philippines, where he designed the international premiere of Fun Home, featuring Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga.

The Harlem-based designer has received several prestigious industry awards, nominations and accolades. Honoré is a Drama Desk, Henry Hewes, and Helen Hayes Award nominee; Audience Development Committee, Inc (AUDELCO) award recipient and listed on Live Design Magazine’s "30 Under 30".

Originally from New Orleans, Honoré is the first OU School of Drama alum to officially head the lighting design of a Broadway production. “This will also be the first live theater production I have designed since the pandemic. Being back at the theater will feel like a wonderful homecoming, an exhilarating and exciting new step in my career,” stated Honoré.

“OU Drama has, over its many years, seen its alumni excel in fields throughout the entertainment industry, but Broadway will always be seen as the standard by which success is measured,” said Seth Gordon, director at the Peggy V. Helmerich School of Drama. “To have Adam Honoré designing one of the first plays to go into production on Broadway coming out of the pandemic is a tremendous affirmation of the level of training we provide here. Adam is going to be an important leader in his field as his career continues to develop, and we’re very proud to be associated with his success.”

Learn more about Adam and his work here.

OU Together: COVID-19 Resources


The University of Oklahoma has resumed  in-person classes at regular capacity university-wide for the fall 2021 semester. 

OU TOGETHER serves as a centralized, evolving resource for our Norman campus operations. Please visit frequently for the latest information. Find information about COVID-19 resources and masking protocols here.


Long before the University of Oklahoma was established, the land on which the University now resides was the traditional home of the “Hasinais” Caddo Nation and “Kirikirʔi:s” Wichita & Affiliated Tribes.

We acknowledge this territory once also served as a hunting ground, trade exchange point, and migration route for the Apache, Comanche, Kiowa and Osage nations. 

Today, 39 tribal nations dwell in the state of Oklahoma as a result of settler and colonial policies that were designed to assimilate Native people.

The University of Oklahoma recognizes the historical connection our university has with its indigenous community. We acknowledge, honor and respect the diverse Indigenous peoples connected to this land. We fully recognize, support and advocate for the sovereign rights of all of Oklahoma’s 39 tribal nations. This acknowledgement is aligned with our university’s core value of creating a diverse and inclusive community. It is an institutional responsibility to recognize and acknowledge the people, culture and history that make up our entire OU Community.