Brooke Hindinger ’25 is the stage manager in the upcoming NMH production of “10 Out of 12,” a play by celebrated American playwright, Anne Washburn. Hindinger is not the actual stage manager. That is, she plays the role of the fictional stage manager.
“10 Out of 12” is, in a word, meta. The play tells the story of a group of theater people getting ready to open their show to an audience. The setting for the show is a fictional theater tech rehearsal where lights are being focused, sound levels are being changed, staging is being adjusted, and, according to NMH Theater Program Director Jared Eberlein “tempers are flaring.”
“The challenge of blending the real world with the play is particularly exciting,” Eberlein said. “The chance to pull back the curtain and show an audience what it really takes to pull off a fluid production, by showing all the seams in this one, is exciting.”
Eberlein views the play as an opportunity to build appreciation for the people responsible for the nuts and bolts of theater productions. “Directors and actors always get the interviews and awards,” he said. “The person that tapes the cable on the floor so no one trips on it as they cross backstage won't ever win an award, but their job is equally as important.”
For Hindinger, the experience has offered deeper insight into the demands faced by the folks behind the scenes while also testing her skills as an actor. “This experience has been unlike any other theatrical performance I’ve been a part of,” she said. “Learning how to operate our headsets while remembering lines has been especially difficult, but by far the hardest part has been learning how to act like a ‘normal person.’”
This sentiment was echoed by Henry Ormont ’26. Ormont, who plays the director, said that he, too, has benefitted from the change of perspective. “I’ve noticed how difficult it is to keep things running smoothly during a show,” he said.
Hindinger’s biggest challenge was to develop authentic mannerisms and a persona while “avoiding overacting.” Her character sits among the audience calling cues and managing glitches to ensure the rehearsal runs smoothly.
Hindinger enjoyed the odd nature of the self-referential experience. In addition to honing her acting chops, she’s found the production of “10 out of 12” to just be a fun experience. “There is something special about being able to look around a theater and see actors completely in character while also being offstage,” she said.
With the production opening this weekend, Eberlein is curious to see how the audience will respond. He believes “10 Out of 12” is the perfect pairing with the tried-and-true “Les Mis,” the 2023 fall play.
This time around, it will be the director, not the audience, on the edge of his seat. “‘Will we lose the audience here?’ is the question at hand,” Eberlein said. “Audiences in 2024 want information delivered to them quickly and on their terms. We're asking them to give over to an environment, an experience, that is less controlled and linear than they'll be used to. The greatest challenge is that we won't know until we open if we struck that balance."
“10 Out of 12” will be performed at the Lois C. Chiles Theater in the Rhodes Art on Thursday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 pm; Friday, Feb. 9, at 7:30 pm; and Saturday, Feb. 10, at 7:30 pm. Tickets are available.