Sarah Nochenson started at Juilliard in the summer of 2010 as a stage management intern and ended up being hired the next year by what was then the Music Technology Center and is now the Center for Innovation in the Arts. In addition to managing the center’s day-to-day activities, she also produces its twice-yearly Beyond the Machine concerts—the next one takes place on March 27-30 (see related article on Page 3). Sarah grew up in Wayne, N.J., and studied theater and English (with a concentration in film and media studies) at Bucknell University. A member of Actor’s Equity, she is also an independent film producer and is currently working on her second feature, Asockalypse. She’s also the office manager of Park Boulevard Productions, a boutique audio visual company.
How did you decide to go into stage management?
I became a stage manager because I had become disillusioned with my then-major in secondary English education by my sophomore year. A good friend told me that I lived my life like a stage manager and said I should try it out. I didn’t even know what a stage manager did at that point, but I signed up to work on a Bucknell production of True West the next day—and never looked back!
What’s one of your favorite Juilliard memories?
During my first week as an intern, I had to come in and run a rehearsal on a Saturday. I was still mostly lost in what at the time was a confusing maze of hallways, and all of a sudden, it seemed that the students all shrunk. I didn’t know about the Pre-College program, and it seemed like children had invaded the School!
How was the transition from being an intern to being an employee?
Surprisingly easy. The relationships that I had formed with the various divisions and members of the production staff during my intern year have been invaluable in my current position, and I felt very at home by the time I made the switch.
What is the most memorable job you’ve had?
Teaching stage management to current students at Bucknell—it really made me feel like I had accomplished something to be invited back to my undergrad to teach what I had studied!
What’s the craziest day at work you’ve ever had?
The craziest day in my current position was when Hurricane Sandy hit during tech week for our November Beyond the Machine concert. My boss and I were on the phone constantly trying to make decisions about how to still showcase the work that everyone had put into the concert while not asking anyone to do something unsafe. We ended up completely overhauling the rehearsal schedule and still being able to pull off one performance, but it was a very difficult decision to make and required a lot of legwork.
If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do with your free time?
Either immediately start working on one of my other jobs, since I always have a ton on my plate, or spend the day walking around Central Park. I always forget to take advantage of the fact that such a beautiful place is so close to Juilliard.
How do you balance your job and your artistic endeavors?
Being on an academic schedule is wonderful for a working artist! I typically pick up a theater stage management or film producing project during the summer and winter breaks. I also sub Off Broadway—currently as the stage manager and assistant stage manager for Forever Dusty—which is an occasional commitment that still lets me do what I love. Other than that, it is a lot of working nights and weekends.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I’m a second degree black belt in tae kwon do. During high school and early college I was an instructor for kids as young as 3 years old and adults of all ages. It has been a few years since I formally trained, but it’s something that will always be part of who I am.
What is your favorite thing about New York City?
The fact that it is completely normal to have multiple jobs and to be trying to do what you love. I have friends all over the country who think I’m crazy for being a film producer and a stage manager and an office manager and a manager at Juilliard, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! I love being challenged absolutely every day and learning something new with every job that I do.
What are you reading?
I’ve been reading through Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. There are almost 40 books that take place in the wonderfully whimsical fantasy world, and I’m really enjoying them all.
What social media do you follow (if any) and why?
I use Facebook as a networking tool, and I even have a once-a-month soundboard gig that books me exclusively through Facebook. I joke that I am terrible at the Internet other than that, though, since I don’t typically have time to sit and look at things on other social media sites.