Call Miriam: Rochford stage manages all over the place, from the first-ever show at Tampa Rep to Stageworks’ upcoming Venus in Fur to the independent production of Mindy Kaling’s Matt and Ben opening at CL Space this weekend. She says she’s the one companies call when their full-time SM needs a break: “I am every theater in the area’s second choice.” Her end game is not to be a vagabond SM but to have a home of her own, but for now she’s content.
The work suits her: “I’m a right brain person in a left brain world — I color code everything.” She comes from a family with a strong interest in the arts — her parents met at an audition for Hamlet, her mother’s the full-time house manager for freeFall, her brother is musician Noel Rochford of UNRB, profiled in CL’s most recent Music Issue. The first time she stage managed she knew she’d discovered her niche. “Suddenly it all made sense.” She SM’d all through USF, where she got her theater arts degree, and the month before she graduated she got her first professional gig: Jobsite needed someone to run the booth for Yellowman. “From then on I haven’t given myself a break. The first week of not having a show is nice, the second week I start to get stir-crazy.”
So is stage managing an art? “I think so — maybe much more of a structured art. It requires a lot of balance and time management — it’s definitely a test of your sanity sometimes. Invariably, no matter how smoothly or terribly my tech week is going, I will always have one day when I go, ‘Why do I do this?’ Then I set foot in the theater and I go, ‘This is why.’ If I’m doing my job properly, nobody knows I was there. I like knowing that, even if there was a train wreck, [I] pulled it off and no one even knew — that’s perfect.”
But she really wants to be a director, right? Nope. “That’s something I never could grasp, the mind set of stage managing because you really want to be an actor or a director — as a means to an end. It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was 14.”
But it doesn’t quite pay the bills — yet: She works a day job as a contract administrator at an IT firm. “It lends itself to being organized and a little anal-retentive.”
Aren’t you…? Having a more famous brother can be a little wearing at times. She gets asked so often if she’s “Noel’s sister” that she calls it “being Noel-sistered.” She’s very proud of him, though, and is quite fine with him being the “attention-seeking ham” in the family. “I’d much rather sit in the booth and fiddle with the lights.”