The Choreography of Stage Management with Mia Caress

Circus News

The Choreography of Stage Management with Mia Caress

Any role in a circus production could be considered — to use an old idiom — a cog in the wheel. But if there is one person that has the honor and responsibility of turning the crank that sets the whole machine in motion, it’s the stage manager. This final article of The Circus Designer Series pays homage to the specialized expertise of circus stage managers. I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Mia Caress, a performer, production manager, and stage manager who hails from four generations of circus folk. “My great-grandparents had a dog act with Ringling. My grandmother was raised on the show. She did head-to-head and hand-to-head on the wire with her sister. My grandfather rigged my grandmother’s act, and they drove to various cities. He used to pack his eyelids with tobacco to stay awake on the road. Isn’t that crazy? My mom was raised on the road with Ringling, training in everything, as kids do with the circus. She grew up in a sixty-foot trailer where they would go out and shoot their dinner wherever they were.”
Caress noted the differences in her upbringing compared to her ancestors, but she also emphasized how circus people always felt like home: “Circus people reading this article will understand that there’s a certain type of person that feels really familiar.” Caress recalled growing up around the Show Folks of Sarasota, Florida. “Even if I’d met them for the first time, there was something about them that spoke to me as a kindred spirit.” Mia Caress, stage manager for Cirque Le Masque, next to stacking chairs for a chair balance act. Photo courtesy of Mia Caress. Caress trained as a dance...
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Madeline Hoak

Madeline Hoak is an artist and academic who creates with, through, and about circus. She is a Writer for CircusTalk, Adjunct Professor of Aerial Arts and American Circus History at Pace University, Editor and Curatorial Director of TELEPHONE: an international arts game, and curator and director of Cirkus Moxie, a weekly contemporary circus show at Brooklyn Art Haus. Madeline has performed, coached, produced, and choreographed at elite regional and international venues. Her background in dance and physical theater is infiltrated into her coaching and creation style. She is passionate about providing her students holistic circus education that includes physical, historical, theoretical resources. Madeline initiated the Aerial Acrobatics program at her alma mater, Muhlenberg College, where she taught from 2012-2017. She is also a regular contributor to Cirkus Syd's Circus Thinkers international reading group. Her circus research has been supported by Pace, NYU, and Concordia University. Recent publications include "Teaching the Mind-Body: Integrating Knowledges through Circus Arts'' (with Alisan Funk, Dan Berkley), a chapter in Art as an Agent for Social Change, "expanding in(finite) between," a multimedia essay in Circus Thinks: Reflections, 2020, and "Digital Dance & TELEPHONE: A Unique Spectator Experience." Madeline has presented academic papers at numerous conferences including Circus and its Others (UC Davis), International Federation for Theatre Research (University of Reykjavík), the Popular Culture Association, Gallatin (NYU), and McGill University. Madeline earned an MA from Gallatin, New York University’s School of Independent Study, where she designed a Circus Studies curriculum with a focus on spectatorship.