Jun 12, 2011

Guest blogger: Thomas Mieth, stage manager


I am the virgin writer on this blog today, and apart from a few angry outbursts at multinational companies, I don’t go around writing stuff on the internet. I am certainly not the kind of guy, who writes every move I make, or any emotional state I would be going through on Facebook, though I must admit that I have a profile there. 
I was however challenged to write a few words about what I - as a stage manager - experience during our American tour, and I chose to pick up the glove.

Stage manager Thomas Mieth getting ready for an evening with Napoli
This is my first trip to the states, so coming here with The Royal Danish Ballet is of course something I have been looking forward to with great anticipation. 

I have not actively read this blog before, but I am sure all the glamour surrounding the Queens visit has been eagerly described, so I am going to give a behind the scenes view, at some of the heroes behind the scenes. 

First up is my main man Owen. On Monday this week, a selected group was invited to a reception at the Danish embassy here in Washington. At this reception, Tina Højlund was to perform ”The Egg” by Esther Lee Wilkinson. 

Somebody had to get the actual Egg Chair there, and that somebody ended up being me. 

The Kennedy Center supplied a van and a driver. That driver was Owen. When we were first introduced by the Godfather of the Kennedy Center, Mickey Berra, who I will be coming back to later, he said:” This is Owen, he’ll go with you and give you a hand. If you shoot him, use two bullets”. 

Luckily I never had to bring out my gun, and Owen showed to be the perfect help. We went to the embassy in a rather scruffy looking van, and at first they didn’t seem very keen on opening the gates at the embassy. We did eventually get in, and had a brief discussion about where to set up”The Egg”. Knowing that it wasn’t the perfect spot, Owen and I laid out the marley and placed the chair. Then Owen went for a nap in the van, while I waited for Tina and other assorted characters to arrive. 

When they finally arrived, Tina expressed kindly that the first position of the chair was not suitable for the performance (I knew it!), so I went and woke up Owen in the van. But with great patience he just went in with me, and we moved the set-up, and also installed a sound system. We made an appointment about the get-out of the gear, and Owen where to arrive at the embassy, shortly after the performance on the veranda, that Her Majesty and the Prince Consort enjoyed. 

My esteemed colleagues Brian ”The Violin”, Vagn ”The Outlaw” and Ole ”O.J.”, and me, got the gear out in the parking lot, so we could quickly stick the stuff in the back of Owen’s van, and it would be out of our hair. But needles to say, Owen and his scruffy, black Dodge, was not admitted to the embassy by Secret Service.

We eventually persuaded ”the suits” that Owen was a cool guy, and had no intension of fowl play, and he was admitted to the parking lot. And what sight met us there? Owen stepped out of the van in black slacks, white shirt and a tie, not at all looking like the stage hand he did in the afternoon. He did this for us, even though he just made a pick-up at the embassy parking lot.

Owen! If you ever read this, you were the hero of the day, and a funny and cool guy with it. I hope you don’t get so surprised, next time you see a Danish toilet flushing the opposite direction as an American one ;-) Word! 

As a stage manager Thomas Mieth makes sure that
everything runs smoothly during performances.
Another funny guy was the stage hand, whose name I unfortunately forgot, who taught me what the best American lager was. I asked him on stage which was the best lager, and he responded”Yuengling”. 

I immediately took off for the liquor store, but was caught up on the way by my new friend, who said to follow him.

We ended up in the garage below The Kennedy Center, and after walking around a bit, he suddenly opened the trunk of a car. In the trunk was a picnic cooler with ice, and of course a couple of Yuenglings. He offered me one, but I guess I was so stunned by him, and also deep down so stringent about not drinking during working hours (even though I wasn’t calling the show, there was still a performance going on. And at home we’re not allowed to enjoy alcohol before after the final curtain), that I declined it.

Ever since the incident, I have felt really bad about it, so dear friend, whose name I will certainly learn, during the Napoli performances: I didn’t mean to be rude, and I should of course have accepted your generosity. I hope I can make it up to you one of these days. 

Thomas Mieth talking to a technician during
the Napoli intermission.
Finally I promised to tell a bit about Mickey. He is the VP for production at the Kennedy Center, and a great guy to be around. He constantly spreads good vibes backstage, and that is always needed, especially when you are on tour.

I will let a video piece from YouTube describe Mickey, and you will know exactly what kind of guy he is. Follow this link and be entertained.

With the words of this weeks “Hooters Girl, I will pass the torch to the next in line. She said: It’s never too late to have a happy childhood”

Thomas Mieth
Stage Manager with The Royal Danish Ballet

PS. Of course I don’t own a gun!


  1. Det lader jo til, at du har styr på det hele, Thomas - og til med bloggen! - eller er det mon fordi, der er for lidt at lave, og I ligger "vandret" hele tiden? ;o) Erling
    Fortsat god tur!

  2. Glad to hear you got everything under control..

  3. Why am I not surpised that you of all people end up in an underground garage being offered strange things out of the trunk by a guy you have just met...on your very first visit to the country:-)

    Keep up the good work,

    Allan Glenn aka Thomas "The Vegan" Roger

  4. Well, have you tasted the Yuengling by now?


  5. That Yuengling is damn fine beer ;-)

    Bob Schmidt aka Thomas Mieth

  6. Your english is fabulous. Take care.