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Student stage manager hops into senior year



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Deborah Alix, a senior majoring in theatre and drama, rests her fractured foot Aug. 28 on the steps outside the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. Her doctor believes she should be out of the boot by October.   David Brinson Buy Photos

Deborah “Deb” Alix will say she fractured her foot while on a run, but that’s only part of the story. The detail she might omit is she was actually doing “some light parkour” through campus when she jumped off a five-foot wall and landed less than graciously.

“Both of my ankles rolled underneath me,” Alix said, shaking her head at the crutches laying next to her. “Luckily, I didn’t break them, only fractured one of them and, well, sprained the other one. It’s made life kind of difficult, but I’ve got a lot of experience on those."

A senior in the IU Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance, Alix hobbled into her final year at IU. She has been busy during her time at the University. Along with playing Octavius Caesar in last year’s production of "Julius Caesar," she has also completed a writing residency in Massachusetts and interned at a stage-combat workshop in Minnesota. She has been involved with theater for almost all her life.

Alix is currently stage managing the upcoming independent play, “The Open House,” which will run for two shows on Sept. 28 and 29 at The Studio Theatre.

Stage managers juggle several duties at once. It is Alix's job to schedule and coordinate not only rehearsals, but also meetings and costume fittings. She attends every rehearsal and helps it run as smooth as possible for the director, whether that means guiding the stage crew, calling cues for actors or communicating the director's notes to the rest of the crew. A stage manager doesn't sit in the director's chair or perform on the stage, but they are certainly playing a part. 

A predominant actor during her time in theater, Alix sees stepping backstage as both a new experience and a learning opportunity. Just like with parkour, she has had to learn while on the run and not worry about falling on her face.

Alix grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana, and got serious about theater and drama during her freshman year of high school. She describes dreaming of the day she would be living in “a castle.” 

The castle she pictured was Collins Living-Learning Center. 

“I got to Bloomington and I thought, 'I have to go to school here,’” Alix said.

Alix said she, like many of the other drama students, practically lives in the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center. With both classes and rehearsals, they sometimes spend 15 hours a day in the building.

“We spend a lot of time in here, but we don’t mind," she said. "We just get really close."

Michelle Zink, a fellow senior, met Alix freshman year at an audition, when she was still going by her middle name, Abby. Sophomore Brynn Jones doesn’t recall how she met Alix, but remembers being amazed by her.

Both friends described an almost identical, separate story in which they were exhausted, having a terrible day, and on the verge of tears, when suddenly Alix walked up and enveloped them in a hug.

“Deb’s such a wonderful person, and she just always seems to be around,” Jones said. “I’m so happy I know her.”

Alix couldn’t decide if her favorite role she’s played was Elbow from Shakespeare’s "Measure for Measure" or Harriet Stanley, a crazy, axe-wielding, murderous aunt from "The Man Who Came to Dinner." When it came time to credit her role models and mentors, she didn’t hesitate. 

“Leraldo Anzaldua,"  Alix said. "He is our movement professor, and he introduced me to stage combat, and he’s been really influential to me."

Alix said Patrick Kelly, another person involved in stage combat, is also one of her mentors, along with English Professor Brando Skyhorse.

“I'd never done this before, really, but I'm glad I have now,” Alix said. "Being a stage manager gives you a chance to step back and observe how other people work. It kind of helps humanize everyone else in the room, which is helpful, as an actor, and as a person." 


CORRECTION:  A previous version of this story incorrectly named Deborah Alix’s character in "Julius Caesar." Alix played Octavius Caesar. The IDS regrets this error.

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