Nancy Stone-Archer, R.E.M. Lee Theatre’s Coordinator, shares a light moment from the tech booth. (Binny Paul/Terrace Standard)

Nancy Stone-Archer, R.E.M. Lee Theatre’s Coordinator, shares a light moment from the tech booth. (Binny Paul/Terrace Standard)

Skeena Voices | ‘The journey to create magic, has been magic’

Nancy Stone Archer on running the R.E.M.Lee Theatre for over a decade

“I’ve done my job super well if nobody notices me,” said Nancy Stone Archer, R.E.M. Lee Theatre’s Coordinator.

In her 700-seat kingdom on Straume Ave., the 55-year-old Stone Archer has been running the show silently in the background since 2012.

“If the only people who are aware of me are the organizers of the event, then, the event is a huge success and I’ve done my job,” she says, explaining her job in the simplest terms.

“If they leave complaining about the sound, that they couldn’t hear properly or the sound quality was bad, or if the lights were bad and they couldn’t see properly, or the building was cold and unwelcoming, then, I haven’t done my job.”

She likes to simplify her job, almost meme-like, by saying, “I open the door and turn on the lights.”

However Stone Archer’s job is a bit more technical than that – she ensures that each event at the R.E.M. Lee theatre has the best quality sound, lights and tech-support.

At any given point, a conversation with Stone Archer is all about her leading the clients to the best possible solution. No matter how complex the problem, Stone Archer says she does not like to tell people ‘No, it can’t be done,’ because it’s all about helping the other person’s dream happen, mostly because it’s theatre, and that’s where all the magic happens all the time.

“Every artist comes in here with a dream or an idea or plan for what they want to achieve. And usually it’s more concrete than they actually realize their plan is. So my job has become helping them verbalize that, so that then we can work as a team to get to a place where they are happy with the evolution of their dream to present it to people,” said Stone Archer.

Stone Archer moved to Terrace in 1995 with her husband and after years of volunteering at the Terrace Little Theatre, she came upon her job at the R. E. M. Lee by a happy accident when she began as a technician for seven hours a week. While she did have some background education in theatre, photography and other creative arts as such, most of her learning took place on the job and under the tutelage of former general manger Karla Henning.

Stone Archer took over from Henning after she retired in 2012.

“I have often said that I went to an audition for the Terrace Little Theatre in 1995 and then I kind of didn’t go back home,” she said cheekily. “I hung lights, I stage managed, I acted, I worked on productions, and I served on the executive – that is the experience that I brought to the R.E.M. Lee largely.”

She feels extremely grateful that with her background she ended up in this position and the entire journey to “create magic, has been magic.”

For over a decade now, Stone Archer has worked with various artists, musicians and performing groups as a facilitator and assisted them in putting on good shows. The theatre has hosted plays, high school musicals, the Northwest Pacific Music Festival, memorials and more.

One of the privileges of her job, she says, is watching students’ journey in theatre.

With the theatre itself being a Coast Mountain School District building, Stone Archer has seen a lot of students take their first frightful step on to the stage, to them coming full circle in Grade 12 as confident and energetic performers.

“It’s a gift, it really is a gift to be able to watch those kind of journeys happen around you all the time,” she says.

She quotes Stuart McLean, who says in one of his books that there’s a whole range of people out there that parents don’t know that their children know who help them in their journeys.

“And I’m one of those people, because when I’m backstage, talking to a little dancer who’s terrified of going on stage, her mom is just sitting in the audience waiting for her to come out. She doesn’t know that there’s a whole range of adults back there supporting and helping her child achieve. And I think that that’s a privilege and a gift to be able to be a part of some of these small moments of success all the way through.”