Merrimack College Theater Student Recognized for Stage Management Work

Lilia Hessasta ’25, who will serve as assistant stage manager for Merrimack College's upcoming production of “The Drowsy Chaperone," was awarded Outstanding Stage Management Intern at this year’s Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.
Headshot of Lilia Hessasta ‘25.
After graduation, Lilia Hessasta ‘25 hopes to bring her talents as a stage manager to professional theater productions.

When Lilia Hessasta ’25 applied to intern at this past winter’s Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) in Connecticut, she didn’t expect to bring any accolades home.

However, after one of the one-act plays she stage managed, “Kimia Zamen and the Whisperer of the Mountain,” won its festival competition, Hessasta was surprised when she was named Outstanding Stage Management Intern.

“I didn’t realize there was a prize for that,” she said. “It’s nice to get something for Merrimack too because there are certain schools that just sweep every category.”

In addition to her internship, Hessasta attended the KCACTF alongside other Merrimack students who were invited to perform the Department of Visual and Performing Arts production of “A Wrinkle in Time.” Unfortunately, the production was too big to bring to the festival so the students instead performed “Shakespeare Abridged.”

“Wrinkle” was Hessasta’s first time as a stage manager for a Merrimack production. She was previously the assistant stage manager for the Onstagers’ “The Addams Family” and the VPA’s “The Wolves.”

“I’ve (been a stage manager) a couple of times in high school but it’s never been to this scale,” she said. “There are some things that I had to learn because I’m not getting things delegated to me – I’m the one that’s delegating.”

Hessasta said “Wrinkle” went flawlessly.

“I hadn’t read the show before,” she said. “Going into a new show was really fun. Everyone we hired was super nice. They’re all really great at their job so that makes everything so much easier.”

After graduation, Hessasta, a theater major with a minor in education, hopes to take her talents professionally.

“My main thing is I want to work in actual theater but I also like to work in schools,” she said. “I really liked doing theater in high school – that’s what brought me here – so I’d like to be able to do both. I really like how everything is set up (at Merrimack).”

For now, she’s working as the assistant stage manager and assistant production manager for the Onstagers’ upcoming production, “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

“I really like the added challenge of having two roles,” she said. “We’ve been working hard with the dance coaches because this is the first time Merrimack has done a dance-heavy show in a very long time.”

Showtimes for “The Drowsy Chaperone” are Thursday, April 18, at 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m., and two shows on Saturday, April 20, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Rogers Center for Performing Arts. Tickets are available here.

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