MEET STEPH

Steph Waaser
Owner & Founder
Photo by T. Charles Erickson

The Basics:

Hi! Thanks for being here! First of all, know that behind that professional headshot is a hooligan who sent this photo to Mom for a Valentine's Day card for Dad:

I was in tech as the Props Supervisor for a show, stuck in a dark theatre like-ya-do. I thought it was a fun candid (and you have to have a little fun at work, right?). Alas, Mom wanted something more traditionally posed. Oh well!

I've spent over a decade as a professional in the live entertainment industry. I started dabbling in theatre as a do-it-all stage manager in high school, then worked on college productions and regional conferences while majoring in biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. See, I didn't know technical theatre was a REAL job yet. I come from a family of STEM folks – my dad was trained as a nuclear engineer and my mom was an accountant. My twin brother is a computer security professional. So I was going to be a wildlife biologist, until I realized that people actually do this for a living!

 

So I got my first paid theatre job working in the scene shop at PlayMakers Repertory Company doing carpentry, rigging, and welding. I did summerstock theatre between 10-month contracts at PlayMakers, working my way up to Shop Supervisor over a couple of years. Eventually I landed a job as Assistant Technical Director at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival the summer before heading to grad school at Yale School of Drama (YSD). YSD training included production roles as Props Supervisor, Master Electrician, Assistant Technical Director, run crew, and Technical Director for two Yale Repertory Theatre productions, Assassins and Field Guide (in collaboration with the Rude Mechanicals). I also spent time at Williamstown Theatre Festival and Hudson Scenic Studio.

 

I landed at Oregon Shakespeare Festival as an Associate Technical Director in 2018, bought a house in the area, adopted a dog, worked on a USITT Innovation Research Grant project, and attended the 2019 USITT Conference & Stage Expo.

 

And then, in 2020, COVID hit.

Becoming Steady Hand Editorial Services LLC:

So what's a body like me to do when their entire industry shuts down?

I chose to take the opportunity to fill a need that I saw in the live entertainment industry. Too often, technical writing and documentation is an afterthought. It's a rushed task after CAD designs are done, or a hot potato tossed from person to person depending on the project, or it's not prioritized as its own department until a company has the revenue to grow to 100+ employees (and sometimes even then, it still doesn't get dedicated attention).

And folks in the live entertainment industry generally aren't trained as writers. Our work and education focuses on technical design, budgeting, construction methods, management, collaboration – but not technical writing.

So, as someone who actually likes writing, and who likes helping other people look good in their work, I thought, "let's make solid, clear, ANSI-compliant documentation something that every company can have, no matter how big or small, no matter whether or not they happen to have 'good writers' on their staff." And that's what I do these days with Steady Hand.

I also like to create resources for folks in my spare time, including Excel-based tools, COVID resources, and job-seeking tips. You can check those out here.

Fun Facts:

You made it this far! Here's some fun lil' tidbits for you:

About my dog:

  • His name is Puck.

  • He's a Border Collie / Lab / pit / god-knows-what-else mix I adopted from the animal shelter.

  • Of course I will share puppy pics:

Hobbies:

  • Reading (true adventure, a variety of fiction, memoirs, management and social science nonfiction)

  • Netflix

  • Hiking and agility with Puck

  • I also have a sourdough starter thanks to COVID. I get most of my recipes from King Arthur Flour or friends.

  • COVID also turned me into a PC gamer. I play somewhat older games, mostly puzzle-based or first-person shooter, and play online regularly with friends.

Go-to material for "Two Truths and a Lie" (all true!):

  • I'm a published scientific author (Ecology journal, October 2011).

  • I was lead guitarist for a wizard rock band for a brief stint (just Google it).

  • I trained horses and taught horseback riding for a few years and at a summer camp.

  • And I was a multi-state Judo champion in my younger days (and "Judo chop!" is a pet peeve; IT'S NOT A REAL THING!).

Vol

Volunteer Work:

  • I serve as the Secretary of the Board of Directors for Southern Oregon Shakes (SOS) SafetyNet, a new nonprofit that is providing financial assistance to Oregon Shakespeare Festival community members experiencing financial hardship due to COVID, wildfire, or other life events.

Education:

  • BS, Biology & Dramatic Art, UNC-Chapel Hill

  • MFA, Technical Design and Production, Yale School of Drama

 

Memberships:

  • United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT)

  • Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA)

  • American Copy Editors Society (ACES)

  • Northwest Editors Guild

 

Certificates & Certifications:

  • ETCP Rigger, Arena & Theatre (#2913)

  • OSHA-30

  • Certificate in Editing, Poynter News University & ACES

  • Currently eyeballing a certification from the Society of Technical Communication. I'll keep you posted.

Awards:

  • 2019 USITT Tech Expo winner (my corresponding write-up was published in the journal Theatre Design & Technology [TD&T] that summer)

  • 2019 USITT Innovation Research Grant recipient

  • 2018 USITT Bernhard R. Works, Frederick A. Buerki Scenic Technology Award (aka the "Golden Hammer")

  • 2018 YSD Edward C. Cole Memorial Award in Technical Design & Production

  • 2018 YSD Bronislaw (Ben) Sammler Award

And you can check out my fabrication and tech design work at www.stephwaaser.com.

Puck and I running an agility course.

Photo [cropped] by Mary Fish Arango.

The shelter mug shot I fell in love with.

Photo by Nancy West Photography.

Sound like someone you could enjoy working with? Send me a message!

© 2020 by Steady Hand Editorial Services LLC.