Western Stage Manager

David S. Cohen

Portland, OR

Stage Managers, Western Developing Theatre, EEO, LORT, New Media and Technology, Entry to Equity


After ten years in New York theatre, I moved to Portland in 2016. While working mainly in corporate theatre, I’ve continued to be an active Equity member in my liaison area and on committees—meeting and working with many stage managers and actors in and around Portland. In 2019, I got the opportunity to represent Portland at the Liaison Conference in Minneapolis. Last year, I returned to Equity theatre full-time, joining the national tour of the Donna Summer Musical. I was in Toronto when theatres shut down. 

Having spent time on both coasts and in many cities in between, I’ve had the privilege to meet members from all over. Listening to you, hearing how Equity works for you and your colleagues has been a guiding light for my work in the union. Whether it’s the upcoming touring negotiations, or the playwriting festival here in Portland, I am committed to building a better union for all of us. 

I’ve been honored to serve on committees since 2014, and have been inspired by the aggressive push for Equity’s Judge It by the Budget policy and increased inclusivity. With times as uncertain as these, we need to maintain our progressive momentum and advocacy for fairness so artists and theatres can recover together from this crisis.

From local theatres across the country to Broadway, it’s the workers who bring it all together. It would be my great honor to further serve you as a new Equity councilor.

Personal Statement

I was born in South Florida where I got to have my first experiences with theatre. I went to High school in Atlanta, GA where I worked on my first few real jobs and found my theatrical home at Georgia Shakespeare, a theatre which sadly fell victim to the downturn in arts funding. After college, I lived in NYC for 10 years before moving to Portland, OR in 2016. 

I have a wonderful husband of seven years, a dog and two cats.

My Equity Card: I got my card as a Broadway sub SM on The Mystery of Edwin Drood in 2012.

How/Why is Equity and this work important to you?

For me, like so many others, it is about giving back to an organization which touched my life long before I ever joined.  The work AEA and other labor unions do improve society as a whole and raises the working condition of union and non-union laborers alike. Working on committees I have seen first-hand the aggressive new push for ASMs on every contract, Judge it by the Budget, and more fair representation for all members.  With the world we find ourselves in today, I want to do my part to make sure this momentum keeps its pace and the new world we create has a fair place for all of us.  

Is there anything else do you do in the world (volunteerism, side hustle, civic work) that informs your worldview and the experience you will bring to the Council room?

Having spent a few years working at a marketing agency on large scale events, I have learned to look at any given situation from as many angles as possible while considering the all the possible cascading consequences. At top 10 companies, they do not give you much room for failure, and with very short timelines you have to work with your team to perfect your plan before putting it into action.  I believe this approach has guided me well in my votes in committees and I’m sure it will provide a sure foundation for the work on council.   

What is a Fun Fact® or something most people don’t know about you?
I like to cross-stitch dirty words and phrases onto throw pillows. 

Where/What is your happy place?
A bed full of pillows with a down comforter and a book.

What is your Superpower, or what do you wish your Superpower could be?
My superpower is the ability to accurately determine exactly how long mundane tasks will take to accomplish. How long will it take to walk to the store for Milk? 7 mins… 9 if the store clerk is chatty today. 

What was your first ever stage production?
I remember Disney on Ice when I was very young. I was chosen to ride in a boat during the performance with a bunch of other kids and I. Was. Terrified. Just Terrified. And that is what I remember from my very first live production.