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Stage Managers are the link between the cast and the crew. They are the ones that collaborate and ensure everything runs smoothly for a production. In short, they are essential. I am going to tell you what exactly they do, what skills you need if you think that this is the right career path for you and of course what is the salary for this sort of role. Remember it certainly is a varied role and a lot of fun.
A role of a stage manager in theatre is the person who is in charge of all the aspects of the production, in terms of the technical duties, liaising with the director and actors, and the rest of the crew to organize the production. They oversee every backstage and on-stage duty across the show.
This can range from unloading kit for the show, organizing the set design on stage, ensuring the props are ready and also in terms of timings on the day, everything happens like clockwork.
A production manager in theatre will be the first port of call for any production issues, including if an actor cannot attend a rehearsal or a show. Costume fittings, hair and make-up and program proofing will be in the hands of the stage director.
The stage manager will have the knowledge of the technical equipment that is being used for the show and it depends on the scale of the show, but there may be an assistant stage manager on hand as well.
Stage managers will be in charge of the budget for props and scenery. They can be in charge of the audition process as well, in terms of coordinating the scripts, and assisting the director in recalls. An actor’s availability and attendance at rehearsals is kept by the stage manager. You will liaise with the theatre managers / artistic directors and the front-of-house-staff. You need to be over all aspects of the theatre at all times.
This may not be the case with all stage managers, however there are times when a production is going on tour and they will coordinate the locations of each performance and revenue generated by each venue. For each production, they will take along with them a ‘stage management kit’, which includes; first aid, stage supplies, a sewing kit and tools. You definitely need to be a leader and calm under pressure for this particular job as it is you that will have to resolve any issues that arise during any show.
It is going to be your role to oversee all the aspects of rehearsals and each and every show. You will liaise with the director about the blocking, stage directions, lighting, cues, costume and sound directions. At this time, once again you may have a stage assistant helping you.
Working closely with the director, set designers, and building contractors – if that is relevant – you will oversee the stage design in terms of the specifications for the production plan. It will also be your role to install and take down any scenery and technical/ lighting equipment at the start and end of the productions. This is what is known in the theatre industry as the ‘Get In’ and ‘Get Out’ parts of the process.
You may have always wondered who calls the show in the theatre? This is the duty of the stage manager and they will in addition give actors, stagehands, lighting and sound team their cues. They need to make sure that all props, costumes are in place and the actors are in place before the show goes up. Stage managers take charge of the stage wings, the dressing rooms and prop spaces before a show. It all depends on the scale of the show, as a smaller production, the whole of the cast will do all of these roles themselves.
You can make anything from £18,000 at the start of your career, all the way up to £48,000 per year if you are an established stage manager. This will all be dependent on the scale of a production, experience and maybe even the location of the show.
So now we have covered all the basics of how to be a stage manager, what are you waiting for? You may start out running your own production or work with a larger west end theatre who knows. As long as you are proactive, a leader, a great communicator, organized and of course, most importantly have a passion for theatre, you can’t go wrong. Good luck and curtain up!
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