When people think of stage managers in theatre, they usually think of someone who “manages the stage,” but stage managers do so much more. I know many stage managers and it seems like their list of tasks never ends. So let me give you a little insight into what a stage manager really does.
Before I do, let me tell you who I am. My name is Maranda and I am currently an intern here at the Playhouse. I am 20 years old and have been involved in theatre in someway since I was in 5th grade. I love working here and love being involved with theatre activities. The reason I am posting about Stage Managers today is because I was an Assistant Stage Manager my 2nd semester of college last year, and I saw everything the stage manager did and envied her so much, so I thought I’d share what being a Stage Manager is all about.
Stage managers typically support the director, whether that support be practical support, organizational support, or, in some cases, emotional support. They also provide organizational support to tech, actors, designers, and stage crew during the production. They are also the representation of the director during performances to make sure the production runs smoothly.
During rehearsals, the stage manager and director work very closely together. The stage manager makes notes for blocking, notes for the tech team, and the actors.
The stage manager has many tasks during the production of a show including:
-Scheduling and running rehearsals
-Communicating the director’s wishes to the technical and design teams
-Coordinating work of stage crew
-Calling cues for actors’ entrances during performance
-Overseeing the show each time it is performed
With the director, the stage manager determines the schedule for rehearsals and making sure everyone involved is aware of times, important dates, meetings, fitting sessions, etc. They also:
-Mark out the dimensions of the set on the rehearsal floor
-Make sure props are set, and furnishings are available for the actors
-Attend every rehearsal
-Notify everyone involved with changes to the rehearsal schedule
During rehearsals, the stage manager marks all the blocking, light cues, sound cues, and set changes in a master copy known as the prompt book. That book also allows stage managers to call the cues during technical performances and time the show accordingly.
They also show routes to the crew and actors for set changes to make them run smoothly during a performance. Furniture and prop plans for more complicated sets are drawn out by the stage manager and and technical designer to show where each prop or furniture is placed on the stage. This also helps make set changes a lot less complicated during performance.
Once the show opens, the director’s work is essentially finished. Now it’s time for the stage manager to make sure the run of the performance goes well and just how the director wanted it from opening night through the run of the show.
There you have it! If there is anything you should take away from my little educational session, it should be that stage managers do so much more than it appears. If you’re a part of theatre, or even not a part of theatre, remember to thank the stage manager for all of their hard work because the show wouldn’t go on without them.