When I first began directing over thirty years ago my team was made up of me…yep, just me. (I’ll bet some of you have been in that position!) My best friend, Sue, got talked into turning the lights on and off and I convinced a parent of one of the students to help make a few costumes. In my wildest dreams I never could imagine that I would be lucky enough to have the resources to have a stage manager!
In fact, at first, I simply had done things by myself for such a long time that I didn’t know what to do with a stage manager! Then, they became indispensable to me. I literally don’t know what I would do without one!
But what does a stage manager actually do?
A better question might be, “What don’t they do?”
Stage managers are in control of anything that happens from the front of the stage and back. They represent the director to make sure the production runs smoothly. They are liaisons between the director, actors, stage crew and technical team. They give support to the actors and anticipate their needs during performances.
( Kate Hart-stage manager of Noah!)
The stage manager and director often work together during rehearsals. The stage manager records blocking and notes for the actors and communicates what is decided during rehearsals to the rest of the team.
The stage managers responsibilities might include:
1) scheduling and running rehearsals
2) communicating the director’s wishes to designers and crafts people
3) coordinating the work of the stage crew
4) calling cues and possibly actors’ entrances during performance
5) overseeing the entire show each time it is performed
6) notifing cast and crew of rehearsal times. 7) Scheduling costume and wig fittings.
In the beginning stage managers can aid the rehearsal process by mapping out the set dimensions on the floor. They also provide props and furniture as soon as possible.
It is important for stage managers to attend as many rehearsals as possible. It becomes their duty to record all blocking, light and sound changes in a master copy of the script. This book is called a prompt book. This book becomes very important in technical rehearsals. If you are fortunate enough to be able to have a stage manager that calls cues, this prompt book will have all the information the stage manager needs to run the technical rehearsal. (Thus freeing up even more of the director’s time.)
I haven’t been able to “give up” any of my shows, but in professional theater the director’s job is over when a show opens. At this point the stage manager becomes responsible to carry out the the vision of the production until the production closes.
Each stage manager has different aspects they love and different aspects that are their strengths. Join me for this episode From the Wings.
There is something incredibly magical about a stage manager and their connection to the cast and director.
I would be lost without one.
Have you ever tried stage management? Do you have a memory of how a stage manager helped you through a show? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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Until next time!
P.S. A special thanks to my FROM THE WINGS team of Rebecca Leland and Brianna Valentine. You guys are so talented!
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