Getting The Job
Improving Your Craft
Enjoying Your Art
So you want to be a stage manager? Before you even start down the path of being the point person for any theatrical production ask yourself this question: what breed of dog describes you best? If the answer is Border Collie than get ready for an exciting, hard working and rewarding career in theatre. In essence the stage manager of any production, show or performance is the yapping canine that keeps everyone else in line. Constantly on alert, aware of every facet of the production from costumes, lighting and scripts and the go-to person for every question and problem a stage manager is literally the glue that holds a production together and if you don’t have the confidence to assert your control then maybe this demanding job isn’t for you.
First off a stage manager’s essential duty is to ensure that the director’s vision for a production is realized. Leave your ego at the door and accept that the director is the general and you are his lieutenant. If you want to be a director someday than working as a stage manager is a great “internship”, so to speak, and the more you soak up watching a director the better chance you’ll be ready when it’s your time to direct. In the meantime enjoy being the omnipotent overseer who gets to have a say in everything.
Next up get ready to sacrifice. Stage managers are expected to be the first one on the set and the last one to leave. Think of yourself as the manager of a company, the one who turns the lights on and off. When a production is underway you will be expected to be on call 24/7 and this will involve giving up a lot of free time and personal obligations so that you can really focus on the myriad of duties any performance requires.
Also understand that when you take on the responsibility of being a stage manager excuses are unacceptable. An actor can forget his lines, a costume designer can miss a stitch and even the director can take his sweet time arriving but you have been given the task of making sure very detail is covered and the pressure can be intense. It takes a very strong-willed and organized person to be an effective stage manager so take stock of your strengths and weaknesses before delving into this demanding position.
But remember, although you have the lion’s share of responsibility you are still in a supporting role to the director, cast and crew. If this is going to bother you then consider another career. Successful
are people who don’t need the accolades and limelight, just the satisfaction in knowing the show went off without a hitch because they did their job effectively.
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