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Theatre stage manager: Job description

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Theatre stage managers coordinate all aspects of a theatre company to ensure the successful delivery of the performance. In order to do this, they must have excellent people management skills.

They manage rehearsals, actors, technicians, props and costume fittings, and liaise with front of house staff and the director.

A stage manager needs to have a good understanding of both the technical and artistic elements of a performance so that they can ensure it is delivered exactly to the director's requirements.

They will be involved from the rehearsal stage through to the live performances, where they will be on hand to deal with any emergencies or issues that may hinder the show.

Larger productions will typically have a stage manager supported by a deputy stage manager and one or two assistant stage managers. However, small shows may just have the stage manager working on their own.

Typical work activities

Roles vary depending on the size and type of organisation, but the tasks stage managers will typically be expected to carry out include:

  • setting up and running rehearsal schedules;
  • procuring all props, furniture and set dressings, and in small companies, assisting in set construction;
  • arranging costume and wig fittings;
  • distributing information to other theatre departments;
  • managing the props and possibly the design budgets and liaising with the production manager regarding costs;
  • supervising the 'get in' to the theatre, when the set, lighting and sound are installed, and the 'get out', when all the equipment is removed;
  • compiling and operating prompt copy - also known as the 'prompt script' or 'the book', which notes actors' moves and cues, and the requirements for props, lighting and sound;
  • making alterations to the set between scene changes, prompting actors and cueing technicians;
  • ensuring the company's welfare and maintaining a good working knowledge of all relevant health and safety legislation and good working practice;
  • running the backstage and onstage areas during performances;
  • liaising with the director, stage personnel and other technical departments, e.g. costume, lighting, sound;
  • calling actors for rehearsals and performances;
  • during a long run, maintaining and replacing props and costumes as required;
  • liaising with resident staff at other performance venues (if touring).
Written by AGCAS editors
February 2015

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