Stage Manager

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Plans, organises, supervises and coordinates the activities of workers responsible for placing sets and properties, and operating lighting and sound equipment as part of film, television or stage Future Growth Strong productions.

Being a Stage Manager is essentially a "people management" job. A stage manager must have the temperament and ability to get along with people in both the artistic and technical sides of theatre, and to understand what they do. It is part of the attraction of the work that each new job will introduce new and different challenges.

Stage managers should be good planners and organisers, with a knack for multi-tasking, prioritising and keeping calm under pressure and in a crisis.

Stage managers in opera or musical theatre productions coordinate all the activities on stage and all the technical operations (lighting, sound, etc), and liaise with the various departments (costumes, props, etc) to ensure the smooth running of the performance. Stage managers also facilitate any changes to the production ordered by the director. What distinguishes the role of stage manager of a music theatre production from that of a non-music theatre production is that the cues of the show are called with reference to the music score.

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Cartoon of Characteristics of Stage Manager
(Source: pinimg)

Knowledge, skills and attributes

  •  Practical and organised

  •  Artistic flair

  •  Authority and tact

  •  Able to work under pressure

  •  Able to work as part of a team 

Stage managers need good people skills, because they need to work with a range of performers — singers, conductors, orchestral musicians, dancers, and actors including children — plus the director. They need to study the show and have a good understanding of its construction and flow. Although a detailed technical knowledge of sound and lighting systems is not necessary, it is certainly useful to have some knowledge of these areas and to be able to convey technical directions from the director and designer to the crew.

Stage managers of opera and musical theatre need to be able to read a score, and they need to understand the culture of opera and musical theatre. A knowledge of the repertoire and of opera etiquette is also expected.

Stage management in opera and musical theatre is a specialised job. Not many positions are available nationally, so the field is very competitive. It is usual for stage managers to do unpaid work before they get paid positions. Jobs that lead to the position of stage manager include assistant stage manager and deputy stage manager.

In some smaller companies, stage managers are contracted for the rehearsal period and performances of various productions rather than employed fulltime. There are some full-time positions in large organisations such as Opera Australia. Stage managers who wish to advance their careers typically move from smaller companies to larger companies.

Experienced stage managers may move into production managing, which involves administration, planning and budgeting.

Courses in stage management are available in training institutions that specialise in drama and theatre. A stage manager for opera and music theatre also needs training in music theory in order to be able to read a score.  

Stage Manager at work
(Source: Michigan University)

Duties and Tasks

  • studying scripts and scenarios to determine theme and setting

  • assessing locations and staging requirements for productions in association with specialist designers

  • overseeing creative aspects of film, television, radio and stage productions

  • determining lighting, film, shutter angles, filter factors, camera distance, depth of field and focus, angles of view and other variables to achieve desired mood and effect

  • viewing film and video tape to evaluate and select scenes and determine which scenes need to be re-shot

  • planning and organising the preparation and presentation of programs

  • supervising the positioning of scenery, props and lighting and sound equipment

  • assessing technical requirements of productions by studying scripts and discussing program content, set locations and stage directions with production team

  • creating, planning, writing scripts for, recording, videotaping and editing programs (Source: Visabureau)

 

Working conditions

However many famous people stage managers might work with, the work itself is not glamorous, often involving long hours and fairly boring, repetitive tasks as well as being physically demanding.

During the rehearsal period, the stage management team (often composed of 3 - a stage manager, a deputy stage manager and an assistant stage manager) acts as the lynchpin between the artistic process developing in the rehearsal room and the people physically building, sewing, assembling and making the production outside of that rehearsal room. Stage management are there to prevent ANYTHING from adversely affecting the production. Attention to detail and good communication skills are essential here.

The stage manager or team sit at the heart of the production and be the first port of call for anything concerning the show for all those involved in creating and running it.

Once the show has opened, the stage management is responsible for the management of each evening's performance. They ensure that the production continues to run with all aspects of it kept as directed and designed. The DSM (Deputy Stage Manager) will also generally cue the show, giving calls and 'go's to the actors and all departments, enabling the changing of scenery, lighting and sound to be co-ordinated. The ASM will frequently be 'running the wings', i.e. running other backstage aspects, particularly props.

In a smaller scale theatre or on tour, the stage management may also be required to 'roadie'; that is to drive, load and unload trucks, put up the set and design and operate both sound and lighting.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a stage manager you usually need to complete a VET qualification. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have a degree in stage management, theatre, drama, technical production or performance, in addition to extensive industry experience. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education with English. Applicants may be required to attend an interview, audition or workshop. Institutions have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study.

 


Did You Know?

NIDA

 

NIDA’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (Technical Theatre and Stage Management) is an immersive, practice-based course which equips students with the specialised skills they require for a successful career in this field.

The course focuses on innovative and effective ways to manage and integrate technical fields within live performance and event environments.

Students gain a broad range of experience and knowledge to prepare them for roles that require creative, technical and managerial expertise across multiple disciplines. Topics covered include stage management, lighting, audio, technical drawing and video for live performance. All students receive practical experience as stage managers, technical managers, technical designers and crew.

In their final year, students undertake at least 10 weeks of industry placements, where they gain essential real-world experience and have the opportunity to create contacts and networks in the performing arts industry.

This course produces graduates who are industry-ready and highly employable.

This comprehensive technical production course equips students to pursue careers in a range of technical fields within the arts and entertainment industries, including theatre, opera, dance, events and film and television.
(Source: NIDA)

 

Stage Manager

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Actor

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Entertainer

theatrical costume maker and designer

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Set Designer

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Horse Riding Instructor

Cinema or Theatre Manager

Prop & Scenery Maker

Outdoor Adventure Guide

Tennis Coach

Artist

Aerobics Instructor

Dancer

Fitness Instructor

Sports Coach

Karate Instructor

Fisher

Sportsperson

Musician

Umpire/Referee

Composer

Jockey

Actor

Choreographer

Music Director

Stunt Performer

Entertainer

theatrical costume maker and designer

Diver

Set Designer

Sports Development Officer

Horse Riding Instructor

Stage Manager

Cinema or Theatre Manager

Prop & Scenery Maker

Outdoor Adventure Guide

Tennis Coach

Artist

Aerobics Instructor

Dancer

Fitness Instructor

Sports Coach

Karate Instructor

Fisher

Sportsperson

Musician

Umpire/Referee

Composer

Jockey

Actor

Choreographer

Music Director

Stunt Performer

Entertainer

theatrical costume maker and designer

Diver

Set Designer

Sports Development Officer

Horse Riding Instructor

Stage Manager

Cinema or Theatre Manager

Prop & Scenery Maker

Outdoor Adventure Guide

Tennis Coach

Artist

Aerobics Instructor

Dancer

Fitness Instructor

Sports Coach

Karate Instructor

Fisher

Sportsperson

Musician

Umpire/Referee

Composer

Jockey

Actor

Choreographer

Music Director

Stunt Performer

Entertainer

theatrical costume maker and designer

Diver

Set Designer

Sports Development Officer

Horse Riding Instructor

Stage Manager

Cinema or Theatre Manager

Prop & Scenery Maker

Outdoor Adventure Guide

Tennis Coach

Artist

Aerobics Instructor

Dancer

Fitness Instructor

Sports Coach

Karate Instructor

Fisher

Sportsperson

Musician

Umpire/Referee

Composer

Jockey

Actor

Choreographer

Music Director

Stunt Performer

Entertainer

theatrical costume maker and designer

Diver

Set Designer

Sports Development Officer

Horse Riding Instructor

Stage Manager

Cinema or Theatre Manager

Prop & Scenery Maker

Outdoor Adventure Guide

Tennis Coach