Despite what actors may say, there are few individuals more important in a theatre production than the stage manager. If you’ve ever seen a play, you have most likely felt the effects of this individual, yet you probably never saw them. Even during the curtain call, the stage manager probably didn’t make an appearance.
That’s because someone still needs to be backstage, making sure the right actors are taking their bows at the right time. And when just about everyone else has gone home, the stage manager is there, making sure everything is ready for the next day.
For some, this seems exhausting and unrewarding. But anyone who has been a stage manager knows that seeing the production come together after so much time and effort is worth it. Here are just some of the reasons the theatre would not function without stage managers:
In the Beginning…
Before a casting call ever goes out, the stage manager is working. They act as an assistant to the director, costume designer, set designer and every other department head. With the director, they plan out the space available, making sure they are utilizing it to its full potential. They are working with the props coordinator to make sure everything that is needed for the play is provided or accessible. Once the stage director has made sure the play can happen, they and the director host casting calls.
Depending on the director, the stage manager may have a lot of say in who gets casted in the production. Once casting is complete, the SM is making sure the stage and other aspects of the theatre are ready for rehearsals.
Time for Rehearsals!
When it comes to rehearsals, the SM’s main job is to make the director’s job easier. They are making sure each actor has the appropriate tools to perform, from props to cues and everything in between. They schedule the rehearsals and make sure each person in the production, including actors, technical, props and other departments, are present as needed.
On the more technical side, the stage manager makes sure nothing the director says goes unnoticed. If an actor is told to be stage left instead of stage right, it is noted. Purple lights instead of blue? In the book. The SM also keeps the master script, making sure all cues, both for actors and technical aspects, are carried out perfectly. This leaves the director to put the finishing touches on the play to make it unique.
The Show Must Go On
Once it’s time to perform the show, the stage manager truly shines. The director steps away and hands the reins over. If you are ever backstage during a play, you will probably spot a stern-looking person with an earpiece and a clipboard, pointing and making sure everything is going smoothly. The SM has devoted their entire life for the past few months to make sure this production runs smoothly; they will do all they can to accomplish that goal.
Because of all they do, the stage manager is often seen as the stage parent. They are stern, but will always take care of the needs of everyone else involved in the play. It is a stressful job, but a highly rewarding one. It is definitely for someone who loves being involved in theatre, but hates the spotlight, someone who is highly organized and enjoys the thrill of seeing the details of a master plan come to fruition. If this sounds like your child, consider enrolling them in our summer camps to get them involved!