3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Stage Management

1. You are the captain of the ship. Being a stage manager is so much more than just calling cues. You need to act like a captain by being a trusted and respected leader, guide, and mentor but also pay it forward and trust and respect your team members. This includes your directors, production team, fellow stage managers, and, perhaps most importantly, the cast. At the end of the day, the cast needs to trust and respect you. If you establish that early on, they will commit to anything you ask them to do to serve the show.

2. The stage manager maintains the artistic integrity of the show. Just because you are a stage manager doesn’t mean you simply manage things! You need to think like a director, like a designer, like a crew member to ensure all of the cogs of the machine work and that the artistic vision of the production team is upheld. Once opening night rolls around, the stage manager runs the show and runs the ship! This goes with ensuring proper actor notes are given to ensure the director’s intentions are upheld and that all design elements are cohesive and complete (or fixed if a prop or costume piece breaks mid-performance!).

3. A stage manager doesn’t need to be the bad guy! My first experience with a stage manager was in high school, working as a light board operator Freshman year. The stage manager was incredibly effective at her job, but I always felt it was because the cast and crew feared her, which in my mind meant that a stage manager had to be mean and scary. At the time, I never wanted to be a stage manager because I knew I could ever scare people to do something for me. But that is not true! Surprise, surprise, you can still be an effective leader and communicator by being kind and open-minded while still being the responsible, firm, and steadfast figure that the team looks to for answers and guidance. A stage manager needs to be tough and firm when necessary but needs to also understand the give and take and ensure there is enough compassion, genuine kindness, and above all, fun in the rehearsal room. 

By: Aaron Alonso (Reprinted with permission from Flipping The Script)

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