Stage Manager  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dot"The show must go on!" the director shouts. Stage managers are the people who make sure it does. They aren't involved in making creative decisions. But they basically run the show, making sure the play is organized, rehearsed and ready for the stage on opening night.

Stage managers organize auditions, call all rehearsals and maintain a prompt book. They prompt all actors (that is, locate and direct them when it's their cue to step on stage) during rehearsals and performances.

"A stage manager facilitates a smooth-running production and is the sole person who maintains the artistic integrity of the production," says Omar Kamal. He is a stage manager in Kentucky.

dotStage managers keep records to inform the producer about an actor's attendance, hours, welfare benefits or whether overtime pay may be needed. Stage managers also deal with discipline problems. They make sure that the props are available and are brought in on cue. They may help with blocking.

In short, stage managers do whatever is necessary to make the rehearsals and the entire run of a play go smoothly. This may mean anything from getting a director a cup of coffee to administering first aid to an actor.

dotStage managers work in theaters of all sizes. Some may work part time or on contract at a local community theater. Others may work at a prestigious Broadway theater in New York.

Most work in the performing arts requires work during the evenings and holidays. It is no different for stage managers. They have to be available during rehearsals and at all of the performances. Hours can be long.

"We often work late nights or long hours," says Carissa Dollar. She is a stage manager in Indiana. "Because what we do in the arts is what everyone else does for enjoyment, we work nearly every weekend and many holidays."

dotStage management isn't a tough physical job. But it does require agility. You need to be able to move quickly and quietly around backstage and run errands. You should have some first aid and CPR training.

At a Glance

Make sure all the pieces are in place for a smooth production

  • Some may work part time or on contract
  • Be prepared to work evenings, weekends and holidays
  • Theater training is good -- experience is even better