A stage manager is an individual responsible for the organization of actors and other technical arrangements needed for the smooth recording of theatrical production. Stage management is a demanding work that involves strict adherence of theatrical needs based on the directions given by the director of the theatre. Any activity in stage management requires the expertise of a stage manager if the events taking place are to be executed correctly and professionally.
Why Are Stage Managers Important in Theatre Production?
In theatre production, a stage manager is a crucial player of the team if any activity that the director instructions are to be done accordingly. A stage manager acts as the assistant to the director making sure that all the actors are present for the activity as well as coordinating with other members of the technical team to ensure the theatre is fully utilized for the production. What makes them a crucial part of their production is the fact that they make it easy for the director to comfortably facilitate the production without having to worry about issues such as poor lighting and actors not showing up. Also, by organizing regular rehearsals with the important players such as the actors and the technical team they provide the director time to identify areas of improvement and refining of the play that is being produced. Stage managers are very vital in a theatre production in that they organize and facilitate many activities to ensure rehearsals go on well and the performances are excellently done through communicating and creating an environment that incorporates many people involved in the production. Lastly, the stage managers play the role of the director's representative especially during a performance by ensuring the production is done without any hitches.
History of Stage Managers
Historically stage managers were marginalized and little was known about them up to the 18th century when the idea of choosing a stage manager was began. Perhaps this explains why there is little historical work that talks about the role of stage managers because they probably existed but got sidelined by ancient historians. In the 17th-century stage, management was done mainly by the actors and the playwright who coordinated things like rehearsals as the issue of stage management duties not appearing in historical work is also down to the fact that it was not taken seriously at that period. The first person identified as stage manager was Sophocles who served as a stage technician, playwriting producer as well as a musician (Carmody).
In the renaissance period, however, the theatre under Elizabethan and Jacobean stage management was divided into parts handled by the stage keeper and the bookkeeper. The purpose of a stage keeper in this period was to ensure that the theatre for production is adequately maintained and the preparations inside and outside of the stage are conducted as well it is kept secure. On the other hand, the book keeper's role was to provide a line for performers, stage script, addressing sound effects and getting the necessary licenses to conduct theatre production.
Roles of a Stage Manager
In theatre production regardless of what it entails the role of a stage manager is a crucial one. Being an assistant to the director the stage manager serves an essential function of taking charge of the production especially when the director is away. The duties of a stage manager, however, vary based on the type of production taking place. However, one of the significant roles of a stage manager is stage preparation. The stage manager ensures that the floor of the rehearsal room is well set and the design fits the description provided by the director ("Stage Manager Duties").
Rehearsal Room preparation: In preparing the room, the stage manager arrives early at the rehearsal room to make sure everything is working according to plan and that all is set for the start. Before the beginning of the rehearsal process also the stage manager takes notes on things like attendance, gives announcements and provides the instructions that are to be followed during the rehearsal. During the rehearsal, the stage manager also ensures that order is maintained throughout the process and that all things are working according to the instructions provided by the director. Recording changes introduced to the script as well timing of the running of parts of the play. Regularly keeping tabs with the director on how the rehearsal is fairing to ensure that things are not done wrong at the end of the rehearsal the stage manager shall provide the director with notes gotten from the acuity while also taking questions and remind the crew of the future changes that might affect their schedule. Confirming with the director also on how the rehearsal went by sharing views is another role they managers of stage execute.
Another role of the stage manager plays is to ensure that the room used for rehearsal is cleared and cleaned before leaving. Also making sure the materials used in the production are kept in a secure in a safe place is another duty they must perform ("Stage Manager Duties").A stage manager also is supposed to be prepared to provide first aid in case of an accident happening on stage. To do this, a stage manager must always have the necessary tools for performing first aid ready as well as phone numbers of an emergency medical response team on speed dial in case of a severe injury. Furthermore, the stage manager is also mandated to ensure that the room they pick is well structured with equipment and emergency exit doors in case of incidents such as fire or earthquakes.
Skills Needed by Stage Managers
Excellent planning and leadership skills
A stage manager needs to be organized because a lot of things are involved in any stage before a performance takes place. Thus, a person in this position needs to be time conscious as lack of planning can ruin everything the director would like to take place. Leadership skills is another crucial skill a stage manager is required to have since this job involves managing people from the technician to the actors taking part in the play. Lack of leadership skill can hamper the process involved in organizing the activities taking place on stage.
Decisive and confident
A stage manager needs to be firm and resolute as the production activities need to be done accurately to avoid messing and ruining the whole process. In that regard, one needs to be confident and decisive especially when dealing with individuals who are rigid in following instructions.
Work under pressure
Stage management involves a lot of activities and the many requirements needed can put one under a lot of pressure especially when things don t go as planned. Calmness in tense situations is required if one is to have a successful career in this field.
Ability to multitask
A skilled stage manager takes charge of countless activities ranging from planning, managing cast, and supporting actors as well as coordinating sound and lighting ("AFTT - 5 Skills Needed To Become A Successful Stage Manager"). This is an essential skill because one needs this, especially when handling technical equipment for theatre production.
An excellent stage manager should be patient with the many individuals involved in the production. Working with actor's directors and sound technicians requires one to develop patience especially when communicating ("AFTT - 5 Skills Needed To Become A Successful Stage Manager").
Training to Become Stage Manager
Stage management is a course now offered in a specific institution where one is trained to handle the organization of live performances. Unlike in the past where individuals could learn from others today individuals are interviewed to determine whether they can qualify to be good stage managers or not. At the institution's students of the stage, management is taught through placing them in ranks such as assistants to enable them to learn skills involved handling of the stage performances. Training on the processing of audio and visual equipment is done to ensure that they can comfortably handle the material (Gadd).Through the course also work-based learning is another vital aspect that is provided during training. Students are given an opportunity work in a variety of stages and thus enable them to gain experience working in different areas. Teaching stage-management is done in several ways which include lectures, workshops for practical is and well as providing tutorials on how performances and production are done. At the end of the course, assessment is done by giving the students to complete practical and written assignments as well assessing how well they performed with regards to keeping records as well as the execution of projects they conducted (Gadd). Stage management training, however, is a continuous process as a person continues to learn new things as they organize many stage performances over time.
"AFTT - 5 Skills Needed To Become A Successful Stage Manager." Aftt.edu.au. N.p., 2018. Web. 12 Mar. 2018.
Carmody, Fiona Clare. Standby progress, progress go: An oral history of stage management and the digital age. Diss. Oklahoma State University, 2015.
Gadd, Ben. "Setting The Scene: How To Become A Stage Manager." The Independent. N.p., 2018. Web. 12 Mar. 2018.
"Stage Manager Duties." Emporia.edu. N.p., 2018. Web. 12 Mar. 2018.
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