Stage managers typically provide practical and organizational support to the director, actors, designers, stage crew and technicians throughout the production process. The role of the stage manager is especially important to the director in rehearsals. Here the director and the stage manager work side by side, with the stage manager recording the director's decisions about blocking and notes for the actors, keeping track of logistical and scheduling details and communicating what goes on in rehearsals to the rest of the team. This enables the director to concentrate his or her full attention on directing.
The stage manager and the technical director also work out a smooth and efficient plan for the stage crew to follow during set changes. Furniture and prop plans for complicated sets are drawn up by the stage manager and technical designer to show exactly where the furniture and props are to be positioned on stage at the beginning of each scene and sometimes in the wings.
Once the show opens, the director's work is essentially complete. Now it's the stage manager's job to make sure that every aspect of the production runs just as the director intended time after time, until the production closes
• organising rehearsals
• working with others to plan wardrobe, set design, scene changes, sound and lighting
• managing the props budget and organising props and set dressing
• keeping the ‘prompt copy’ of the script (which notes the performers’ positions on stage, script changes, and the props, lighting and sound needed for each scene)
• cheduling and running rehearsals
• communicating the director's wishes to designers and crafts people
• coordinating the work of the stage crew
• calling cues and possibly actors' entrances during performance
• overseeing the entire show each time it is performed
Most work is with theatre companies and concert production companies. You could also find opportunities in corporate and public events, theme parks, holiday camps and on cruise ships. Freelance and contract work is common.
Competition for jobs is strong, although there are more opportunities for regular work in stage management and technical theatre than in performing. Almost all graduates of Drama UK-approved stage management courses find work.
Some jobs are advertised in the trade press, although it is more common to find work through networking and contacts. If you join the Stage Management Association, you can arrange for your details to be sent to potential employers when you are available for work.
With experience, you could manage a theatre company, become a theatre producer, or move into TV production.