How To Train The Perfect Stage Manager-Plus, a FREE Download!

Like I said in this last post, stage managers are insanely important to your show! They are the backbone to your tech crew and the director's right hand. Because of the huge role they play (pun intended) I created a handbook especially for stage managers to help them keep your show organized and running smoothly. 

So when I give them this handbook, I also like to brief them on their duties and what I expect of them. Here's my list of topics I cover during my ad-hoc Stage Manager Orientation. 

Communication

I want completely open and honest communication between my stage manager and I. I usually let them in on more than the rest of the students. This boosts our mutual trust and lets me have a reliable confidant inside the theatre at all times. Out of all the students I keep in touch with, this student is the one who is constantly at the top of my list. I like to text them when I have an issue or need to be reminded of something later. Make it clear to this student that they will need their phone on them at all times. 

Behavior Problems

These, hopefully, will be few and far between. But they are inevitable when a group of students are around each other constantly and under stress. I like to be able to trust my stage manager to handle a lot of this on their own. If a student sneaks a phone backstage or is constantly late for rehearsal, I want my stage manager to be the first one to deal with it. Of course, the highest level of authority a stage manager will have is just to tell me what's going on, but that should be enough to make a student straighten up. Talk to your stage manager about what they should handle on their own and what should be brought to your attention. 

Script

The stage manager's script is one of the most important copies you will have. It has all the highlighted dialogue, overview of blocking and notes you continually talk over throughout your show. Make sure they have a complete understanding of the need for their annotated script. They can review the blog post I wrote here about the best way to take notes in a script. 

Dropped Lines

Explain to them why you want a log of dropping lines. They may seem trivial at the moment, but it can show a bigger picture of students who do (or do not) take the show seriously. These dropped lines can be noted in the Notes section their handbook. 

Phones

Phones are not tolerated during rehearsal. Under no circumstances do I allow the students to have their phones. At the beginning of rehearsal, it is the stage manager's responsibility to take up all the phones to make sure no one is distracted. 

Only the stage manager is allowed to have a cell phone on them during rehearsal. I make it clear that they are only allowed to use this to communicate with me from backstage. If we're in the middle of a run through and I don't want to break the pace of the show, I can text my stage manager backstage to remind them of the new lighting cues that need to be called. 

Make it very clear that they can't abuse this power or they'll lose the respect of fellow students. 

Rehearsal

They will be the gate keeper of rehearsal. As you'll see the free download, there's a place to keep tabs on rehearsal attendance. I want a record of everyone who has and hasn't been there. Not only to know who's missing, but this also comes in handy if and when you have disciplinary problems down the road. 

Also included in your rehearsal forms are a section to take note of rehearsal goals. I usually give a 15 minute talk as rehearsal starts on what I want to see, what we'll be working on, what improvements I expect to happen. I like for my stage manager to take note of all this so we can track how long we've been working on a certain topic. If we've had 10 rehearsals in a row where "fix enunciation and projection" finds a spot in those notes, I know I've got something to cover. 

There's also a section on tech goals. This is where I like to have all our tech goals recorded so we can track progress. This space usually has "block scene 5 lighting" or "gather all transition music" included in it. 

This rehearsal forms is the perfect visualization of the daily expectations I have of my stage manager. 

Get The Ultimate Stage Manager Handbook for free!

 
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