How to become a Stage Manager

Stage managers plan and coordinate rehearsals and performances, including supervision of the plotting and rehearsal of technical cues, props, stage elements and moving scenery.

Personal requirements of a Stage Manager

  • Practical and organised
  • Artistic flair
  • Authority and tact
  • Able to work under pressure
  • Able to work as part of a team

Education & Training for a Stage Manager

To become a stage manager you usually need to complete a VET qualification in theatre arts, live production and technical services or live production and management services. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have a degree in stage management, theatre, drama, technical production or performance, in addition to extensive industry experience. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education with English. Applicants may be required to attend an interview, audition or workshop. A number of institutions in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Institutions have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Stage Manager

Stage managers may perform the following tasks:

  • analyse and interpret the script, plans, models and designs for all relevant technical and production information
  • consult with management, designers and the director to determine requirements for rehearsal and performance
  • undertake administrative duties, including prioritising tasks and determining production resources such as time, finance, personnel and physical space
  • prepare for rehearsals and obtain all required resources, such as props, costumes and settings
  • prepare and distribute all necessary rehearsal, production and performance documentation
  • prepare the prompt copy, which defines actors’ calls and movements, technical cues, stage elements, props and moving scenery, and front-of-house communications
  • organise the rehearsal space and process, including final transfer to the venue
  • supervise and direct backstage staff and members of the stage management team
  • give cues for lights, sound, cast entrances, moving scenery and other performance elements
  • ensure production resources are stored safely.

Working conditions for a Stage Manager

Stage managers work in all types of live performances. They work closely with production departments, venue management, creative teams and performers. Stage managers may be required to travel extensively. They work long hours, including nights and weekends.

Employment Opportunities for a Stage Manager

Stage managers are employed by film, TV and theatre production companies. As with other jobs in the arts industry, employment is generally on a contract basis and runs for the duration of the particular production. The demand for stage managers generally depends on the level of funding available for production. This is a highly competitive field.

Additional Information
Each November the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) conduct interviews in most states and territories for their courses. Contact NIDA (www.nida.edu.au) or WAAPA (www.waapa.ecu.edu.au) for more information. The Queensland University of Technology and The Victorian College of the Arts usually hold interviews in November and early December. Contact VCA (http://vca.unimelb.edu.au) or QUT (www.qut.edu.au/creative-industries) for more information.
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