It’s safe to say that theater folk are some of the most superstitious people around. Lucky for you, this post doesn’t deal with ghosts in the green room or haunted balconies!CC Image by Nick Royer
Stage managers are easily the greatest unsung heroes of the theater world. They work tirelessly to make sure that each show runs smoothly from beginning to end and somehow also manage to pick up fruit and veggies for pre-show snack-time.
I’ve heard some completely ridiculous myths about the role of stage manager. I’m not entirely sure where they originated from but we’re going to debunk them right here and now.
1. Stage Managers Begin When the Cast Begins
This couldn’t’ be more wrong! Stage managers are at the rehearsal space long before the cast arrives and are typically the last to leave. The good ones will often do prep work long before the first rehearsal (or even production meeting) takes place.
2. They Don’t Need to be Know Blocking Language and Abbreviations
If there’s one thing my personal experiences as a performer have taught me, it’s that the best stage managers are the ones that are completely fluent in blocking language and associated abbreviations. They will help you decode the blocking hieroglyphics in your score and make sure that you get any notes that you may have missed. They often take copious, easy-to-translate notes that will figuratively (and sometimes literally) save your bacon.
CC Image by Victor Jeg
3. Their Only Concern is What’s Happening Onstage
This one couldn’t be further from the truth. Stage managers are concerned and involved in every aspect of production. Blocking, lighting, tech cues, attendance…these are all part and parcel of their job.
4. They Have to Tip-Toe Around Cast Egos While Giving Notes
Realistically, they don’t have to do anything. There’s nothing that says that stage managers have to protect cast members feelings or humor inflated egos. But many stage managers do monitor the overall morale of the cast and take this into consideration when doling out post-rehearsal notes. They understand the surprisingly subtle differences between giving helpful, constructive criticism and ripping the male lead a new one!
5. They Have an Easy Job
By now it should be pretty clear that these tireless workhorses have anything but an easy job. They are the calm-cool-and-collected, keep-it-together, peacekeepers of the theater world. As performers, we absolutely need them to ensure productions reach their full potential.
The next time you see your stage manager – or any stage manager for that matter – give them a smile and a thank-you for all of their hard-work and long hours!
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