What is a Stage Manager?
Taken right from Wikipedia, which sums it up very nicely:
Stage management is the practice of organizing and coordinating a theatrical production. It encompasses a variety of activities, including organizing the production and coordinating communications between various personnel (e.g., between director and backstage crew, or actors and production management). Stage management is a sub-discipline of stagecraft. Stage managers may use a Stage Manager’s book to help organize the production.
A stage manager is one who has overall responsibility for stage management and the smooth execution of a production. Stage management may be performed by an individual in small productions, while larger productions typically employ a stage management team consisting of a head stage manager, or “Production Stage Manager”, and one or more assistant stage managers.
How Am I A Stage Manager?
I have been applying the label of Stage Manager to myself since 2004, since I was given that title in my high school drama club. I grew more into that role during my years at UW – Parkside and Sunset Playhouse, and since have found that that title applies to so much more outside of the theater world.
The Stage Manager’s job begins by going through the script and throughly researching every line, stage direction, and footnote that they are going to need to understand and run during the course of the show. This step comes in before they even get to the first production meeting or rehearsal. I look at life as very scripted, since many life events are predictable (in my eyes), such as when I’m going to be in school, when I’ll be at work, when specific television shows come on, when certain movies come out, so on and so forth. I’ve arranged my own music library on this concept – that one can predict one’s own life:
From there, the Stage Manager organizes their “Promptbook” or binder with all the information related to the show they are working on, which acts as a living bible for the production. I do this with the different aspects of my personal life. I have a binder with all the paperwork related to my car, I have a binder with all the paperwork related to my health, I have a binder with all the paperwork related to my finances, ect.
From an electronic perspective, I look at my cloud storages such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, etc as my e-Promptbooks, with any notes I find on the internet or want to save in my everyday thoughts organized on there.
The Stage Manager monitors their cast during the rehearsal and production process, and I feel the same way about my own circle of friends. I tend to identify as the “mother” of my own groups.
During the performance, the stage manager is “calling” the cues, be they lights, sounds, special effects, and many other types. In other words, they are orchestrating everything is going on using language on headsets connected throughout the performance space. I see life events, online posts, and life moments as my own cues that my mind is orchestrating around me. This is the core of my belief in the phrase “Everything happens for a reason.”
Finally, after the performances are over, it’s the stage manager’s last job to coordinate “strike” or the takedown of the production. I find myself in various settings that are similar to this, such as the closing shift in a restaurant, or moving from one place to another. The more I go through these processes, I better I am able to create closure on my life events, and process them better mentally and emotionally.
At the end of the day, I identify as a stage manager because it accurately sums up how I view my life on a day-to-day level.