Next Story in this issue
News & Notices
News From:
Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record
Dear Professor Production
When Actors Make Changes


Dear Professor Production:
As a stage manager I am having a problem "containing" the acting company when the director has left. Although he is on the faculty, the director does not return for each performance like some other faculty directors.

My issue is that some of the acting company have decided to make funny moments so large to get a laugh that the other actors are getting their lines stepped on by the laughter. It wasn't intended to be that way, but the actors have started to "discover" moments now that we have an audience.

My issue is that the actors won't listen to me when I try to give them notes. They keep doing what they think is best. Is this the way it's going to be for my career, or do actors actually listen to the stage managers in the "real world?"

Pestered in Pittsburgh

And the professor replies:

Dear Pestered:
Sounds like we have a few things to go over here. The good news is that in the "real world," most actors will listen to the stage manager out of respect for the position. The bad news is that most college professors don't stress that enough in their acting classes, and the stage manager gets the short end of the stick.

In my opinion, this hierarchy should be set at the first company call. The director should clearly state that in his absence, the stage manager's word is what goes.

In this case, you should call the director of the show and let him know that, in your observations, the acting has gone over the top for the wrong reasons. If the director can come back, then he can give the notes. In this case, I would not tell the acting company he is returning so they don't go back to their old ways for just the night!

If he cannot come back, and they are not listening to you, I would ask the director to have another faculty member attend and see what's going on. If at all possible, and with the director's approval, I may go so far as to tell them that you are withholding a passing grade for the production if they don't listen and respect the position of stage manager.

Good Luck!

"Dear Professor Production" is available to answer your questions. Please forward them to

To Top

"Professor Production" is available to answer your questions. Please forward any questions to