Dear Professor Production
Reviewing Rehearsal Notes Can Boost Manager's Confidence
Help! I was just "appointed" to be the stage manager of a show here at our university. I am a freshman and have never been a stage manager prior to today! The real stage manager had to leave school, and my tech professor just handed me a script and said, "Here, you are the stage manager." When I asked him what that entailed, he said, "Be everything to everybody, and be in charge." Oh My! What have I gotten myself into, and where can I find help?
Tortured in Texas
And the professor replies:
Don't worry! You are not alone here, and there are many resources for you to peruse! First off, don't be afraid to let people know that this is your first time stage managing. Believe it or not, most of us in the teaching profession welcome students that ask questions!
As I mentioned before, yours is not an isolated situation. Many colleges have a theatre department that puts on productions, but not all of them offer any type of course work in stage management! There is help! Besides asking your friends here at USITT, check out a few textbooks on Amazon.com. Thomas Kelly's The Backstage Guide to Stage Management, and Lawrence Stern's Stage Management (7th edition) are great starts. The Stage Manager's Handbook by Bert Gruver is also a good resource.
OK, next let's get to what it means to be "everything to everybody." While this may sound like an overwhelming task, it will get easier each time you do it. One of the best ways to achieve this is to communicate with everyone involved in the production. Make sure you take copious notes at rehearsal and then communicate them to all parties involved in the production. Do this each day, and make sure you stop into the scene and costume shop every day to say hello. It goes a long way in relationship building.
There is a lot to learn, but keep your chin up, don't get discouraged, and make sure you attend all of the great Management Commission sessions on stage management next year in Louisville!
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