Stage Manager Education
Standards Sent to NAST
Vice-Commissioner for Stage Management
One of the highlights of the Houston 2008 Conference & Stage Expo was the unanimous approval by both the Education and Management Commissions of proposed standards and guidelines for BFA stage management degrees. This proposal (download a complete PDF copy here) has been sent to the National Association of Schools of Theatre for their comment and adoption process. NAST agreed in 2007 to take the project on if the Institute supported it and the membership offered its enthusiastic support in March.
The Management Commission developed a core competencies project several years back to help define the basic skills for each theatre job group. Many Commissions have taken those core competencies and used them as the basis of other works. The same was true for this project. A committee of 10 people from across the country drafted the stage management document. Half were full-time professional stage managers or persons who hired young stage managers, and the other half were persons who teach stage management while maintaining active careers.
Through conference calls and e-mails, the group met and drafted standards and guidelines. The definition of these words comes from NAST. Standards must be met in order to be certified. Guidelines give direction when trying to achieve standards. Once drafted, a separate committee of educators and professionals read the work, offered comments and suggestions, and sent it back to the drafting group. Those responses were taken to account, changes made, and the document sent back for a final reading before being presented.
As such, a proposal was put forward to the Commissions which allows for employers and graduate schools to know what they should expect from a stage manager graduating with a BFA. Additionally, schools seeking to develop courses or degree plans now have a document which outlines what both educators and industry professionals have deemed essential skills for young stage managers.
The membership of both the drafting committee and the outside readers could not have achieved this goal so efficiently and quickly without the support of the Commission leaderships, the leadership of the Institute, and the leadership of NAST. However, it was the approval of the membership in Houston that really pushed the project over the top.
Thanks to all for the overwhelming support of this important collaboration between Commissions and, hopefully, that enthusiasm will carry forward in the formal adoption process.
On the drafting committee were: David Grindle, Chair, lecturer in stage management, Indiana University; Jack Feivou, general manager, Disney-MGM Studios Entertainment Division; Tina Shackleford, lecturer in stage management, Carnegie-Mellon University; Kimberley Barry, production stage manager, Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Travis DeCastro, associate professor of stage management, Penn State University; Tayneshia Jefferson, production coordinator, Pro Arts Collective, Austin, Texas; Jay Sheehan, instructor of stage management, San Diego State University; Rich Costabile, AEA stage manager, past chair, Stage Managers Association, New York City; James Birder, professor of stage management, University of Iowa; Trevor Long, associate director of production, Guthrie Theatre; and Chris Hatch, Ph.D. candidate, Indiana University, scribe and secretary.
Outside readers were: Michael Gros, coordinator and assistant professor, Kansas State University; Meredith Greenburg, AEA/ AGMA, associate professor, California State University- Los Angeles; James Latus, AEA stage manager, New York City; Tony Hardin, associate professor, University of Kentucky; and William Kenyon, head of BFA design and technology, Penn State University.
A complete copy of the pdf is available here.