“One of the most rewarding parts of stage managing for me is the SM’s need to be intimately connected to every aspect of a production. A courteous relationship with all parties; actors, crew, designer, and management, can be essential in communicating effectively. As can a basic knowledge of all aspects of production including lights, sound, costumes, props, scenic, etc. I have been fortunate enough to receive a well rounded technical education, and I am always looking to expand on my knowledge!
It can be easy for stage managers to assert leadership in an off-putting, or even destructive manner. The most effective method I have found is to always remain kind, but firm. I strive to treat company members the way I would want to be treated, but keep my resolve when necessary. The use of the improvisation methods “Yes, and…” and “No, but…” have been helpful tools when dealing with tricky situations.
The ability to look forward and anticipate the needs of your production can be one of the most crucial aspects of stage management. Preventing setbacks can save time, money and sometimes a trip to the hospital. While everyone else in the room is focused on this moment, I try to be looking ahead to what’s on the horizon. There’s a reason stage managers get a whole week to prep before rehearsals even start!
Keeping your rehearsal room, binder and mind well organized means you can find exactly what you need when you need it. I never want to keep someone waiting while I find that one piece of paperwork. The easier and quicker I can procure a piece of information the better!
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I have found the ability to say “I don’t know, but I can find out.” as well as “I don’t know, can you help me understand?” to be extremely helpful when interacting with your company. At the end of day stage managers are not robots, we are human beings. And as much as we’d like to know everything there is to know, have access to whatever your team may need, and see exactly what the future holds, we simply cannot. These situations are where I always try to react in the most honest but helpful way possible. I’ve found that rather an oversell my abilities, a truthful assessment can lead to a much more effective path leading forward.”