IMPORTANT NOTE: Our theatre is sometimes rented to other groups during our rehearsals. It is important that the S.M. checks the Rental Calendar in the Club Room informs the Tech Producer and the Director of our current production and ensures that all members of the cast and crew leave the stage, dressing rooms, bathrooms and club room in a clean and tidy manner before the renter arrives. Thank You.
The Stage Manager’s Role
Listed here are tasks for the Stage Manager (SM), with the overall goal of creating a production in an efficient and positive manner. The SM is the “King Pin” for a show – Absolutely Responsible for Absolutely Everything once a show opens. Your ability to successfully lead and work with the company, although at times possibly stressful, will be of utmost importance. Your overall purpose is to work directly with the Director, all cast and the Production Team to bring a show from its inception to its conclusion.
So much of what an SM does relates directly to the nature of the working relationship you establish with your Director, Production Team, cast and crew. In many cases you will be involved in personal and confidential information or managing “personality” issues. Your own interpersonal skills and diplomacy may be challenged. Staying calm and positive will be two critical attributes throughout the production process.
Who Makes a Good Stage Manager?
- Someone who is organized.
- Someone who knows the theatre building.
- Someone who knows how to problem solve.
- Someone who has a basic understanding of all the technical demands of a production: lights, sound, props, costumes, set changes, make-up changes, and special effects.
- Someone with a firm, kind, polite, respectful, and calm manner who can encourage and lead a large number of people to achieve a high standard of back stage discipline.
- Someone with a lot of stamina and a good sense of humour.
Building/Safety – three weeks before rehersal
Get to know the building. A large part of your role is the safety of the cast, the crew and the audience. Take note of potential safety problems and pass on concerns to VP Facilities without delay. Advise VP Facilities of ideas you have to improve safety and offer to help organize a work party in the area of concern. Make arrangements to be trained as necessary. When in doubt, stop and ask for help.
- Know location of fire extinguishers and how they operate.
- Know the location of all fuse boxes.
- Know the location of the tool room and the key.
- Check that all fire exits are clearly marked.
- Check the backstage first aid kit and replace any missing supplies or request this of one of the Producers. Submit receipts for reimbursement.
- Become familiar with the basic operation of:
- The main curtain.
- Work lights, running lights, house lights, rehearsal lights, the stage lighting console, and ghost light
- The sound system
- Head set intercom system
- Hearing assist system, including where it plugs in
- Video monitor system
- Fly line system
- Heating System
- Alarm and sign-in system
Arrange a time to have a evacuation/fire drill for all cast and crew. Do this at a time when all cast and crew are there and before rehearsals get underway. If you don’t know the procedure, ask Sarah McLean 250-542-7027 or Kristine Larsen 250-307-4031 for assistance.
Stage Management Preperation
- Purchase a good sized notebook/binder/dividers
- Become thoroughly familiar with the script – read several times
- Make notes of set changes, lighting needs, sound needs, special effects, and any special rigging. Make notes of costume and make-up changes, especially those that happen back stage. Start to make notes on how to best move set pieces as this will have an impact on number of running crew required.
- Prepare your script for the run of the play. This may be separate from the rehearsal script. Photocopy each page enlarged to fill the page. Arrange in a 3-ring binder with a blank page to the left of the script page. The blank page will have all cue #’s written on it. You can have arrows indicating where they occur on the script. You may also want to color code them.
- Have a reliable watch or a clock at all times.
- Check the SM desk for flashlights and batteries.
- Be familiar with job descriptions for all production positions.
The Technical Producer will arrange a meeting with the Director, the Admin Producer and you to develop the Production Schedule. A Production Meeting schedule will be set and, with advice from the Director, each Producer will enter their deadlines in the schedule. The Producers will create the schedule and will make copies for each production head and make sure that all the crew, lighting, sound, props, costumes, make-up/hair, and special effects are aware of the production & rehearsal timelines. The SM and the Producers will ensure a copy is displayed prominently in the Club Room.
The Production Team
- Ensure you have the contact information for all of the Production Team members from the Producers.
- Collect phone numbers and e-mails from the cast and circulate to the Production Team.
- Attend ALL production meetings and help support your Technical Production Heads to solve any problems.
- Meet with the set designer and to help tape out the set.
- Assist the set designer and/or set décor head and props person to find rehearsal furniture and props.
- If the play is a period piece, ask the costume designer to have rehearsal skirts etc. ready for rehearsals.
Support the audition process through:
- organization of online and in-person audition forms once completed
- taking notes for the director during auditions as needed
- assisting with phoning those who auditioned to advise of final casting decisions
- passing all audition forms to the Admin Producer when casting is confirmed
With the Director, develop a rehearsal schedule that details the dates and times of every rehearsal and, if the Director wishes, the plan for each rehearsal – what pages will be done and who is required. Distribute the schedule to the cast and the production team and any others who may need it, and ensure it is updated as needed. Post and maintain the schedule in the club room.
In developing the overall rehearsal schedule, it can be helpful to start at the Strike and work backwards.
- run of the play
- opening night (Wednesday)
- Preview Night (Monday or Tuesday – alternate night may be dark or have rehearsal – Director’s choice) – audience is comprised of PH members and invited audience from the community.
- family performance (Sunday matinee before preview)
- Tech week – one week of full run-throughs – all cast and crew, sound, lights, etc.
Be ready to accommodate key Production Schedule dates such as:
- Costume Parade – Ask Costume Designer which night(s) to have an early call for a costume parade with the director and the actors
- Make-up/Hair – determine if an early call might be necessary for make-up and hair review
- Crew Rehearsal – Depending on the complexity of the production, you may decide to call a few rehearsals of just your crew to rehearse changing scenes or props. These changes have to be orchestrated so that they will be smooth, swift, and economical.
- * Light/Sound levels – Arrange a time a week or more before Tech week with and the Director and the Light and Sound Designers to number and record cues. Lights and sound can be done at the same time or separately. It may be desirable to have one or two or more bodies available on stage.
- Lighting Set –1 night or all day for lighting person to have theatre to him/herself – dark.
Always encourage respect. Set a good example for everyone by being supportive to all throughout the rehearsal process and during the run – cast and crew.
- Arrive at least ½ hour before call time. The SM is always first to arrive for each rehearsal and last to leave.
- Get coffee ready if needed
- Arrange set furniture for the scene.
- Help Props people arrange props on and off stage.
- Call actors who are late.
- Time rehearsals (typically 3 hours). With the director’s guidance, call a break 90 minutes, unless another group of actors is arriving. Call actors back to rehearsal after break.
- Record all blocking in pencil – you may need to erase later.
- Provide line cues on request.
- Remind all cast/crew to wash their own dishes with soap and take care of belongings.
- Confirm the next night’s rehearsal and note which scene to set up.
- Leave notes for or e-mail department heads of changes that have taken place when they haven’t been at rehearsal.
- Turn off coffee machine and all electronics.
- Close down all lights, close all fire doors.
- Ensure ghost light is on.
- Set the alarm and lock the door – ensure you are the last person to leave.
- During technical rehearsals, sound and light levels are fine-tuned and all cues are recorded by the SM in their script. Lighting and sound cues are numbered separately. Each may also be given a color code.
- Sound cues are labeled SQ
- Lighting cues are labeled LX. Black outs are included and numbered.
- Special effects are labeled SPE.
- Each is called approximately a ½ page before they occur and are called on STAND BY. When they are to occur, you say GO. For example:
- “STAND BY SQ1, STANDBY LX 1” They respond by saying “Standing By”. You then say “SQ go, LX go” or “sound go”; “lights go.” During a STAND BY, all crew on headset are silent.
- The house lights, (although operated manually), the preset lights, & the pre-show music may also be numbered.
- Cue to cue – 1 night with lights, sound and special effects and full crew for cue to cue with you in the booth.
- Ensure that all crew are aware they must wear black and good, sturdy quiet shoes.
If there are any problems with lights, sound, props, make-up/hair or costumes, refer them to the Tech Producer.
Two Weeks Before Preview– or earlier if needed
Continue to build morale of cast and crew. Help foster a good team spirit. Stay organized and the next two weeks will go smoothly.
- Remind Tech Producer of time line so he/she can arrange their rehearsal schedule and remind heads of crew.
- Remind crew of their time line. Remind all running crew, lights, sound, props, makeup, hair, special effects, set décor, costume designer and dressers and ASM to be at ALL rehearsals from now on. It is also helpful if they stay for notes at the end of the night as sometimes notes can be lost in translation from one person to another.
- Remind crew that it is all hands on deck for the rest of the time.
- Set up a table in the house with two head sets. One for you and one for the director.
- Set up A.S.M. head set backstage.
- Set up work lights for props and quick costume changes backstage.
- Tape down carpet to cover extension cords or run overhead whenever possible.. We have carpet pieces for this purpose. The Scene Shop Manager will tell you where they are.
- Apply lure (GLOW) tape where needed.
- Put down backstage sound proofing when needed. (old carpets)
- Make sure fire exits are clear (both onstage and in scene shop)
- Start timing each act.
Two Nights Before Opening
Stay focused and supportive to the whole production team. Do a last walk through of the entire building. Ropes tidy? Carpets stapled down? Lighting instruments all safety chained? Fire exits clear inside and out? This is very important!!
- Post sign-in sheet at the stage door for all cast and crew for balance of the run.
- Post clean-up schedule for cast/crew for all common rooms used (dressing room, club room, green room).
- Have a secure place for show members to place valuables.
- Make sure that the backstage area is tidy& swept and damp mopped.
- Stage is dry mopped (blue one) and damp mopped every night by you and or the ASM.
- Inform the house manager about any special exits or entrances from the foyer.
- Inform house managers about when to seat latecomers.
Ensure that ASM/crew/house manager are aware of the following:
- Inform cast and crew where they are NOT allowed to go during the run. They are limited to backstage and dressing rooms.
- No “visitors” are permitted in backstage area or in the booth. If someone should enter, introduce yourself and ask them if you can help them. Explain why it is important for them not to be where they are. Example: Safety or fire regulations do not permit, but you will be happy to relay a message to whoever they need to contact.
- No Front of House people are permitted backstage other than the house manager to inform you or the ASM that the house doors are closed.
- No visitors are permitted in the dressing rooms unless cleared by the Producer. For example: if a child must wait in the dressing room for a parent who is helping in a pre-show capacity only.
- ASM or SM will deliver flowers to dressing rooms.
During the Run
Remember that you are the one responsible for everything and everyone to be ready and to maintain director’s intentions.
- Arrive 1½ hours before curtain or earlier depending on the complexity of the show.
- Check that lights and sound have completed their checks and they are ready to go to first cue before the house opens.
- Check that special effects are ready to go.
- Check that all masking & set pieces are in the correct place and that all props are in their correct places. If not, respectfully ask props to remedy.
- Inform Front of House manager EVERY NIGHT about special procedures and that you will tell them when to open the house. Advise that should an audience member need to enter during the show, it must be while the actors are speaking and never during a blackout. And they must enter through the upstairs door.
- Inform actors about checking props before house is open – usually ½ hour before curtain. Give actors and crew a 30 minute call, a 15 minute call and 5 minute to curtain (‘places please’). Ask actors to respond to your calls to be sure you’ve been heard.
- At 5 minutes to curtain, ASM will alert audience by flickering the lights in the Foyer
- Ask ASM to inform you when doors are closed
- START ON TIME. If you always start late, your audience will always arrive late.
- Sometimes Front of House will ask you to hold the curtain if someone is running for the front door. Give them a couple of minutes to seat people – it is less disruptive than seating them during the show.
- After each show, any damage to set pieces or props must be repaired before you leave the theatre or responsible persons notified. i.e. Set décor, or construction people.
- Valuable items or weapons should be locked in the cabinet in the control booth. Encourage cast and crew to leave personal valuables at home
After the Run- attend the strike
- Remind all cast and crew to be there for the strike.
- Remind heads of departments that they are responsible for returning borrowed or rented items.
- Create assignments where necessary to ensure stage areas are cleaned, set pieces put in storage areas, stage swept, damp mopped and painted back to black.
- Light/sound booth is cleaned, tidied, vacuumed. Patch bay is left tidy.
- Dressing Rooms, Club room, Bathrooms are cleaned, Scene shop swept and garbage put in the dumpster.
- Remind all Production Team members to return their front door key to the Key Masters box in the Club Room. Their codes will then be discontinued and their keys will then be available for the next production Team.
- Attend a de-brief meeting to review the entire production process as arranged by the VP Productions. Be prepared to share your input regarding what you think went well, the challenges you experienced and lessons you feel would be helpful for future productions.