So you found that award winning script that will put you on the map. Then you found the director who’s going to get you there. Now that you have your money to put the production on, and found the perfect venue. Now its time to find a Stage Manage for your production. Most typical productions will have one main stage manager (usually referred to as the Production Stage Manager) and one assistant stage manager (usually referred to as an ASM). They both do similar jobs with the main Stage Manger being the one in charge of the assistant and issuing them orders. In tern if the play requires a large enough crew to complete scene changes, the Assistant Stage Manger may be the one in charge of them. Depending on the needs of the show and budgetary constraints you may only need one.
A good stage manager can make a huge difference in your production. Stage managers are glue that helps make sure all aspects of the production can come together and that all important parties are being kept in the loop. They will also be responsible for the running and calling of the show once it is on it's feet and all the tech elements are in place. A stage manager has many responsibilities and will often be expected to do many jobs. They are typically the first one to show up to rehearsals and performances and the last one to leave at the end of the night.
During rehearsal the stage manager has many responsibilities. These include: taking notes on blocking, ensuring all the actors are present and on time, assisting the director, acquiring rehearsal props, writing and sending out the rehearsal report, and setting up the rehearsal space. A stage manager must be capable of doing all of these thing and more. A stage manager must be very adaptable and ready to change at a moments notice, they must also keep communication open between all departments involved in the play and must be ready to either answer questions or find the answers to questions that are asked about the production.
On tech day the stage manger will begin to learn all the cues that will be in the show (lights, sound, video, etc.) The stage manger will write these cues down in their book at the appropriate place where they will be called. The stage manager must then become familiar with where and how these cues are called throughout the show. It will be their responsibility to ensure that the cues are called correctly and that the show runs smoothly. As the show gets closer and closer to opening and just general running of the show different responsibilities will be expected of them. They must arrive early to performances and clean the stage. They must also check all the props that are to be used in the show and make sure they are ready to go and in working order. If there is food to be prepared (for the show) they must make sure and prepare it. They must make sure the lighting board and sound board are up and running and they must check that all the tech elements are working properly.
Depending on the venue the stage manager may be asked to run the board themselves. If it is a small 99 seat venue then this is usually the case. They may run both the lights and the sound as a show will typically not have more than 2 types of cues that need running. So a stage manger should be prepared to run a show by themselves and be familiar with the lighting and sound consoles and the programs they use. If you are working in a venue that provides board operators then you should make sure that they are familiar with the tech systems.