How to Be a Stage Manager

Being a part of a live performing art production can be very exciting, and very fulfilling, especially if you play such a major role. Being a stage manager is being the central brain of any sort of production, whether it be a musical or a small choir concert at your high school. More so, it can look amazing on a resume for future jobs!


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    Know the qualifications and characteristics of a stage manager. The characteristics that qualify one to become a stage manager include the following: leadership and management skills; teammate; assumes responsibility; dependable; loyal; discrete; ability to maintain cool and collected; good sense of humor; and great communication skills.
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    Know the jobs of a stage manager. A stage manager is the key position of any production. They take blocking notations, note who is absent or who steps foot into a meeting, schedule meetings and call times, consistently communicate with the director and choreographer, writing up rehearsal reports, and pretty much being a part of every single aspect of a production.
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    Volunteer. Go to your high school or local playhouse. They are always looking for volunteers that have extra time on their hands. They don't pay much (or none at all), so go into it with an open mind and open heart.
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    Start from the bottom. To be on your way to the top of the ladder, start out as a stagehand or stage crew, or even the spotlight. Starting as a spotlight operator, you will be able to hear every command the stage manager gives.
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    Wear black and dress conservatively. Wearing black is a must in all theaters; it keeps us from being too visible on the wings of the stage or in the side of the audience. Dressing conservatively is a must for most professional jobs (all theater jobs are professional).
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    Working every job before becoming a stage manager is a must. It will help you understand what each team member is doing and how difficult their job is. Also, if you are looking to be hired at a high-end theater, they look for people who know all the ropes. This can include light board, spotlight, lighting design, stage crew (or stagehand), assistant to the director, or an assistant stage manager.
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    Have time. You need to have enough time in your schedule to be early to every single meet (whether it be a meeting, rehearsal, dress rehearsal, or a performance), to set up for whatever the event, and to clean up, and lock up the meeting space.
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    Be assertive. Usually stage managers are said to be rude and snotty. But not every stage manager should be like this. You must remain calm, cool, and collected. However, stand your ground when needed. Do your very best to not snap.
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    Customer service! Yes, it exists in a theater, even at a high school. If someone complains about gum on the floor, assure them it will be taken care of immediately, and then get someone from your crew or the House Management crew to clean it up if you are in a tight spot.
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    If you don't know what you are doing, act like you know what you're doing. If you panic, so will everyone else. You want every single crew member to be calm in a pinch. Things will be solved quickly this way.
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    Take some classes at a community college or high school. Some classes include: Touring Production, Stage Lighting, and Theater Management.


  • Be assertive.
  • Always do your best! Meaning 200% of what you got!
  • This is not a job for the shy or timid.
  • Have plenty of time on your hands and be extremely flexible.
  • You have to be able to deal with lack of sleep. Some stage managers work from 12pm until 3 or 4am.


  • Never, ever, on any occasion, start a rumor or badmouth behind someone's back. This is probably the most unprofessional thing anyone can do.
  • Try not to have any other job. This takes full attention and commitment.
  • Even though you are a crucial player, you can be fired and replaced easily if you aren't doing your job or striving to be the best.
  • If anything happens backstage, since you're in charge, it's your fault, so make sure everything's in tip top shape!

Things You'll Need

  • Try reading "The Stage Management Handbook", written by Daniel Lonazzi. This was my fundamental go-to book for nearly everything I ever learned.
  • Confidence!

Article Info

Categories: Theater | Arts and Entertainment