How to be a Deputy Stage Manager

Kat is the Deputy Stage Manager (DSM) at the Royal & Derngate theatre. Find out which route she took to get into this role and how you can follow in her footsteps.

How to be a Deputy Stage Manager (DSM)


Interviewers: Hi, I'm Martin and I'm Megan and we're here with...

Kat: Kat, I'm the DSM Deputy Stage Manager on Holes. The production in the Royal & Derngate.

Interviewer: So would you describe your job in one sentence for me Kat?

Kat: It's quite a long sentence. So during rehearsals I document everything that's happening and where everything is and where everybody is meant to be on and offstage. I remind the Actors of their lines and then during shows I tell the light, sound, flies, stage crew, anybody else when to do their cues.

Interviewer: What path did you take to working in stage management?

Kat: So I was really interested in theatre growing up and joined youth theatres and things. Then I went to university and studied performance studies and then I ended up working here at the Royal & Derngate while I was at university in front of house and on box office and I heard they needed someone to chaperone children on shows. So I said 'okay I'll give that a go' and I was interested in backstage stuff a little bit but I didn't know a huge amount of it and I'd actually never heard of stage management. So while I was doing that I spoke to the Stage Manager and she kind of said 'what are you interested in?' and I said 'I'm not really sure', she said 'do some work experience with us' and I did and I loved it. So then I went to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and did an MA master's in stage management.

Interviewer: Is there a best thing or a favourite thing that you love or a favourite aspect of your job?

Kat: I guess the variety. There's no two productions that are the same, no two groups of people the same. Even within the show, no two days are the same and so I really love that. Because I work freelance so I work all over the country. I really like that variety and also just constantly learning new things and about new things, yeah the variety.


What does a Deputy Stage Manager do?


So, this is my prompt copy which is the show's Bible, which is a script of the show. Then it has all cues in it, which at the moment because we're in technical rehearsals and they will move they're all on post-it notes, so that I can move them around. We also write down the blocking, so write down what everyone's doing at every point in the show.

So I will wear a headset in the show so I can speak to everybody, but also sometimes use cue lights. So for this, I have one for the Flies in case their headsets go down. So I would do that to tell them to stand by and then that to tell them to do their cue. I've got a microphone here to do announcements to back of house or to tell Actors to come to the stage or what we're up to.

Then up here I have a couple of screens because I can't always from where I'm sitting see everything that I need to do to cue. So I've got the monitor to get more of a front on view. Then this one is infrared. So if we go to blackout and I need to for instance wait for the Actors to be clear to bring the lights back up again. I can see when that is because I can see them on the infrared.

On this show, I'm actually operating the sound. This is my go button. So when I want a sound cue to start I press the Go button. This is the list of the sound cues. So that will be a list so I can see which sound cues are coming up so I can make sure I'm ready for the right one.


Find opportunites to help you get into stage management here.


Published: 27 March 2020

Image: Alex Brenner