What does a Stage Manager do?

A Stage Manager (SM) supports and organises all the different teams involved in the day-to-day running of a theatre production from rehearsals right through to performances and then post-show. They liaise and communicate with the full company and organise each team to ensure the smooth running of a production. During a show, they are in charge of everything and everyone on the stage. See the difference between stage management and production management by reading our blog 'What does a theatre Production Manager do?' 

What are the main responsibilities of a Stage Manager?

  • Create and set up rehearsal schedules
  • Use a ground plan to mark up a rehearsal room (mark the floor with tape to show where set, treads and platforms will be on stage)
  • Attend production meetings 
  • Managing the furniture and props used in a production 
  • Arrange costume and wig fittings
  • Liaise with all theatre departments and collate information
  • Liaise with Production Manager regarding budgets
  • Supervise the ‘get in’ and ‘get out’ (When the set, lighting and sound are installed and removed from the space)
  • Create a prompt script compiled with notes on Actors’ cues and requirements for props, lighting and sound
  • Make alterations to the set and props between scene changes
  • Run technical rehearsals 
  • Create a risk assessment to ensure the safety of the full company
  • Run fight calls 
  • Manage the backstage and onstage area during performances
  • Call Actors for rehearsals and performances
  • Maintain props, furniture and set during the run
  • Liaise with resident staff (if touring)

Search stage management opportunities from across the theatre industry here

What qualifications do I need to be a Stage Manager?

There are no specific qualifications required to become a SM. People with the right skills can get into the field, however it can be useful to have training in any of the following subjects:

  • Stage Management
  • Technical Theatre
  • Drama and Theatre Studies
  • Music
  • Performing Arts
  • Theatre Production

What skills do I need to be a Stage Manager?

  • High standard of organisational and communication skills
  • Computer skills and understanding of current technology
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • A sharp eye for detail
  • Problem-solving skills, ability to think on your feet
  • Negotiation skills, confidence and decision-making abilities
  • Budgeting skills
  • Creativity when prop making 
  • Good researching skills when sourcing props 
  • Confidence when running technical rehearsals 
  • Knowledge of health and safety regulations  
  • Good judgement of safety precautions 

What does a career in stage management look like?

You can start in an entry level position which would be Backstage Crew, casual Technician or an Assistant Stage Manager. You can also work as a Deputy Stage Manager. After gaining experience you can move on to Stage Manager, and in larger theatres Company Stage Manager. 

How much can I earn?

For a freelance Stage Manager, ITC/Equity rates of pay for 2024-2026 suggest a minimum weekly rate of £573 or a daily rate of £126. Travel, accommodation and meals all have additional rates, if you are on tour. UK Theatre / Equity Commercial Theatre Agreement rates for 2023-2024 for shows that are 8 weeks plus and performing to 1,500 seats plus, suggest a weekly minimum of £695.11 for rehearsals and £815.08 for shows.  

The above is a guide. Pay, salary or fee can vary depending on the theatre or company, as well as your personal experience. National institutions or commercial productions can pay in excess of the above, with profit-share or community theatre paying less. 

You can find theatre jobs via The Stage Jobs here 


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