What does an Assistant Stage Manager do?

An Assistant Stage Manager (ASM) plays a pivotal role under the guidance of the Stage Manager, providing support during both rehearsals and performances. The specific duties of an ASM can vary based on factors like the scale and complexity of the production. Typically, ASMs are responsible for meticulously documenting various aspects of rehearsals, such as tracking cast entrances and exits and noting props mentioned in the script. Collaborating closely with the Stage Manager, they assist in sourcing or creating props and set dressing according to the Designer's specifications.

During the "get-in" and "get-out" phases of production, ASMs help organising set dressing and props, ensuring everything is in place for rehearsals and performances and then sold or returned at the end. Prior to each performance, ASMs conduct a thorough "shout check" with the Stage Manager to confirm that all props are correctly positioned and ready for use. 

Throughout tech rehearsals and live shows, they operate behind the scenes, facilitating the smooth movement of sets and ensuring actors have necessary props and support. Additionally, they maintain communication with the technical team and the Deputy Stage Manager via comms systems, facilitating seamless coordination between all departments for the duration of the show.

What are the main responsibilities of an Assistant Stage Manager?

  • Assist in setting up the rehearsal space, including arranging props, furniture, and other equipment as directed by the Stage Manager
  • Provide support to actors and the creative team during rehearsals, including helping with costume changes, distributing scripts, and managing props
  • Take detailed notes during rehearsals, recording blocking (actor movements), technical cues, and other important information as directed by the Stage Manager
  • Relay information between the Stage Manager and other members of the production team, ensuring that everyone is informed of any changes or updates
  • Assist with technical rehearsals, helping to coordinate cues and transitions between scenes, as well as assisting with any technical elements as needed
  • Help maintain and organise props, ensuring they are in the correct place and in good condition for rehearsals and performances
  • Assist with setting up the backstage area before performances, including organising props, costumes, and other backstage elements
  • During performances, assist in managing the backstage area, ensuring that actors and crew are in place and ready for their cues
  • Assist actors with quick changes backstage, ensuring that costumes are properly prepared and ready for each scene
  • Help with costume maintenance, including laundering costumes between performances and making any necessary repairs
  • Run errands as needed, such as picking up supplies or delivering messages between the Stage Manager and other members of the production team
  • Be prepared to assist with various tasks and responsibilities as they arise, providing support wherever needed to ensure the smooth running of the production

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What qualifications do I need to be an Assistant Stage Manager?

You do not need any formal qualifications to become a ASM, however any qualifications in the following areas would be beneficial:

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

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What skills do I need to be an Assistant Stage Manager?

  • Ability to manage multiple tasks and keep track of details in a fast-paced environment
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills to effectively relay information between the Stage Manager and other team members
  • Collaborative attitude and willingness to work closely with the Stage Manager, actors, and production team
  • Quick thinking and resourcefulness to address any issues or challenges that arise during rehearsals or performances
  • Meticulous in following cues and instructions to ensure the accuracy and consistency of each performance
  • Adaptability to work evenings, weekends, and irregular hours during tech rehearsals and performances

What does a career in assistant stage management look like?

Specialised training or coursework in stage management offers practical skills and knowledge specific to the role of an ASM, including rehearsal techniques, prop management, and backstage operations. Hands-on experience working in theatre productions, either through internships, apprenticeships, or entry-level roles, provides valuable insight into the day-to-day responsibilities of an ASM and helps develop essential skills.

How much does an Assistant Stage Manager earn?

Equity 2024/2025 rates for an ASM are £501.28 per week. An average yearly salary for ASM can range from £18k - £25k per year. 

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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