duties of a stage manager


The majority of the content here is pulled from the "STAGE MANAGER" clauses of various Equity rulebooks, to compile a list of what are and are not commonly the duties of a stage manager (this is in no way definitive, as not all contracts have the same wording), it's just to give a general idea.

At the end I have added some of my own wisdom, which you will not find in any rule book.

Duties of a Stage Manager

  • The Stage Manager or Assistant Stage Manager shall be present in the rehearsal area and during all performances except in an emergency. The Theatre shall not require members of the Equity Stage Managerial staff to absent themselves from rehearsals or performances.
  • The Stage Manager or Assistant Stage Manager must be present on the deck or in communication from the booth with all backstage areas during all performances, run- throughs, technical rehearsals and dress rehearsals. Under no circumstances shall anyone other than the Stage Manager or Assistant Stage Manager be on book calling the cues of a production.
  • It is agreed that it is the duty of the Stage Manager to assemble and maintain the production script for the actual technical and artistic operation of the production and that the production script remains the property of the Theatre.

Duties of an Assistant Stage Manager

  • To monitor safety backstage and on stage, to check presets and supervise scene changes, and to assist and backup the Stage Manager.

NOT Duties of a Stage Manager

  • Handling contracts, having riders signed or initialed, or from fulfilling any other function which normally comes under the duties of the General Manager or Company Manager (which shall not preclude delivery of a sealed envelope addressed to the individual Actor).
  • Signing the closing notice of the Company or the individual notice of termination of an Actor's contract (which shall not preclude posting of any closing notice and other permanent company notices).
  • Making of payments or any distribution of salaries.
  • Doing janitorial, custodial or building maintenance work as part of their Stage Managerial duties including securing and locking the theatre following performances or technical rehearsals.
  • Maintaining lighting, sound or video equipment.
  • Design, build, hang, transport, operate, shift, run, shop for or maintain lights, sound, scenery, props, video, wardrobe, animals, etc.
  • Arrange living accommodations.
  • Order or distribute food for any members of the production.
  • Be responsible for any aspect of transportation or be responsible for the maintenance of any vehicle.
  • Be responsible for any aspect of laundry or dry cleaning.

They won't tell you in school, but the duties of a stage manager may include:

  • Striking panties that have been thrown onstage by adoring audience members.

Common Misconceptions

  • As implied by the rule against providing food for the company, it is not the job of the stage management team to provide coffee at rehearsal. It's just a nice thing to do, and most stage managers benefit from the presence of coffee as much, if not more than the actors. Mostly, though, it's just one of those things that not enough people have stood up and said, "That's not my job" about, and everyone assumes it is.
  • Stage management doesn't have to call half hour, places or anything else. It's a lot smarter to do so, rather than to trust everybody else to keep track of time. But if the calls aren't made, that doesn't mean it's not half hour, or that people shouldn't be ready to do their jobs by curtain time.