Stage manager
Drama, Dance & Music

Stage managers assist the director, designer, cast and the rest of the artistic team by making sure that rehearsals and performances run smoothly. They also check that all the other elements, such as lighting, costumes and scenery are co-ordinated.

Work Activities

Stage managers usually start off as an assistant and then take on more responsibility as they progress in their career.

Assistant stage managers (ASMs) get hold of and prepare props, arrange costume fittings, deal with scene changes and remind actors about rehearsal times. ASMs may also be asked to operate sound and other technical equipment. An ASM can progress to the more responsible position of deputy stage manager (DSM). The DSM is present at the rehearsal room, when the director is working with the actors, and notes any script changes and records the actions of actors.

This information is used to co-ordinate sound effects and scene and lighting changes. In large theatres, this may involve working in a control box and using an intercom to communicate with lighting and sound technicians.

The DSM calls actors/actresses for rehearsals and costume fittings. During the performance, the DSM prompts actors/actresses and cues lighting, sound and technical stage effects. Both the ASM and DSM are answerable to the stage manager (SM), who is ultimately responsible for the smooth co-ordination of the performance. The work of the SM is essentially people management. They organise actors and actresses, pass on requests from the director and liaise with production managers.

In small touring theatre companies, SMs may also drive, load and unload trucks and set up equipment.

In some theatres, such as those in the West End, there is a company stage manager who is senior to the stage manager.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of stage managers: Employers include receiving houses (theatres where new shows are brought in each week); producing theatres; commercial touring production companies; small-scale productions and Theatre in Education (TIE) companies. Other employment is with production firms that arrange corporate events. Opportunities for stage managers occur in major theatre production centres such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh as well as abroad with touring productions.

Many stage managers work on a self-employed, freelance basis.


Entry requirements will vary for each course so it is important to check with individual drama schools for details.

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