Author Topic: JOB DESCRIPTION: Stage Management vs. Production Management  (Read 22538 times)

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Rosemary

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I was just asked by a small company to be their production manager for some upcoming shows.  I've worked with them informally before but can anyone explain the difference between a PM and a SM?
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 10:51 pm by PSMKay »

hbelden

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it's up to them
« Reply #1 on: Nov 19, 2005, 03:57 pm »
GET CLARIFICATION from the small company.  A PM at a small company does what the small company wants her/him to do, which may be very different from the "textbook" LORT staff position of "Production Manager"  

What do you mean by "small?"  To me, that means less than four people actually on staff; less than $1000 production budget, excluding pay; and everyone onstage getting at the most, a small stipend.  I'm assuming that no one is union, and that the company has been around for a few seasons (having some systems and vendors in place).

The people that hired you need to tell you what your responsibilities are.  Generally speaking, the Stage Manager is responsible for rehearsals and performances running smoothly, and the Production Manager is responsible for procuring all the things that the show needs to run smoothly.  For example, the PM finds the best deal for rehearsal hall and secures the rental contract for the rehearsal hall, then hands over the keys to the SM.  The SM opens the space and sets it up for rehearsal, then cleans up when the rehearsal is over and closes up the hall.  The SM reports to the PM.

The company may want to hold on to writing artist contracts and managing budget, which are usually under the PM's purview.  This is a big one to clarify.

Here's a starting list of items to check over with the company.
--Production Calendar (how do all the shows fit together? WHO HAS CONFLICTS?????)
--Artist agreements (do you know the name/info of everyone who's going to contribute talent to the shows?  WHO HAS CONFLICTS???)
--Production Budget (how much does the company have to spend to get the show on stage? do they have that money on hand?  How is it accessed?)
--Rehearsal space? (rental rules, shared space? space conflicts?)
--Production meetings?  (How do all the different contributors communicate, and is there a regular time for everyone to get together?)
--Transfer to stage? (staff to move show, load-in schedule and dates, tech schedule?)
--Performance space? (technical inventory? stage measurements? sight lines? structural limitations?)
--Close-out?  (strike schedule? storage space?  everyone paid & reimbursed? meetings?)

In any case, it's your job to get the show onstage.  You'll be most successful if you can understand the limitations you're working under and who actually has which decision-making power.

I'd like to recommend my favorite slim book as an introduction to project management, but I'm on vacation and can't remember the title.  I'll look it up when I get back home next week.
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Heath Belden

"I'm not good, I'm not nice, I'm just right." - Sondheim
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smccain

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JOB DESCRIPTION: Stage Management vs. Production Management
« Reply #2 on: Oct 17, 2006, 03:34 pm »
I have always wondered this. What is the difference between stage management and production managment? I have often thought of them as stage management would be one show, while production managment is overseeing multiple shows. What does everyone else see these two as?
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 11:51 pm by PSMKay »
Sean

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Re: Stage Management vs. Production Management
« Reply #3 on: Oct 17, 2006, 03:42 pm »
Production managers are over events or multiple shows while SM's are over a single show.
Derek A. Fuzzell

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Re: Stage Management vs. Production Management
« Reply #4 on: Oct 17, 2006, 04:00 pm »
Stage Managers are in the rehearsal hall, dealing with the actors and director, and taking notes for all production departments.  Stage Managers deal with scheduling of the rehearsal hall and communicating what happens in there to everyone else.

The Production Manager deals with all the production technical/design aspects - hires the designers and tech staff, does much of the coordination of load-in schedules, crew hiring...it varies from theatre to theatre, but the PM deals more with the full tech of everything.

This is the most basic of job descriptions, and how much crossover there is varies between theatres...and also who runs the production meeting varies at theatres whether it's the SM or PM.  In an Equity theatre, for on thing, the stage manager does not deal with payroll at all (other than a Resident Stage Manager over other stage management staff).

Erin

Ran

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Re: Stage Management vs. Production Management
« Reply #5 on: Oct 18, 2006, 03:08 am »
I agree with every word smejs just wrote.

More than that - in Europe there is also Production Stage Manager;

In Italy it is closer to a Production Manager job - just that it includes also the SM work.

As for Production Manager, in Germany and Austria is closer to what smejs wrote.

In a way it is being the middle man between the Artistic Team, the Directors Office and the Stage Crew.


all the best,

Ran
« Last Edit: Oct 18, 2006, 03:15 am by Ran »

ORTaurean

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Re: Stage Management vs. Production Management
« Reply #6 on: Oct 18, 2006, 03:01 pm »
I currently switch between both jobs at the theatre I'm working for now.  SM / PM/ SM/ PM - end of season.  It's killing me, I'm hoping to change their style next yeaar and be the PM all year and get one more really good SM.

Here's the VERY BASIC difference between my jobs (in Chicago):

SM
Schedule rehearsal
Rehearsal report
Production mtg notes
Communication Hub between rehearsal hall and company, designers, heads of depts.
Heavy actor contact
Run tech

PM (heavily influenced by SM skills)
Heavy designer contact (weekly & daily)
Run production meetings
work with SM to coordinate designer runs and tech
Attend tech, previews and opening
Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly.
-Rosiland Russell

BalletPSM

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Re: Stage Management vs. Production Management
« Reply #7 on: Oct 18, 2006, 05:18 pm »
America has production stage managers as well...there are a few of us on this boards that are living breathing (albeit barely, sometimes) proof.  =)

Even though the title is one job, I tend to think of it as two separate jobs (mostly to keep myself sane):

As production manager, I do all the scheduling for the company for the season, contracting, hiring of design staff (with AD's approval), hire running crew and ASMs (when necessary), create and keep track of all production budgets, coordinate load ins and outs, work with IATSE and the symphony, deal with the venue issues when we tour, etc., handle per diems and reimbursements, handle production payroll, etc.

As the stage manager, I am in all rehearsals (except initial staging rehearsals of rep pieces and rehearsals where they are going to be working a specific piece over and over), take rehearsal notes, communicate with designers and prod. staff any changes, updates, etc., do all the show's paperwork, run and call tech and dress rehearsals, call all performances.

Mostly it's nice that I do both because this way there is one go-to person for all the designers and production staff.  But, we are able to do that with the size of our company.  If we were any bigger or wer running multiple shows at the same time it would definitely need to be two separate people. 

Since we don't have a company manager, I also tend to do a lot of those duties as well -- making travel arrangements if necessary, serving as a liaison between the dancers and directors, travel arrangements, information packets, and picking up and chauffeuring guests artists and teachers around, etc.

Since we also don't have a facilities manager, a lot of those duties get wrapped up into the PM portion of my job as well -- dealing with broken HVAC systems, taking care of the studios and the studio equipment, etc.  (yikes!)

I think a good way to think of it is that the PM oversees all aspects of production, the SM oversees the production itself. 

Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

BalletPSM

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Re: Stage Management vs. Production Management
« Reply #8 on: Oct 18, 2006, 05:21 pm »
Some other threads with discussions on this topic:

http://smnetwork.org/forum/index.php?topic=790.0

Quite a lengthy discussion here:

http://smnetwork.org/forum/index.php?topic=931.0
Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

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