Author Topic: Ideas for creative student essays (Mods - do not archive)  (Read 3553 times)

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So we've spent lots of time discussing how the typical student essays topics are way overdone. After 13 years of SMNetwork we're tired of seeing the same questions over and over again. Students, I know that it's all new for you, but for those of us who use the site regularly and have made careers of stage management, we get nothing back anymore from answering beginner level questions. (Besides, we've covered most of that ground before. Heavily.)

I can't be the only one who wishes that there was some more advanced research going on to further the industry as a whole.

In the interest of helping students to choose projects that are not only academically successful but also useful to the community, I thought it might be good to have a collection of topics that the pros would like to see answered. Maybe we could even turn some of those topics into discussion threads. It might help students to get an idea of the type of questions we do like to see around here.

Here are a few to get us started:
  • What types of extra training do professionals find necessary, and how often do they use that training on the job? (Think: First aid, CPR, Fire Guard certs, CDL license, etc.)
  • From a statistical standpoint, which of the unions offers the best protection for stage managers?
  • What are the cultural and political environments that lead to the development of a strong non-union or union community in a city?
  • How do stage managers market themselves? Are there specific networking styles or activities that are more successful than others?
  • Is there a common Myers-Briggs or Jungian personality type that makes for a better stage manager?
  • What are the primary factors that lead stage managers to burn out or leave the industry?
  • Is focusing on commercial entertainment really "selling out"? In other words, is there a major difference in income and quality of life between someone who chooses to do pop art vs high art?
  • Why are there so few female stage managers working at the uppermost levels of commercial theatre?
  • What are the long-term psychological effects that could occur from decades of sustained altruism and long hours in darkened rooms? What sort of preventive measures should a stage manager take to remain healthy despite the demands of the job?
  • Obtain a copy of the 1st edition (1974) and the most recent edition of Stern's "Stage Management." Compare the two editions and talk with stage managers who have been at it for several decades to form a clear picture of how the industry has changed over the past 40 years.
  • How often do stage managers really have to deal with major backstage emergencies? How often do we really have to stop the show or use our many, many backup plans?
Feel free to leave your own ideas here.
« Last Edit: Apr 30, 2013, 11:10 pm by PSMKay »


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Re: Ideas for creative student essays
« Reply #1 on: Apr 17, 2013, 03:08 am »
These are a little wordier:

- Besides obtaining credentials like CPR and First Aid, many stage managers find it immensely beneficial to explore more loosely-defined areas of training: soft skills like cookery, computer programming, musical training, working with animals or children, etc. What are the soft skills you think stage managers would find most beneficial? How do these relate to the job and responsibilities of stage managers? How might these skills increase or decrease in importance in the medium-term future? (Do you have any soft skills you anticipate will prove especially helpful in your own career?)

- One of the biggest challenges facing stage managers is the need to set and maintain healthy boundaries. In addition to problems related to work/life balance, a common difficulty is finding ourselves acting as "cast therapist": not just kissing proverbial boo-boos and providing reassurance, but taking on responsibility for the psychological well-being of cast members--a responsibility for which we aren't qualified, a responsibility which distracts from our other duties, and a situation which may put us into conflicts of interest or inappropriately personal encounters with coworkers. How do effective stage managers strike the balance between taking an interest in the emotional lives of cast members without taking on inappropriate amounts or types of responsibility?

- Thinking about your own tastes and preferences, what do you feel is the ideal relationship between a stage manager and her company? Do you think the stage manager needs to "get her hands dirty", doing all the exercises and warm-ups with the cast, involved in creative processes as an equal participant? Or do you think the stage manager belongs firmly behind the rehearsal table, always at the director's right hand, emphasizing distance and perfect-posture professionalism? Now for the key question: why?

- Despite declining audiences industry-wide, those companies which focus on the needs of specific communities (minority languages, the LGBT community, women, aboriginals, etc.) are doing relatively well. How is working on a show targeted at a specific community different from working in "classical" or "mainstream" theatre? Think of a community of which you aren't a member: if you were asked to stage manage a devised piece for this community, what resources might you tap into, or what might you do differently?
« Last Edit: Apr 17, 2013, 03:12 am by On_Headset »


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