Onstage > Students and Novice Stage Managers

Shadowing: General Q&A

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Hello, I am a high school senior from St. Louis, and would like to pursue a career in theatre, and have been thinking seriously about stage management.  Someone recently told me that I can write a letter to the stage manager of a Broadway Tour and they will let you sit backstage with them during a performance. 
Does anyone have any suggestions about how to do this?  Or, has anyone ever done anything like this?  I think this would be a great experience for me to see what a "real" SM does, but am uncertain about how to ask.

I have done it since I was in college and continue to do it though I have been a professional SM for many years.  Its great for networking and you always learn something new.  I have shadowed at least 20 shows and have probably had half as many shadow me.

I find for tours the best thing to do is make a phone call.  Sometimes its takes talking to several people to get to the right voice mail.  What you want to do is reach someone at the stage door and ask for the stage management office.  Then just explain your situation and say that if possible you would like to shadow a member of the SM team.

Usually stage managers are more than happy to share what they do and when they say no it is probably due to a management rule.

Hey there!  Be sure to stop by the introductions forum to introduce yourself to the group.   :)

I am from St. Louis as well, and although I never shadowed a stage manager at, say, the Fox Theater downtown, I did sit in the booth with several stage managers during performances at the Repertory Theater of St. Louis.  If you contact either of these organizations and ask, they may be able to help you . . . the worst they can do is say no.

It's interesting...  the show I'm on now, the PSM commented that he was surprised he hadn't gotten more requests from people to come and shadow... 
And yes, a lot of PSM's of tours would be happy to let you come watch the call.  Sometimes circumstances don't make it possible (limited space? quick change issues?) but most will want to try to make it happen.  You can send or drop off a letter at the stage door with your contact info (including email address).  Be sure to have it sound professional: Your first sentence here is good; "I think it would be *totally awesome* to watch your show" ... is not so good.  And once you are there, don't be afraid to ask questions.

Don't limit yourself to just tours...  contact local professional theatres (I can only think of the MUNY, but I'm sure there are others in St. Louis).  Also ask about sitting in on rehearsals and/or tech. 
Most SM's will be happy to share their knowledge with you, because that's how most of us got started ourselves, and it's like a chance to repay the karmic debt.

I had never heard of this before until I read about it last week. So tonight after I saw a show I asked the PSM if I could "shadow" him. He said yes and made my day. Bad thing is that January 5th is the last show of the season. The show opens back up in March. I am really busy right now, but I hope to get some time to take hold of this fantastic opportunity. Thanks for introducing me to this.! You really can learn something new every day!


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