Author Topic: Writing a Stage Management Handbook - Suggestions?  (Read 15947 times)

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Writing a Stage Management Handbook - Suggestions?
« on: Nov 15, 2008, 07:25 pm »
As my final project for high school drama class, my stage managing partner and I are attempting to write a SMing handbook.  This will cover the entire process, from distributing scripts to strike.  This is quite a daunting task, and while we have the basics covered, we are looking for suggestions.

What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?  Have you learned any habits, strategies, or tricks that make a certain task easier?  What should you always carry on you (keep in mind, this is high school, so no knives)?  Has someone told you a phrase/anecdote that has stuck with you?

Thanks very much!
ASM - Scapino!, winter 2006/7
Spot Op - Evita, spring 2007
SM - Crawling Arnold, spring 2007
Sound Board Op - Romeo & Juliet, fall 2007
SM - The Beggar's Opera, winter 2007/8
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SM - Macbeth, fall 2008
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Re: Writing a Stage Management Handbook - Suggestions?
« Reply #1 on: Nov 15, 2008, 11:09 pm »
You must keep lists of everything. To-do items, reminders, contact directories, etc... Then when you think you've got all the lists done, you'll create one or two more. Don't get behind on maintaining your lists.


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Re: Writing a Stage Management Handbook - Suggestions?
« Reply #2 on: Nov 16, 2008, 12:24 am »
agreed on the lists.  also, don't be afraid to send follow up emails/make extra phone calls/confirm everything in person, because the extra hassle on everyone's parts will make it all smoother in the long run.

and at the risk of sounding foolish, lefty loosey righty tighty.  You wouldn't believe how many times people forget that and then wonder why their set piece/sidearm/etc etc isn't getting any easier to work with. :-[
[The SM is] a very gifted, slightly eccentric master mechanic [keeping] a cantankerous, highly complex machine running at top efficiency by talking to it, soothing it, & lovingly fixing whatever is broken. 
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Re: Writing a Stage Management Handbook - Suggestions?
« Reply #3 on: Nov 17, 2008, 12:11 pm »
Did the same for my final thesis.  It is a daunting thing to start (which led to way to much procrastination).  I eventually started by trying to break it into managable bits (pre audition, audition, rehearsal, hell week, run) and listing what I wanted to deal with in each.  Any forms that you use, I would include.  Examples of everything you discuss (audition notice, prompt book, call sheets, line notes, etc).  Job duties of not just the SM, but ASMs, major production personnel, various crew positions, etc. 

Bit by bit I ended up with something like 65 pages, which seemed just about right-not too much doctrine that would stop someone from developing their own style, but enough to point them at thing they needed to handle. 

I also took the emergency procedures (medical, fire, weather, power outage) and included them on bright green paper with large text.  It even included the announcement for various issues to simplify the process.

Not in the industry professionally, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but feel free to PM me for specifics on what I threw in mine.

Robert Cott

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Re: Writing a Stage Management Handbook - Suggestions?
« Reply #4 on: Apr 16, 2015, 09:23 pm »
I am working on the same thing (not as a class, but more for fun.) I would make it specific to your school so that future stage managers can not only use your handbook not only as a how to do certain tasks but also where to go for what. Of course you can be as detailed as you want/see fit. As others have said, break it into sections. Pre-production, auditions, first rehearsals, etc. Have examples of paper work for each section. You don't want to make it too long where it is overwhelming for a new stage manager to read, but at the same time you want it to be helpful to them.