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Introductions / Re: Excited to be here!
« Last post by Maribeth on Nov 25, 2020, 06:54 am »
Welcome, Holly!
Introductions / Re: Excited to be here!
« Last post by VSM on Nov 24, 2020, 02:39 pm »
Welcome Aboard!
Introductions / Excited to be here!
« Last post by hollyxbeth on Nov 23, 2020, 04:22 pm »
Hi! My name is Holly and I'm a stage manager from the UK. I'm in my final year of university studying Film and Theatre Production, where I am specialising in stage management. I have loved theatre, particularly musicals from a young age, and since being introduced to the role of stage manager I just knew its what I want to do when I graduate! I'm currently working as DSM on three different productions within my uni, so its all fun and games at the moment, but I'm loving every second, and I am just so excited to be a part of this community! ;D
Hey peeps! I've heard from the legendary Lawrence Stern again about the upcoming publication of the 12th edition of "Stage Management." SMNetwork has been mentioned in many previous editions of the book and will be mentioned again in the next version. Mr. Stern has some questions for us, the answers to which may be included in the book:

1. What are you doing during the coronavirus pandemic to improve your SM skills and/or improve your chances of being hired when theatres reopen?  We'd like to list the top ten most popular strategies (thinking that even when the pandemic is history, many SMs will experience periods of "at liberty" when they can apply those strategies).

2. Are you a cartoonist?  Would you like to see your cartoon about stage managers, backstage work, or theatre in the 12th edition of Stage Management?  Please send your cartoon to  If we print your cartoon, you will receive a comp copy of the 12th edition.

EDIT: Deadline is 31 Dec 2020. Lawrence has been linked to this thread for answers to #1.
Students and Novice Stage Managers / Stage Managing as an Actor
« Last post by ccasper on Oct 15, 2020, 11:58 pm »

I have been primarily on actor all of my life, but as of recent, I have begun branching out and discovering new areas of theatre I hadn’t otherwise thought of pursuing. Stage Managing has been my main interest apart from acting, and I am looking for advice from any stage managers who also act.

I am wondering how I can pursue acting while balancing learning how to stage manage. With my main focus being acting, I still want to be cast in productions, but I also want to have enough opportunities as an ASM/SM. How would I go about making sure I can equal out continuing to act while also gaining enough experience as a stage manager?

Thinking futuristically, is there a way to be both a professional actor and stage manager? I realize both are huge commitments, but will I eventually have to choose one field over the other? And is pursuing another side of theatre even beneficial if I know acting is ultimately my priority?

I realize these are a lot of questions, so thank you in advance, but I would love for anyone who has pursued both acting and stage managing to speak on their experience. Much appreciated!
Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: Perfectionism
« Last post by Maribeth on Oct 15, 2020, 06:36 pm »
There's a really relevant article on HowlRound about this. "Hold, Please - Addressing Urgency and Other White Supremacist Standards In Stage Management." I particularly like the viewpoint of this paragraph,
One antidote to this mindset is focusing on completion, not competition—a mantra passed down by stage manager Deb Acquavella. Each member of the stage management team is working to achieve the same goal of a safe and smooth production. Having multiple points of view and avenues to turn to for information doesn’t reduce this goal but rather expands it. If an ASM knows an answer right off the bat, why wait for the PSM to dredge up the information just because they’re the designated one voice? We need to stop viewing the ASM as working below the PSM and instead put value on each person’s unique duties and expertise. We then become a collaborative team where everyone is valued for their contribution, rather than bolstering egos.

I struggle with delegating sometimes, as someone who often worked as a one-person SM team. I'm used to doing things myself and sometimes it's hard to let things go. One thing I've found helpful is to think of the stage management team as a whole unit, rather than the SM/PSM as one person, and all the ASMs as extensions of them. An ASM and a PSM are doing different jobs, and likely have different skillsets. Your team will accomplish a lot more as a whole if everyone is contributing, rather than the PSM taking on all important tasks.

It's worth considering the idea of what doing things "right" means. Is it "right" because that is how you would do it? Or does it need to be a certain way for a particular reason? If something has to be a particular way for a certain reason, like fitting requests have to use XYZ format because that's what the costume shop requires, that's one thing. But if an ASM makes their prop list in landscape orientation instead of portrait, maybe that's an individual preference that is not a problem- even if it's not how you would do it.

You can also experiment with laying out some expectations clearly in advance. For example, if you delegate prop tracking duties to an ASM, it's reasonable to ask for a current copy of the props preset at certain intervals (weekly, whenever there's a new copy, at the beginning of tech, etc). It gives you the chance to assess how things are going and make adjustments if needed.

Educational/college theater is supposed to be a place to learn, so it's inevitable that people are going to make mistakes. (That's not limited to college, but it's certainly true there.) So it's worth considering what happens when mistakes are made. How do you address it? What steps do you implement to prevent it from recurring? I can tell you a lot of mistakes that I've made (both in and out of college) and I wouldn't have grown as a stage manager (and as a person) if I hadn't been allowed to make them.

It's great to have a system for checking in with your team, like a daily touch-base at the top or end of the day, which can really help in terms of managing everyone's workload, and can also provide a forum for making adjustments if someone needs help. Sitting down for longer meetings before major events like first rehearsal, move to stage, etc can be really helpful for setting expectations for the next stage of the process and keeping the team on the same page.
Try some different areas and see what you like! One of the best ways to learn stage management is through experience. Can you see if there are any crew positions available for upcoming shows at your school? I realize things might be a little different in the current, mostly-digital time we live in, but if your school has open crew positions, running crew is a great way to see stage managers in action. Being an ASM is also a great way to learn stage management, and often in an educational setting you might get paired with a stage management team that has experience they can share with you.

You might also find that there's an area of theater that has some overlap with engineering. (Scenic design? Lighting technician?) Having experience in a wide variety of theatrical disciplines can be a real benefit to a stage manager's toolkit, as it gives you a shared knowledge of what other departments do and what language they use to do it. The more you know about what other people do, the better prepared you are to work and collaborate with them.
I loved watching your Q&A! Super cool! I am taking a stage management class at my college right now just for fun (I am more into the acting, playwriting, directing side of theatre). What more advice do you have about getting to the Broadway level? How did you get to where you are?

I am a college student and I recently switched from an engineering minor to a theatre minor. I have never really participated in anything theatre related, and I really don't have much experience with anything. I am not interested in the acting side of things as I prefer to be more behind the stage. For the longest time I thought that engineering was a great fit for me but lately I just lost my passion for it, and I couldn't go any further into the minor.

Does anyone have advice on how to apply what I learned through engineering to stage management? How do you find what area of theater you are best suited for?

Students and Novice Stage Managers / Re: Perfectionism
« Last post by adam.chamness on Oct 15, 2020, 01:44 pm »
Although I am not very versed in stage management, I can say that I have a lot of experience with being a perfectionist in a collaborative work environment. In the past when I've been in positions in which I have more experience and authority than some of those working with me (similar to the relationship between an SM and ASMs), I have also found it difficult to give jobs to people for fear of having the jobs completed inadequately without my supervision. One of the biggest things I've done to overcome this is that I've made it very clear to those that I am working with that if they have any questions about anything, or perhaps need directions repeated, or require a more detailed explanation of something, they can always come to me. It doesn't completely reduce my anxiety that some jobs will still be done incorrectly, but it does provide me some comfort in knowing that they will be less likely to attempt something they don't know how to do, which significantly reduces the potential for things to be done incorrectly. The only problem with this is that I become busier than I would otherwise be, since I have to take the time to answer questions and re-explain things. However, since I was already of the mindset that I may as well do everyone's work myself, I am by comparison much less busy than I could be. It also gives those I'm working with an opportunity to learn and improve more efficiently rather than through trial and error. Things will get done correctly the first time, though at a bit of a slower rate. In the future though, these same people will be very unlikely to make the same mistake again. So in the long run, it's a much more efficient process, I would say. I can't be certain that this will work with ASMs, nor can I guarantee that they will have the humility to come to you with their questions (some people just won't ask for help when they need it), but it's certainly a start.

I'm sorry I couldn't provide a more specific suggestion, but I hope this helps at least a little bit!
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