Author Topic: Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager  (Read 7977 times)

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TheatreDino

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Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager
« on: Apr 19, 2015, 10:25 am »
Recently, I was speaking to my course coordinator about jobs you can get after you've finished your career as a stage manager. I know that jobs in stage management don't last particularly long, I was told around 10-15 years.

I'm wondering if anyone here wants to give an insight about their plans for employment later on in life.

(I've only just begun my journey as a professional stage manager, but I find the idea of jobs that still fall under the umbrella of 'stage management' really fascinating!)

iamchristuffin

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Re: Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager
« Reply #1 on: Apr 19, 2015, 10:47 am »
I'm afraid I would disagree with your premise. I know many people who have been in Stage Management for 30+ years, and at this point in time I plan to be one of them myself!

However, I agree that a lot of people choose to leave SMgt for a variety of reasons - hours, low pay, lack of family time, unstable income/schedule etc.

If, for whatever reason, I don't stay specifically in SMgt, I think I would hope to move either to Company Management, Events Management, or Corporate/Event Showcalling.

workinhard853

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Re: Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager
« Reply #2 on: Apr 19, 2015, 12:25 pm »
I am hoping to stay a Stage Manager as long as I can, however once I decide I want to slow down I am planning on getting into the event planning industry. It is almost like SMing but you get a little more of the creative side and you don't have to do the same 'show' over and over.

Branden

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Re: Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager
« Reply #3 on: Apr 19, 2015, 08:54 pm »
I know a lot of folks who will use there skills as a SM to settle down as a receptionist. I've even picked up a few 'front desk' type jobs myself.

Lots of folks stay in Stage Management for their entire career. Lots of folks also shift into a role as a Producer, Business Manager, or Production Manager too. Just depends on the person.
Branden Scott Stewart

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Gaby

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Re: Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager
« Reply #4 on: Apr 20, 2015, 12:25 am »
I just recently met an SM who became an accountant after 15+ years of SMing. She left because she needed more stability and wanted a job that had just as much paperwork, but like half the stress. (also is just a really big fan of numbers)

PSMKay

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Re: Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager
« Reply #5 on: Apr 20, 2015, 02:49 am »
I really enjoyed my time as an apartment agent and then as a real estate agent after leaving stage management. There's quite a bit the two have in common. Both require calm and even personalities, excellent time management skills, and an ability to deal with fussy people who think they are the center of the earth in high stress situations. Both require an ability to properly set the stage for persuasion. Both have non-traditional schedules, a constantly shifting group of people, and a feast or famine sort of income. In both cases, you're dealing with people when their masks are off.

There is very little difference between a showing and a show, it's just that the former is over far faster. Think 10 or more tiny improvised performances in a day instead of one or two big scripted ones.

However, as an agent the wages were far higher, the interaction with unpleasant people could be minimized in ways that I could control, and I got to rove about the city during daylight hours and poke about in other people's homes. In rental I was seeing anywhere from 40 to 80% of the first month's rent as take home, and in sales it was about 1.5% of the sale price of a house.

If you don't like the networking and self-promotion that comes with freelance theatre you will NOT enjoy real estate, as that aspect of it is constant. You need to keep in contact with your customers and set time aside every day for developing new leads. It isn't as much of a cutthroat hard sell as you see in "Glengarry Glen Ross" anymore, but you do still have to self-promote constantly. You will deal with a ton of rejection, both of you and your product. Real estate attracts a lot of politically & fiscally conservative folks, so if you can't stand being in a pro-life, right wing, gun-toting office you might want to look elsewhere.

There's also lots of support careers in the real estate industry that might serve. Mortage brokers & bankers, legal & paralegal, property management, condo association management, moving companies, home inspectors and title companies are all involved and share chunks of the stage management skillset.

MatthewShiner

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Re: Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager
« Reply #6 on: Apr 20, 2015, 03:16 am »
I have been stage managing for 27 years, and plan to do so until I retire.

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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

RuthNY

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Re: Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager
« Reply #7 on: Apr 20, 2015, 08:57 am »
32 years as a Equity member Stage Manager, and 5 additional Non-Equity years prior to that. And like Matthew, I have no current plans to make a change,
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KMC

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Re: Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager
« Reply #8 on: Apr 20, 2015, 01:52 pm »
Like Chris, I disagree with the premise.  Several folks who post here regularly (two have already posted on this thread) have long and successful careers as stage managers. 

In general though, I'd not stress too much on specifics of employment 15 years out.  I have a BFA in Stage Management, and had exactly one contract as a professional stage manager after graduating before changing.  I certainly didn't plan it that way, but that's what happened.  When I was in school I had never considered working on cruise ships as a stage manager, then I did.  When I was on ships I had no plans to move out of stage management or move to Miami; then I got an opportunity I couldn't pass up, stopped stage managing, and moved to Miami to work for a cruise line.  When I moved to Miami I had no plans to shift to the side of the industry I'm in now; then I did. 

If you had asked me in 2005 what my ten-year plan was I'd have told you it was stage managing professionally either in New York or Las Vegas.  Fast forward to 2015, and it'll be nine years this summer since I've called a cue.  The point I'm trying to make is that circumstances change, opportunities that you had never considered present themselves, priorities change.  Nobody has a crystal ball, so don't mentally lock yourself in to any one career trajectory.

To answer your question specifically - Project Management is, in many ways, a very natural shift for a stage manager.  In general, projects have a defined beginning and a defined end, with set objectives along the way, and one person who is the glue that brings all aspects of a team together - sound familiar?  My job has reasonable hours, I don't have to work too many weekends, and the compensation is, in general, markedly better than theatre.  A sad truth, but a truth nonetheless.



Get action. Do things; be sane; donít fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

nick_tochelli

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Re: Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager
« Reply #9 on: Apr 20, 2015, 02:29 pm »
My career tuckered out around 10 years but had much more to do with an Impending Rupture of the Belly (favorite way to say wife was pregnant) than wanting to quit stage managing. I didn't have much of a choice for all the reasons you're used to hearing from someone out of the race.

As for jobs after...who knows...everyone has a certain and unique skill set that could allow them to be a sales associate, real estate agent, CPA, carpenter, plumber, business owner and everything in between. I happened to have retail experience so I chose sales tangentially associated to theater. I could just as easily started a business. You have to find what interests you to truly know the answer to this question.

MatthewShiner

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Re: Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager
« Reply #10 on: Apr 20, 2015, 06:46 pm »
There are two ways to take this thread . . .

What to do after stage management?

How does one stay in stage management long term?

The answer to the first question is ANYTHING.  Depending on your personal interests, your time as a stage manager will develop huge amount of skills, that with the right spin, could be an asset to almost any field.  There are some things that are more a direct line - project management, production management, general management, theater admin, etc - but really the world is your oyster.

As far as staying in stage management - that's more complicated, and perhaps better suited for an post not 15 minutes before curtain - but it's about longevity, thinking long term, making personal sacrifices, being educated, selling yourself, running yourself like a small business.  But more on that later . . .
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

DeeCap

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Re: Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager
« Reply #11 on: Apr 21, 2015, 10:13 am »

Going on twenty years as a stage manager, sixteen years as an Equity stage manager.  I can't say that I'm doing it full time, I'm more of a "dabbler" (Is that a word?) I try to do a show here and there, but I'm not completely out of the industry.

As for what to do after stage managing, the sky is the limit. The skills you acquire stage managing can take you into a variety of places.
I found that I enjoyed the mentoring side of the job, so I've been attempting to be a full time teacher. Emphasis on attempting.

mkristinect

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Re: Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2015, 02:24 am »
So at the risk of straying off topic, what sort of tactics do you use when trying to sell your stage management background to an outside-industry professional?  In general I feel like the skills I'm developing are the most valuable and most transferable of any job I've ever had, so naturally that's what I focus on in interviews.  But in a world where job title is paramount, sometimes I feel like they hear (read) "stage manager" and tune me right out simply because it's a foreign concept.

SMrose

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Re: Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager
« Reply #13 on: Jun 01, 2015, 02:36 pm »
A stage manager is a leader and servant-leader. SM's are great team-players. Some skills that come to mind are organization, excellent communication skills and meeting deadlines (curtain's at 8 people, no if's and's or but's). SM's are great motivators, listeners and problem solvers.

These are the points I would put in my cover letter; explain what skills I have developed and use before an employer reads "stage manager" on my resume and doesn't know what that entails.

KMC

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Re: Employment after a Career as a Stage Manager
« Reply #14 on: Jun 01, 2015, 02:53 pm »
So at the risk of straying off topic, what sort of tactics do you use when trying to sell your stage management background to an outside-industry professional?  In general I feel like the skills I'm developing are the most valuable and most transferable of any job I've ever had, so naturally that's what I focus on in interviews.  But in a world where job title is paramount, sometimes I feel like they hear (read) "stage manager" and tune me right out simply because it's a foreign concept.


I think it depends what industry you're targeting.  If you're targeting something tangentially related to theatre they're goint to have a good idea of what a theatrical Stage Manager does and what skills those types of people  have (and if they don't fully understand, they should at least have a foundation and be receptive to detail). 

If you're targetting something more traditional, you may consider looking at  recruiters or headhunters.  They get paid per placement, so they have a vested interest in learning about their candidates.  Once they learn what your base skills and talents are, they'll actively sell your skills to employers and recommend some areas you might be a good fit for.  Recruiters have existing relationships with companies, so you get over the hump of having to cold call or send resumes on your own. 

I'm not suggesting leaving your search entirely in the hands of a recruiter, but they can be a strong asset in finding something that matches your skills and interests.

Get action. Do things; be sane; donít fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt