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Please help, answers needed to some SM based questions.

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I'm studying Drama in my second year at Exeter University, and am currently focussing on and researching into Stage Management, for a rather long essay I have to write. I am hoping to compare the different duties that Stage Managing entails, in relation to the type of theatre and production the Stage Manager is working in/for.

For this reason I would be eternally greatful if any Stage Managers out there could answer the following questions...


1) Was it your original intention to stage manage and have you worked in other technical departments, I.e lighting or sound, before stage managing?

2) How great is your knowlege of other technial theatre aspects?

3) What are the main positives and the main negatives of the job?

4) What, if any, are the major differences between working in different types of theatres, repertory theatres or Broadway/West End etc?

5) What, if any, are the major differences between working on an ametuer and a proffessional production?

6) What, if any, are the major differences between working on different types of performance, I.e musical, play, dance piece or concert?

7) What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome during your career, and how did you go about overcoming this problem?


It would be great if I could get a real variety of answers from Stage Managers everywhere, with as much detail as you have time to include, as this would really help me with my essay!!


Thanks so much,

Vicky Stickand.

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1) No, I never planned on being a stage manager. I distinctly remember telling someone at the end of my first year at drama school that I didn't like stage management as I "didn't have the temperament for it." I've worked extensively in the lighting area, done a fair amount of floor electrics work, have been known to haul on a flying line and occasionally worked in the sound department.

2) Varies from area to area: I'm an experienced lighting rigger/operator, very familiar with the Strand 500 series desks and can run a Hog at a pinch; I learnt to fly in a hemp house and am comfortable with counterweight systems (operation and loading), and if I have to run a sound desk I can, though I don't like mixing mics.

3) Positives: I love seeing a show through from day 1 to the end of the season; I get to work with a huge variety of people on a daily basis and no two days are ever the same. Negatives: I have to be tactful all the time! I also occasionally have to deal with idiot cast members who have no respect for me (yet listen to the male lighting operator when he asks them to do the same thing I've just asked them to do).

4) Can't really answer that one, as I've generally only worked for producing houses.

5) People's attitudes. I've often found with the amateurs, you have to be more lenient because people are there to enjoy themselves, it's not a job for them. Which is fair enough, to be honest!

6) Actors are very different to dancers who are very different to opera singers; you have to treat each group very differently. Opera singers can be quite demanding (not saying that actors and dancers aren't, but as a whole, I think the opera singers are more difficult) and I've met some extremely vague dancers who have to be babysat through the whole process, especially tech week!

7) A director who couldn't stand me (it was mutual!), didn't trust me and didn't respect me. I hid my dislike of her, worked harder than I think I've ever worked before, was extremely organised and did my best to read her mind so I knew what she wanted before she said it. Mostly I succeeded and the end result was a fantastic show and a cast who did respect and trust me.

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