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Stage/Back stage Manager

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Stage Manager and Back Stage Manager are the same thing in theatre. Actually, I've never used Back Stage Manager in a theatre context.


Bunging Stage Manager into Google (cos I'm too lazy to write something myself) through up this which, given it does not come from a theatre web site, is actually quite a good general job description. The actual job varies quite a bit depending on the size of the company you're working for and what other staff are employed.

Here it is in full:

SM Job description


Organises and co-ordinates rehearsals and performances, and liaises between the director and the technical staff.


The stage manager leads a team usually comprising a deputy stage manager (DSM) and one or more assistant stage managers (ASM), though in small companies/touring theatre, the stage manager may handle all areas of the production. 


Together, the stage management team organises the production environment. They ensure the availability of rehearsal space, conduct rehearsals, supervise getting in and out of a venue, and ensure props and equipment are available and maintained. They also gather, record and disseminate production information to other theatre departments. 

Typical work activities


The stage manager, with the director, prepares the rehearsal schedule and production schedule and liaises with technical departments (costume, props,  lighting, sound etc). During a run, in the director's absence, they may also call extra rehearsals to keep the performance up to scratch. The stage manager also supervises the 'get in' to the theatre, when the set, lighting and sound etc is installed, and the 'get out', when all the equipment is removed. 


The deputy stage manager (DSM) conducts rehearsals, and holds the prompt book, noting changes to dialogue, moves, and set (stage) requirements. During performances the DSM prompts actors and cues technicians from the side of the stage. 


The assistant stage manager (ASM) calls actors to rehearsals and performances, arranges costume and wig fittings, obtains and maintains props, and disseminates information to other departments.


Between them, the stage management team is responsible for:

setting up and running rehearsals;

procuring all props, furniture and set dressing;

arranging costume and wig fittings;

distributing information to other theatre departments;

managing the props budget;

compiling and operating prompt copy (noting actors moves and cueing the show);

ensuring the company's welfare;

running the backstage and onstage areas during performances;

supervising the 'get-in' and 'get-out', before and after shows;

liaising with stage staff;

calling actors for rehearsals and performances.


The Front Of House Manager is a completely different job. They would be employed by the theatre (as opposed to the production company, though of course this may be one and the same thing) to look after the FOH operation (getting the audience in and seated, selling programs and other merchandise etc. They may also be the licensee for the venue.

Their duties could include managing the bars and box office. They are responsible for the safety of the audience. They probably do lots of other stuff as well...

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Can I just add a few things and emphise a few things from Tom's post-


Firstly the deffinition of a Stage Managers Job is very hard to describe and is also different for each Production. For example on Small Scale productions the SM may actually call the book however on Larger ones there Will be a DSM to do this.


One of the most important aspects of a SM's Job is organization. He/ She is the one who will have the latest up to date Schedule, Working Script with blocking and cuts, Full conatct list and all relevent Information to do with the production. Every single piece of paperwork to do with the production you will normally find in the SM's production book. This point links nicley on to my Next


The Stage Manager is a communicator. He or Shes next task after getting all the information is communicating it to people. This is done through organized notice baords, email, phone, post, meeting, converstaion etc.


The Stage Manager is Adaptable to any situation no matter what it is. They will bend witht the production instead of the production bending arround them.


They will provide security and essentials for the team and beable to understand everyones needs. This especially comes into play when two people on the team are having a dispute, The SM will calmly help them resolve it and then get back to the job in hand as before.


The SM will always be cool and composed, No matter what. A good example of this may be if there is a mistake during a performance, The LX guy may very well want to talk about it now but iff it isn't essential the SM will simply state 'The Problem has been noted we will deal with it later' instead of having a big converstaion over Cans and missing the next 8 cues as well.


The SM is always a team player however will know when to assirt his/hers autority with the cast and the crew too keep the show moving forward at the desired pace


Finally the SM will never say it is impossible, They will do it. Through flooding to Fire the SM will no doubt have a calm composed attitude at all times and work out every problem one step at a time moving forward to a solution at pace.


Finally this is a extract from the book by Tom Kelly a famous SM trying to describe the role of a SM;


Stage Managers are responsible and Adaptable communicators, who have the ability to handle and coordinte diverse groups of artistic people with tactrful discipline and a sense of humour. They establish a creative environment by combining the ability to prioritize and anticipate and solve problems, with calm sensitivity and grace under preasure. The ability to do the above stems from organization, acquired technical knowledge, familiaruty with union requirements and an insperational personality that creates positive energy


That is why I love what I do and the theatre, to be responsible to do all those things is exillerating and fufilling I have never had a sensation like the oppening night the first time I was a SM.


Hope this helps



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3. Front of House Manager


A good way of thinking of the FOH Mangers and SM's job is that the FOH Manager is reponsible for everything from the Pit back (apart from a LX Box or something).

This means the SM on performance night is responsible for everything from the front of the stage back.


The FOH Mangers primary concern is the audience- This includes getting them in and out safely, Attending to their needs (i.e. a Bar at the interval) and seating them in the correct place. The FOH manger must give 'FOH CLearance to the SM Before he can start the show (either by reading the first cue or contacting the DSM).


As far as staff goes the FOH Manger is in charge of all his ushers and all his Bar Staff.


I think the job is based around H&S, If there is a fire in most venues it is the FOH manger who will be responsible for getting everyone out ASAP in an ordely fashion

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3. Front of House Manager




I think the job is based around H&S, If there is a fire in most venues it is the FOH manger who will be responsible for getting everyone out ASAP in an ordely fashion

It is very much about Health & Safety. Just as a plane's cabin crew are there in case of emergency (The fact that they can also be used to serve food & drink is just a bonus), The Front of House team are primarily there in case the place needs evacuating (The fact that ushers may also sell ice-creams, show people politely to their seats is just a bonus.)

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Picture the scene...


The MD is winding up the band during the Act 2 overture... The GO button has just been pressed... Lights dimming down for the opening scene of Act 2... Then a mystery voice over the headset says "I didn't think there was haze needed in this scene." followed shortly by "What's that burning smell..."


You can probably guess the rest, But think fire alarm, safety curtain, evacuation & toasted dimmers and you'll be on the right lines!.


To be fair, I've never seen anyone be as calm in a crisis as our SM was that night.


House lights on, safety curtain down, sound killed & announcement to crowd done in seconds.


The biggest problem was actually trying to find a suitable extinguisher, but our smoke operator (Now that WAS ironic) found one and the fire was out in a matter of minutes.


Not an experience I would like to repeat - ever!


Now this is a deffinition of a good stage manger Jambo, (This has been quoted from Technical Disasters, Confession Time in General Tech Chat). The SM remained Calm and composed doing a very good job.



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