I’ve worked in theatre a while now and even though I like to think sound is the most important department, there is one more that we probably couldn’t do without….

Stage Management.

scene changes

In theatre, stage management is a term that refers to the various positions and tasks that need to be filled in order to produce a theatrical production. These can range from organizing and running rehearsals, to handling the budget and making sure the cast and stage crew have everything they need, to deal with the technical aspects of putting on a show. In short, stage management is responsible for ensuring that all the pieces of a production come together seamlessly.

What are the 3 roles of Stage Management?

Stage managers

Deputy stage manager

Assistant stage manager

There is a hierarchy in stage management, with different roles and responsibilities that fall in line accordingly. At the top of the hierarchy is the stage manager or SM, who is responsible for overall supervision of the production and all of the moving parts that go into it. Below them is the deputy stage manager or DSM and assistant stage manager or ASM, who assist in running rehearsals and performances, handling logistics, and dealing with any issues that may arise. This hierarchy ensures that there is a clear chain of command and that everyone knows their role and what is expected of them.

What makes a good Stage Manager?

communication skillsA good stage management person is someone who is organized, efficient, and knowledgeable about the theatre. They are responsible for making sure that everything runs smoothly during the performance and in the rehearsal room, and they must be able to handle last-minute changes and emergencies as this job can be physically demanding.

What are 5 responsibilities of a Stage Manager?

  1. Coordinating the performance with the director
  2. Rehearsing the actors
  3. Planning the set and lighting design
  4. Coordinating with the crew backstage
  5. Managing the show during the performance

What’s the difference between a Stage Manager and a Director?

performing artsA SM oversees all the logistics of the production– from coordinating with the director and actors to making sure the set is ready and the lights are on. A director is responsible for shaping the performance and guiding the actors.

How long does it take to become a Stage Manager?

It typically takes around three years to become a stage manager, although it varies depending on your experience and qualifications. You will need to complete a theatre degree or diploma, and you may also need to complete an internship.

What are the different types of Stage Management?

West End 


Regional theatre 

Theatre school

theatre productionThere are four main types of stage managers: West End, Touring, Regional theatre, and Theatre School. Each type of stage manager has different responsibilities, depending on the size and scope of the production they are working on. West End stage management typically work on large-scale productions with many moving parts, while touring stage managers will also work on large productions but they tour them around the country. Regional theatre stage managers often oversee multiple productions at once, while theatre school stage managers typically work with students to help them prepare for their performances.

Why Stage Managers do lighting and sound?

The life of an SM is never boring. In addition to being responsible for the overall running of the show, they also have to know a thing or two about LX and sound.

Why? Because oftentimes, the LX and sound designers are not available to be at the venue during performances. So it falls on the stage manager to make sure that all the cues are called and executed properly.

Not only does this require an understanding of how LX and sound work, but also a lot of patience, quick thinking and management skills. After all, when something goes wrong with the lights or sound, it’s up to the stage manager to fix it!

If you want to become a stage manager, the best way to start is by completing a technical theatre degree or diploma. This will give you the necessary skills and knowledge to work in the theatre industry.

Below are a few of the best Stage Management Schools around:

  • The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

At Central, we challenge students to be original thinkers, inventive and effective collaborators, and creative entrepreneurs who go on to make a difference.

With 15 courses at undergraduate level and 14 Master’s programmes, alongside an expansive and award-winning Research department, we offer Europe’s most comprehensive choice of specialist higher education drama, theatre and performance training.  We have an unrivalled range of international partners and collaborators, strong industry links, a wide portfolio of professional placement opportunities and some of the highest graduate employment rates in the sector.

Students from all over the world come to study at Central, not only to train in their chosen discipline, but also to learn about all the other related subjects and how they interrelate.  We are a truly international community drawn from some 50 different nations across the globe.

These are undoubtedly extraordinary times and we are acutely aware that the theatre, festivals and live events industries have faced enormous challenges arising from COVID-19. During this period, drama schools like Central have been able to continue to make new work, online or in physically distanced ways. And through it all, Central remains a safe and supportive environment where students are encouraged to experiment with practices at the forefront of theatre and performance, and to interrogate the great traditions that are part of the School’s long history.

The immediate future poses challenges but, at Central, you can be part of the solution. Central’s current and future students, our staff and partner arts organisations, have worked together to find innovative ways to overcome the obstacles COVID-19 has placed in front of the traditional ways of making and seeing performance. The performing arts will adapt and thrive again, and it will be today’s students that shape the future, with a blend of traditional skills and new techniques and understanding.

  • Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts

  • GSA

  • Guildhall School of Music and Drama

rehearsal roomYou may also need to complete an internship in order to gain experience. The best way to learn the ropes of stage management is to shadow an experienced stage manager and learn from them.

Contact your local theatre and ask the stage doorkeeper the stage manager’s name. NEVER WRITE A TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN LETTER, as they will get filed in the trash.

Final words

Stage management is responsible for the smooth running of a performance.

They must be able to handle emergencies and last-minute changes.

Their responsibilities include coordinating with the director, rehearsing the actors, planning the set and lighting design, coordinating with the crew backstage, and managing the show during the performance.

There are four types of stage managers: West End, Touring, Regional theatre, and Theatre School. Each type of stage manager has different responsibilities depending on the size and scope of the production they are working on.

Stage managers typically need a theatre degree or diploma to work in the industry.