I am currently a senior in high school and getting ready to apply for college. I would like to Major in Stage Managment and I have a few schools in mind (SUNY Purchase and North Carolina School for the Arts). I have 2 questions.

1) Does anyone know of any other good Stage Managment schools?
2) What should I bring on interviews for these school?

Thanks for listening 8O
If you were already well versed or comfortable enough with the techie side of Theater Production, then I would recommend looking at schools with a strong acting program, or at least a MFA in acting/directing. Also an existing Summer Stock Theater program is always good. I did a summer of summer stock in college and it was great. I did not have to move or travel I could professional credit and a dorm room and my resident university.

Also look at the size of the students in the program. I know SIUC is down to about 110 undergraduates in the program, with an additional 15 graduate students. But they have killed the summer Stock Theater program they had. More students sometimes mean more productions, especially in the Black Box or Lab Theater. Fewer students sometimes mean a more in depth and personal education.
"Fewer students sometimes mean a more in depth and personal education." That's given the program is large enough or well funded enough to hire teachers that are able to give adiquate instruction to improve with. In the end, it is good to get personal instruction, but if your college instructor does not know much more than your high school instructor because the program was not large enough to afford a better instructor, much less a few of them, you are not going to be getting much from the program especially with the higher techniques that would be helpful to learn. In that way, even if there is 15 grad students, and 100 tech people, at least in a school of that size you can be assured that there is staff at a good level of training to handle them and enough courses to keep them interested. Most of my best classes as an undergraduate were spent in the same classroom as the grad students. I learned what they did - it helped.

Personally, I'm more a fan of more classroom time and courses to take at a larger school than having less people to do any amount of productions and thus getting to do more shows. You will learn more in a class that you can take with you than on the stage by far. Doing shows or working in the shop is good to refine and learn stuff with, but there is so much more that's possible to learn in class in a shorter amount of time when you are not learning a few things than spending the rest of the week only doing that. I would advise going for at least the medium sized if not large school and doing shows on the side outside of school if you feel you have time but there is not enough slots open for you to take part.

Nope, I never got a chance to do a mainstage production design at school. Most of my class did. On the other hand, by junior year, I was already designign Off Off Broadway type shows professionally - the school made me ready for it. Didn't have the safety net of instructors watching over what I did outside of school which was a disadvantage, but in the classroom, they were well worth the lack of shows.

My thoughts at least. Perhaps not as much fun if you are going to school to have fun in running shows, but large schools with well developed tech programs are popular for a reason and will with better classroom programs put you ahead of those that are doing the shows constantly but not really learning higher techniques.

That's based upon both starting out at a smaller school and dealing with people coming from them but lacking sufficient knowledge to go professional.
This is a related question, but slightly off topic. If someone is doing college, part ti me, what classes do you suggest taking first? The physics/math type, or the design/shop type?
MissD said:
This is a related question, but slightly off topic. If someone is doing college, part ti me, what classes do you suggest taking first? The physics/math type, or the design/shop type?

Well...not sure if this helps but if it were me and I was going for a specified degree--I would get the basic academic requirement stuff out of the way first and then spend the rest of my focus time before I graduated on the skill or trade I was going to go into. That way I would not have to worry or be occupied with making up a math class just when I'm getting really into the crafts, just to make the required credits. If I was not going for a degree--I'd take whatever I was interested in and focus on that first and see where it leads. Even the occasional "interest" class can be fun just to learn a little bit more about this and that...even just taking a few classes with no degree goal can be fun and interesting..archeaology here...physics there...welding..basic business law...lots of thing you can learn just from taking an interest class to break up things.

hope that helps..
Wolf - kindered spirits even if your reply was much shorter than my original un-saved "invalad session"

Interior Design!!! take it if you are a theater person - no matter what study of it. Watch any of TLC's designer shows a few times if you don't yet understand. I had that class and even as a lighting designer or tech - my current occupation, it's still probably one of my more useful classes.

I completely agree with getting the basics out of the way first and than concentrating on your major field of study - given your long term schedule works out with that of what's offered. Some times of course you will have to take classes when offered or you will miss out on them such as when I was in school - stage management as a specific class was only offered about once every four years. That and just to ensure that by pre-planning the eintirly short hopefully four years that you are not forced to double up on courses such as theater history I and II because in the last year you just don't have time to spread it out or miss out in the second half of it. I had fellow students with me taking both basic lighting and advanced lighting at the same time and that was a problem for them.

Graph out your entire program I would say. Work with an advisor from the theater program in working out that graph as they will have the best idea of what you will need to take when or when courses you want will not be available. They if useful should also have some sugguestions on what courses outside the theater could help you in learning your major - even if not for credit in achieving it. You need to have your goals clearly defined and work very closely with your advisor if you don't want to either end up missing out or doubling up on classes towards the end. Add as a reward at least once a year taking the basics course (in your case) to each field of study you should know such as stage craft, lighting, sound, acting and direction. Such courses could be your theater home for the year in addition to working the show in each of these fields while otherwise you are concentrating upon the basics and say doing a show if you have time during second semester in your major field.

Hmm, history of China as credit hours in the history requirement. What use could how China revolves around the YangSee river be in your knowledge of doing theater? Won't learn that in a theater class. When possible go for not only the theater and basic education courses, go for the detailed courses that you never know what you will learn from them in. But again get classes such as Sociology out of the way early. Too much effort needs to be put into such classes otherwise when you need to be concentrating on your major later in school if you want to take home from those career oriented classes more than just what's available in a very overloaded time slot. Hmm, a set design due in the morning at the same time as having to know about Freuid and Horny. You have to pass Psychology to get rid of those requirement hours, but if you don't do your best set design, what have you really learned by the experience?

In other words, if you take too many normal courses at the same time as ones related to your major, chances are you will be selling short what you could otherwise be learning with your major by investing all you can into it. When I was in my final school, I even had all my theater practicum credits done. I did not have to run shows much less write poetry for English at night. I could invest 14 hours per page on drafting my settings or buiding a model for it. They were perfect. From such completed things I learned and developed much more than other designers - because I had time to complete my presentation or project and thus improve upon it. Instead of trying to juggle running a show, studying for other courses and do the design and drafting for a set. Turning in a design for theater that will get a passing grade isn't the point, it's how much you learn and develop. Allow extra time for your major without necessary distractions if you really want to learn stuff and get your moneys worth. Patience is best in getting into the good courses in your field.

In additon to the above, take professional out side the theater classes in related fields as electables in addition to your normal requriements. In your case, perhaps a lot of business and computer classes. For others, lots of art and especially interior design plus drafting and AutoCadd specifically as a designer outside theater or if one of the trades in theater, going to the industrial technology - real world part of the school to give you in class what the theater side just won't have time in detal to teach you about. Many places use drywall and mud for their set's walls. What's the difference between Durabond 45 and 90 could be useful to know.

So if in four years, I might take a basic theater course in say Stagecraft for the first semester in addition to normal classes. Than a career related class or two in the second semester such as for a stage carpenter - "Building Materials or Architecture" in additon to Auto Cadd or Engineering. Next year, I might take say costumes - because even as a carpenter it's still necessary at times to sit down behind a sewing machine if you are a professional. Than say take a Welding course and another drafting or architecture type course if not one in fine woodworking. If I had time, I would take in that first semester another related field course with the general theater course such as life drawing, humanities or interior design with that stage class, and say a class in artistic painting while in that costume class say second year. Related but one is theater - the other has a real world theater usefulness. That all in addition to business and more normal college classes.

Since you are part time, it's going to take even more intense a mapping out ouf your schooling. Many times a schedule that allows for a part time student won't allow for true theater courses and the normal ones. It's by far more important to follow your mapped out course outline even if you don't get a theater if even a theater related course each semester than taking by absolution because you want to have fun here, an absolute of one fun course per semester. That on a part time basis would if not a specific part of your schedule would limit you very much. Plus if it's in the plans to eventually go full time, such schools that you would be able to go to once the normal requrements are fulfilled will probably have much better main courses for your field than those offered part time. Wait for those better courses elsewhere or when you have time to really study at them.

On the subject of transferring schools, always as part of your graph for college - even if not fun keep in mind what's going to transfer to another school. You don't want to have to repeat anything important. Certainly as with the "Building Materials of Architecture" much less four classes in art I once had at the school I was at before the one I ended up at, they did not transfer as either a class towards my degree or general class. But for my personal development both courses were much easier to get into at a smaller school than at the larger school especially when my time at the end was very limited. So take the main say English and Foreign language crap courses that would teach you as well no matter where you go, and look into such courses that could help you in your field such as in your case, say a business management course at the smaller or part time school is easier to get into such classes with bit while not required for a theater degree might be helpful as your electives as opposed to going too in depth into your major.

Keep the idea of carrot on a stick in going to school. Perhaps one class per year that's something specific to your major. Say two or three that are related to your major that will help develop you but not a part of it's requirements. But the rest that are required to get out of the way for graduation and in taking them by mid junior or senior year will allow you to fall into and in-depth study of your degree without worrying about other crap classes such as Phys Ed that are useless in your field unless of course it's First Aid that would be very necessary to learn as a stage manager but something you can't learn on the theater side of campus. So if given the choice in Phys Ed, perhaps you can take some kind of sports medicine class as opposed to running around the track or underwater basket weaving. Than when the major cast member pulls a muscle, you as stage manager can get that cast member up and running for the next night with useful advice, rather than prepping the understudy for the show. Lots of stuff you can learn even if required and outside of theater. Get them out of the way as fast as you can, but look at a general map of your goals first.

Honestly, I think that is the best advice you have given on this site so far :D I really enjoyed reading this post and I am now working a college "graph" to better plan out my college education. I am not in a theater major, so things are a bit different, but most of the same advice applies...

Thank you much...

Load balance is very important when choosing college courses. I was a theater and electrical engineering double major. So I had to make course selections and instructor selections very carefully. Sometimes a 3-hour course had the homework and workload of a 5-hour course, or the Thea 311 (Play Analysis) instructor had a Ph.D in literature, talkabout insane indepth analysis. H.D. Holman's handbook of literature saved me from that Prof.
I had to juggle a lot of courses and take summer school (YUK!) in order to keep on track. Try to keep some of those "easy for you" courses in the wings incase you have to drop a course with an insane prof. I always had a history course or a Theater elective like intro to costumes to add/drop to my schedule.

Depending on what kind of theater program or organization you had in High School will have a great impact on your choices for College. For me going to SIUC from GBS was bad. Ten years ago GBS was the first High School in the nation to use automated lights in a high school productions. (Ahh! I can still hear the fans from the VL1's, and the screaming of our professional sound engineer. Ahh! Memories!) SIUC was not in very good shape. 14 line sets and most the lighting equipment were older than me. The clear com belt backs were mental, and the sound equipment was ancient.

Now I made lemonade out of lemons by focusing less on the tech work, and more on the production management side of things. For example, we had serious issues at SIUC with getting pre-production and pre-build work done in time for other members of the production staff. We also had issues where grad students and professors from all over the world had different understandings on what the role or responsibilities were for members of the production staff. So I volunteered and helped the head of design and production write a production manual. I feel more well rounded, but even today I am quite annoyed with the lack of equipment at SIUC.

This message is for Dave, really. I know SachemStageCrew originally asked about stage managing specifically, but it holds essential information for high school students in general wanting to pursue tech theater in college. Can this conversation get moved to a more prominent place? Maybe the front page of the site? There are a few conversations about college, can we merge them, or create a new category, or something?

Thanks for all the effort you put in.
I have to bow down to Ship once again.

The only thing I can add (even though Ship and Wolf hinted at it), is that there are so many great non-theatre classes that end up being important. But when it comes to every educational oppurtunity, you control how much you get out of the situation. Paying attention,asking questions, taking notes, and researching on your own, is the key to learning. Than taking what you learn and finding ways to apply will help lock it in. Yes there are some teachers that just stink, but even that can be a learning oppurtunity with a little effort. I learned very early on that I hated classroom learning. But I was smart, instead of becoming a problem, I realized that I didn't want to spend a second more in the classroom than I had to. So I studied hard, had perfect attendance, took heavy classloads, and got the heck out of Dodge. I know different people learn differently, I personally prefer the hands on lab set up.
But going on about my original thought almost anyything can be applied to theatre, and that's why so many of us are trivia freaks. You can do a show that is based on the dustbowl and then follow it up with a show based in ancient Rome, having even a little idea about these things helps.
And you never know what you are going to need in the future.

I would think one of the best skills to really learn is how to effectively research. Being able to research well is a gold mine.

just my little addition.
wow.... I dont think anyone answered EITHER of my questions lol. I asked what Colleges are good fro Stage Managers and What to bring on interviews.
I think that the reason nobody answered your questions specifically as to the "best" school for stage management is because this subject isn't like what's the "best" baseball team, car. or more closely related - architecture school. Theater schools don't have a national rating system applied to fulfilling any one field much less really don't have a ranking system on which is best. You can probably find a top ten tech school such as say Yale which has had a good theater program for about a hundred years now, but more important than that once the major specilization classes are given, it's a question in how you commune with the school. Start with schools that offer various degree specilizations such as Stage Management if not just theater design and production and avoid schools such that offer general theater degrees.

Than as aways go into the school and talk with both current students, and instructors to see how they like it or what it's like and see how the place that you will spend 4 years at is beyond photos. Plus ask given your difficlut major, how many course specific classes they offer towards you getting such a specific but not standard major, and how many majors they have in this field. Than get into earlier hotly debated questions such as how many students in the program and how many grad students are there on the subject of schools. In other words how many people there are in your program - and there is lots of opinions on this, mine being the most useful of course.

What's the best stage management school? I went to a total of three colleges. I would say in my own little world Illinois State University has the best program - at least amongst the three schools. Do you understand the difficulty in answering your question? How do I know ISU is better than Ithica in Stage Management programs in general given you are different in your needs than I am? I never went to Ithica so how can I say it's a worse program? In asking what's the best program, how can you expect anything but very small percentage of people say 1% of what 250 someodd members, to tell you what's best in at least their experience for schools given they even had an interest in stage management. If you want a better pool for personal observations onto what's the best school for stage management you should probably hit up Stagecraft that has a bit more members able to tell you either about the programs they graduated from or at least what their school is like - given you don't get advice like mine.

In the end it's going to be leg work. So let me help you with at least the bairest of minimum in starts. Look into ISU, Uof I, Yale, NYU and UCLA. There is a few schools with large enough programs that if you did not more research, you at least would be assured of getting a good education beyond say Columbia College, NorthWestern, or Ithica that have good theater programs but might not be large enough to specilize in stage management. But that's just Illinois theater schools. What other states have, how would I know not having experienced them.

Sorry but short of posting a better refined question on Stagecraft, it's all up to you and the leg work you put into it.

2) Interviews, for a school? Don't know. I regesterd and was in a program given my credits transfered and otherwise was able to get into the school. As long as I got in the school they made room for me in the theater.
How I wound up ass backwards at Illinois Stage University - much less how I wound up at my current job.

You know at some point you just have to trust your instincts or fate after even the most brief of un-confirmed research on a subject. You can always transfer. ISU in my case offered a theater production and design degree in addition to requiring a minor in another design field and for me that was good enough because it just felt right for a school or goal I should achieve to be at. In my case, ISU offered stuff that I still use, and with my current job, even though I had never heard of them before I went there, it turned out to be the place I very likely might retire at degree in my field or not. Part of what ISU, and part of what real life taught me trained me well enough to get far with my career.

For me, once kicked out of my first school Elmhurst College - a local school without a more than at best general theater degree (long story, why do you think I say “the show will go on - just without you if you don’t study.”) Than getting awesome grades at College of DuPage, but finding it not the school that would be of use to learn much at, I trusted in instinct after getting pulled out of school for a short war.

When I got back, I found myself a real school. One with what I expected for a real college’s campus, football stadium, and buildings of outward appearance to teach from. More important, I had a girlfriend that went to Bradley in Peoria and used to take the bus to see her from Chicago. (One important thing that I did learn at Elmhurst College was in the class “Interpersonal Relationships” the specific part of it was - long distance relationships, with very specific guidelines on transportation and location don’t last, much to my disappointment.) Anyway, every time I took the bus down to Peoria to visit her, it stopped at ISU in Bloomington/Normal as the second to last stop. “Someday, I’m going to be here.” Every time I saw the campus, I thought how nice it would be to be in close proximity to her - my soul mate ......
Anyway, the school was bigger than Bradley or any school as yet I had attended, and was remote to my home which was important because the more distant you get to your high school/local friends and family, the more likely you are to be able to adapt to being a student as opposed to struggling with being a local buddie to local friends dropping in, and trying to be a student. Plus it was only 45 minutes from Bradley by bus. There was hope....

In the end, there was not real hope beyond the best danged designer/director relationship ever seen in later years due to that bond, but I kind of fell ass backwards into a good theater program in at least fulfilling that part of a goal.

ISU is not as large a program as University of Illinois, but I too thought I could get lost in too large a school. ISU was howerver in my case certainly much better than most - even if it had 16 or more dreaded graduate students in the program. It was based upon location to girlfriend and a very short amount of checking out what classes the program I was already applying for to be offered. By chance those classes at least in design were very good for the early 90s. Can’t say I ever even stopped into the theater department building before my first class because I didn’t. But in retrospect, I could and should have because there was always theater people hanging around the building 24 hours a day that would be more than willing to talk with a perspective class member for better or worse.

In talking with such people I could have found out what it’s like in judging what the program is like for me as opposed to other places. I have talked with people in the halls at Columbia College about their experience, and even though I know it’s various people on the instructor level running the program at a good amount of quality, I can’t recommend the school because of what the students say about it. Dealing with school is enough with out the realities of the “big city” real life being part of that reality. Much better to be out in some large corn field with only a bunch of drunk jocks to deal with than also have to deal with the baggers, thieves and full time jobs of the big city. It’s just a whole different thing having a campus that’s a real campus to insulate you from real life, and city that is more support staff for that campus than attending a college in a big city that’s part of the city but has to deal with real life in addition to real life of being in the fantasy world of being a student. Once a year I go back to ISU. It’s like a whole other world - one that I could move to in settling down and be very happy at in symplicity.

So here is my advice on schools. ISU is a good school, but only one of a few of them. Take what I write about my experience there in many postings about it which is the basis of advice I have about going to college, and if you are similar, transfer those things I found or needed to be things to look out for in a school. Don’t go there unless you have been there and like your experience. What You think isn’t what I think.

In my opinion, avoid schools that are local to your home, avoid schools that are in big cities, and avoid schools that are more junior college or aiming towards the night-school or part time basis for such a specific field of study as stage management. Many people say avoid schools with too large a population, much less avoid schools with too many graduate students. I say, the more and especially the more grad students, the more you will be given the opportunity to learn.

But don’t trust fate or what some catalog says, go to the school and investigate. Plus your instincts are right in asking questions on-line, but hit up stagecraft, or isn’t there a stagemanagement website that would in it’s more specific nature be a better already I’m sure covered source for this answer from people with this major? At least with such a place there would be a larger pool of people specific to your interest to pool info from. I believe ISU had one class in stage management while I was in school 10 years ago, every other year. I expect they have a few more than that by now but can’t really say. Does any school have more than that now? Can’t say as I’m long past school.
SachemStageCrew said:
wow.... I dont think anyone answered EITHER of my questions lol. I asked what Colleges are good fro Stage Managers and What to bring on interviews.

Its not that we haven't answered your question--its there is no set answer of "go here for this" and "go to this school for that". WE cannot make a decision for have to take your needs and wishes and research things to how you like to learn. Especially when it comes to this industry--I wish it were so simple. I would agree with Ship's comments entirely and add this: In our industry there is no set "college" of all knowledge that does things better then all others. You get out of a school what you make it give you in experience and lessons from what it offers. Also keep in mind--if everyone learned the exact same way--there would be one universal college cirriculum and teaching style but the fact is some folks learn hands-on, others from lecture and others from books. Taking that information about how you yourself learn best is how you should approach looking at a college list of classes and see what and how they offer the course. There are many colleges--like North Carolina School of The Arts for example: They offer a lot of varied courses in theater and stage more then you would find at a non-related general studies college. Then there are colleges that teach a few things about stage or theater--but may not dive deep into audio engineering or lighting design or set building. It varies from place to place--and I should add that some of the BEST stage managers I have worked with all have a working background & experience in many of the areas they will be in charge of on a show. A blind stage manager may be nicely organized and have neat paperwork and script notes, but he/she may be someone who knows NOTHING to the reasons and the how-to's of how a set goes together, How actors have to be blocked and WHY they have to do a certain entrance in an area at a certain time to avoid a fly piece that may hit them, or how drapes have to get hung in a certain order and WHY, or how trucks need to get packed, or how light hangs and electrics go in to a venue, and how sound and audio needs have to be addressed. The SM is also usually the political buffer zone between many a sound engineer or LD to keep them from killing the director or actor or newbie on the stage cause THEY don't understand the other area's needs and only see what they want. As a good SM--you have to understand the reasons of both sides of any issue and initiate a compromise--and that is but ONE of many many jobs of a good SM. When it comes down to things--a good SM is someone who is organized, detailed and anal, knowledgable about most or all the technical aspects of the show and how it all goes together and needs to work together, and they are a diplomat and judge--buffering and ensuring all area's have what they need and things are going together--and lastly being the judge and making the hard decisions or split second decisions that have to happen to not hold up a show debating with 50 "ideas" of how something should be done to compromise. Rather then look for a school that offers a detailed program in SM only--you should look for one that will give you a whole broad experience in ALL aspects of theater--and not just managing. I mean--how can you manage something you don't understand fully. If you don't know that lights need to hang first for "x" reason--how can you plan for it or explain that to the set builder that he has to wait.

You have to decide what exactly you want to get out of the classes and choose your school based on if that school can deliver the classes and specialty's you want and need in a good overall complete fashion. There is no "stage managers" degree course that I am aware of, however some colleges theater programs include it as a separate class, and others incorporate it as part of the general stage craft. Odd enough--but in the overseas market there are many more tech oriented schools and classes. Australia for example, who have theatrical tech-level certifications that are needed to work in this field over there, have detailed classes on stage management, lights, audio, wardrobe etc. Given time and USITT/ESTA's hopes, the US may soon have something similar..however its not a class I would hold my breath waiting for based on simply how slow things get to going in the US vs Euro. Best suggestion that anyone can give you is a variety of schools that teach and offer GOOD theater based classes, and the rest is up to you to research and decide if their classes will give you what you want them to give you in the way of detail and attention.

just my 2 cents...
There is an elusive line between stage manager and director in the academic sense. A school with either a MFA in Acting or Directing may give you the opportunities and experiences you seek. Also look to see how many stages or black boxes they have. How many productions do they do in a season? Do they have a summer stock program or cooperate with a school that does.

I know that there was a Traveling Show out of Omaha, Nebraska, and a few of SIUC's former Grad students were set up there as TDs. So the joke was that it was SIU-Omaha. Less then five years later the new TD/LD Prof had a lot of connections with the Utah Shakespeare festival. One of the Music programs directors had an annual gig at New Harmony, some where in southern Indiana, and he would bring one of out stage managers with him to sm the show(s). Look for schools and programs that have opportunities below the surface as well as on top.
Check out Webster conservatory in st. Louis...great school...great program...great people...and they have two professional theatres in residence...great connections after graduation
Check out Webster conservatory in st. Louis...great school...great program...great people...and they have two professional theatres in residence...great connections after graduation

The OP made her post in September of 2003, she graduated HS in 2004, which means she should be out in the real world since 2008....

I also know MANY webster grads, so if you want to get into the webster debate... we can do that elsewhere.

Thanks for the suggestion though!
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