Hello! Newbie seeks help.


I'm Deela and I am from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I stumbled across this really cool website when i was looking for something on stage management. And I must say, that the word 'impressive' will not do this site any justice. I can't believe that i just found out about controlbooth.com only last week and have missed out on all the great infos I could have gotten ages ago.
Though this site is mostly for high schoolers, I am a university student majoring in English Language and Literature. And I'm 22 (very ooooold...) years old. During my early years, I came to love the theatre and through my core course subjects, had a chance to produce our own staging! It was a great thrill for an amateur like me back then, and I decided I loved the stage straight away.
Over the years of acting, I have channeled my interest towards the backstage jobs, in all its technical glory. I have come to appreciate how the lighting works, the crucial job of the SM in enlightening everyone on the production team, the combination of the sound effects and how it is arranged (i have even started learning how to make the sound effects!), the setting designer and props master working together in constructing the stage into a magnificent scene... God, there's just so much of this cool stuff that it makes a newbie like me excited!!
So here's the thing. i started out by simply being a backstage crew, mostly just being in the way of the pros. But I picked things up pretty fast due to my enthusiasm, and soon, in just a year, someone made me an SM!! My first thought was, "Oh my GOSH!! I'm gonna suck at this! I don't know a thing about stage managing!!" My fault was that I was in such a panic that I spent most of my time lamenting on what I cannot do instead of what I can do. I picked up a book on Stage Management and made a mess out of my prompt book. All my pro seniors have graduated and I was left to my own devices on how to be an SM. I didn't even prompt the actors properly. needless to say, it was a hell job for me. The only saving grace was that on the day of the production, everyone was nice enough to listen to me for the calls and cues.
But through all this, I can only say one thing... It was superb fun!!!! I got to work with the lighting technincian, sound technician, props master, costume designers, and all the talented people whose combined weaving made the production a beautiful result. That's what I love about being an SM, though I suck at it. And I know that during my final year (I'm in my final year!!! Arghh!!) I have been appointed and given the trust to be SM again for three more productions. And I need ALL the help I can get.
There's not much literature on stage management from where I'm studying, because our Theatre Club is not consisting of professionals, and my library have very limited literature on theatre. So... I was wondering, if anyone can tell me stuff about being a good and reliable stage manager. 'Stuff' there means everything you guys might know. Sorry if I sound a bit pushy.... But I'm desperate!!! Please!!! If possible, it would be graet if anyone can explain to me what an SM does and all the stuff he/she needs (in case you're wondering, I'm a she).
Like a prompt book. what is it actually and why do I need it? How do I promt? How can I organize myself in order to coordinate with the rest of the production members? What do I do first and what do I do later? When I want to have a staff meeting, what do I tell them I need? Simply put, what does an SM has to say to all these people (directors, technicians, actors, etc)?
Thank you!!!! :D
Hello Deela, and welcome! :D

The last time I visited Kuala Lampur, it was beautiful - not just the city, but many wonderful people I met. That was 33 years ago, when I was 21. You're not old. :roll:

Yes, this board is aimed at high-school students, but they have a habit of welcoming anyone interested in the tech end of theater, even old farts like me, as long as we're willing to share information.

The important thing is the actual sharing information - not "do it like this, because I said so and I'm old, so you should listen to me" but "here are some of the things you should consider in deciding how you should do it" or "this is how I'd do it if I were in your place, and here's why..." - and "because I said so" is NEVER a good "why."

I'm an electronics engineer by profession, and do sound and lighting for local-band rock concerts as a hobby. I can tell you, in every boring detail, exactly how the DMX-512 protocol works to get signals from a light board to the stage, but many of the high-school kids on Control Booth are way ahead of me when it comes to actually using the board and lights to do a show. I've learned a lot here.

There's a section of Control Booth specifically for stage management questions. While you'll probably get some information from this post, you're more likely to get solid answers if you ask your questions there.

You might want to get started by reading through some of the posts that are already there. You'll probably find that more than one of your questions has already been asked and answered - you're not the first person to be pushed into a Stage Manager position without much training... and a few months from now, you'll be offering up your own advice to someone else who gets pushed into it. :wink:


I am in no way, shape or form an expert but I would give you one pice of advice. Get people who you know and trust to work with you. I just SMed my first show, and I must say the actors did there cues by themselves and there weren't a lot of technical cues. However, I knew who was working under me, I knew what they could do, and what they couldn't. I also trusted them to do the best job they could, which helped me relax before the first show...

Also, what I did was take one script and use it for all the rehersals, marked it up, made it all nasty with writing all over it. Then, right before the show, I got another copy of the script and wrote neatly all of the cues that were still valid (because about 90% of them changed).

As most people know, I go to the smallest school in the world, and for this show I was doing lights and sounds at the same time...(i accutly sorta came up with a way that it worked...) but I had a techie backstage on a radio just incase I needed him. He was sort of a techie without a job, so if i needed him to do something, he could do it (he ended up working the crash box and turning off the house lights).

Im sure many other people can give you better sugestions (and I could use them to, I've got 2 more shows to SM)

I hope this helps

Users who are viewing this thread