Stage Manager backstage

Does your SM spend most of each show backstage or at the Tech Table/Tech Booth?


  • Total voters
    346

cwhitson

Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2008
Location
Albuquerque, NM
I agree with Gafftaper, it really depends on the theater and the production. One thing that hasn't been mentioned though and that needs to be kept in mind is that it is the Stage Managers responsibility to make sure that the Director's vision is maintained throughout the production. Knowing what it looks like from the audience's point of view is paramount. As long as this can be accomplished...I don't see where it would matter if the SM was backstage or in the booth.
 

museav

CBMod
CB Mods
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Jul 17, 2007
Location
Marietta, GA
I agree with Gafftaper, it really depends on the theater and the production.
Totally in agreement, which is why I try to design most facilities to allow the flexibility to have the SM at multiple locations.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned though and that needs to be kept in mind is that it is the Stage Managers responsibility to make sure that the Director's vision is maintained throughout the production. Knowing what it looks like from the audience's point of view is paramount. As long as this can be accomplished...I don't see where it would matter if the SM was backstage or in the booth.
Agreed, however it is also the Stage Manager's responsibility to manage what is on stage. If there is any conflict between maintaining the Director's vision or stage safety and leadership, I think that safety has to take precedence. Calling cues, etc. is one thing but someone has to be responsible for controlling the stage and avoiding, or dealing with, any problems in what is typically the busiest and most dangerous area. Especially with a crew that is learning, you would likely want your most experienced and responsible crew member to serve that role and that is often the SM. Now if you have an experienced ASM or an experienced crew and inexperienced SM or any of a number of other situations, then the situation could certainly differ.
 

hklq

Member
Joined
May 31, 2009
Location
Vancouver, Canada
It's all about having a competent set of ASMs.
Couldn't agree with you more. And if your light/audio board op doesn't show and there's no replacement other than the SM it's good to be used to calling from the booth. Of course in opera the SM always calls from backstage, but that's a whole different rule book.
 

DuckJordan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2009
Location
Doesnt matter
our stage manager is really not a stage manager at all but rather a stage hand manager. he or she basicly tells the rest of the crew when to go on and off for scene changes. (lights and sound run the show from the booth, SM waits for black out or specified line or sound cue) then goes on and changes set. Basicaly its a glorified stage hand position in our theater (completely out of my hands btw).

I would like to see a stage manager in our booth calling cues and getting everything running correctly. Too much our director relies on individuals to get timing right.
 

HSSBO94

Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2010
Location
NY
Our SM is in the booth.
to answer the question: "how do you know if the crew is ready?"
well that's what ASM's are for. Our SM meets with the ASMs enough to trust them. of course, if our SM Wanted to be backstage that would be fine, but the ASM's job is to help the SM.

The advantages to being in the booth are you can see the stage and see if anything was missed and the SM has a good sight of the house allowing us to hold the house if necessary
 

Dylandtech

Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2010
Location
CT
in my school we have our stage manager in the tech booth with the sound and light board. but we also have our ASM or some other person back left on headset to be able to communicate with out SM and others. at the professional theatre i work at we have a SM center back right. it has a monitor which displays the stage from center mezzanine along with a backstage god mic, a headset and anything else they might need
 

blackhat

Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2010
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Just to throw another opinion in there:

From shows I have worked as both a Stage Manager, an ASM and Crew, the Stage Manager's job is several fold, which has already been mentioned. But, when there is a critical point, his or her job is to *think*. Each crew member must be focused and excel at their job, and constant communication between crew and ASM, ASM and SM and board ops and SM must be constant. Because, when SHTF, crew do not have time to think. The SM must be free to formulate the plan, coordinate the resources at his or her disposal, and all the while making sure the audience has NO CLUE what just happened. They must manage a reality, and that requires having multiple views and being able to understand them at a moment's notice. Also, to most effectively make this happen, the SM needs to have as clear a view as the audience has. This is pretty much (to me, of course your mileage may vary) the only way to know that a sequence of events or a quick solution is able to be read from the house, and to call out any issues that may be visible but the crew may not be aware of from their respective positions.

To me, this just further brings to light the value of a good ASM, and how they are often more critical to a show than many suspect. They're the eyes and ears backstage for the SM, who is focused on the end product and using the tools there to make it happen. The ASM makes sure all those tools, workers and elements are there to function according to plan (even if the plan must change immediately). Also, it also shows that a GOOD SM should be a jack of all trades in order to do their job well. I cannot stomach any stage manager who thinks that having the best knowledge possible about your house's light board, sound setup, set design or even makeup requirements for your show isn't as critical as the rest of the traditional SM skills. Of course, I speak of some SM's from community theater productions when I was a TD and the difference between them and pros is of course glaring (or at least should be). To me a Stage Manager has the requirement to have a MUCH greater skill base since so much of it is administrative and technical, and if they do their job right they should appear omnipresent to the cast since you pretty much have to be during a show

This of course also points out (once again) that it's the crew as a whole that make this happen... nothing happens without our crew!