Training Stage Managers

thorin81

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Dec 5, 2003
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Salt Lake City, Utah
I am starting a stage management unit with my technician in my crew class this term, but I am not sure really how to go about getting things rolling... Up to this point I have trained one stage manager a year (usually a sophomore so that I can have them stick around for a while...) and swap between them and the previous year's manager. I would love to be able to have all my crew have a basic understanding of the process and what it takes to be an effective stage manager. Does anyone have a curriculum that they use to train their stage managers? or just some ideas for how to approach it in the classroom??

Thanks!!
 

gafftaper

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Nick you should have taken Jerry's class this summer at CWU!

Pick up a copy of "Cue Tips" by Elizabeth Ward. It's the perfect handbook to teach basic stage management. If I remember right it was only about $15 too.

EDIT: Amazon has used ones for under $10
 
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Sayen

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Jun 13, 2008
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Phoenix, AZ
Sounds like high school? I usually select SMs out of technicians who are good leaders and strong readers, with discipline on a headset. The rest I tend to work into them on the job. When I teach it formally, I like to start with talking about how to call cues and the hierarchy during a show. I also cover how to write blocking notes, and we practice taking notes while I block out a scene in class. From there, I usually have them develop a short practice promptbook, and call cues with each other. Depending on the scope of the unit I'll go into other responsibilities of an SM, and different techniques for calling different types of shows.
 

mstaylor

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Salisbury,MD
I have never taught it formally so take what I say for what it is worth. I would start with an overview of what a stage manager does and why. From there I would cover the specific areas, note taking for the director, meeting with designers and scheduling the tech side of the equation. Then go onto the cue calling and headset protocalls. I would teach it as what a pro SM does then break it down to what a HS SM does, most of the time very different animals. In HS many break the rehearsal side and the preformance side into two positions, one to include more kids and two to not overwhelm one kid.
 

gafftaper

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I'm at home and have time to go further into detail on why everyone should buy "Cue Tips" by Elizabeth Ward.
It's written for high school theater students but is a great resource for others trying to make their theater group more professional, and I'll even use it when training new college students to be a SM. It is broken down into 3 sections:
Section 1) The personality traits of a good stage manager
Section 2) 50 pages on the production process: pre-production, building an SM kit, audition forms, schedules, rehearsals, warm ups, taking blocking, Warm ups, Production meetings, tech and dress rehearsals, great performance night check lists, calling cues, strike, etc...
Section 3) 40 pages of resources. Forms, examples of work, glossary, even some quizzes.

It's great and it's cheap! Anyone who trains new people to stage manage needs it.

The other text from this summer's class was "Stage Management" by Lawrence Stern and Alice R. O'Grady. It's a stuffy professional take on stage management. It's also $80 for the current 9th edition! I would recommend picking up a used copy of an older edition (7th edition used $4). It's VERY formal, and very good, but I occasionally found my self shaking my head and wondering what planet the authors are from. I've worked with a lot of SM's and I'm yet to find one who is as insane with detail like the authors of this book. Nothing in this book is a bad idea, but there are things in there that no normal stage manager has enough time in their life to obsess over.
 
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thorin81

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Dec 5, 2003
Location
Salt Lake City, Utah
Wish I could have taken Jerry's class... I am using the online callboard that everyone put together and it has been GENIUS! I am finishing all my paper work for my thesis show that we hold auditions for on the 16th and I need to do some basic SM training for my new SM before the date comes and she is swamped and overwhelmed. I will pick up the books and see what I can put together. I have a book that I used in my undergrad, but have not found it very effective in a high school setting - "The Backstage Guide to Stage Management".
 
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