Happy International Stage Managers Day!

(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 10/10/14)

Did you know October 10th is a holiday? (Stand by Sound Cue 1 hand-clapping)

Well, you do now! It’s International Stage Managers Day! Woo hoo! (Sound Cue 1 hand-clapping GO).

Those of you in the theater world know just how invaluable a good stage manager is, and how the success of a show is largely in their hands.  For those of you not in the theater world, here’s just a small sampling of the kinds of things that stage managers do:

  1. Setting up rehearsal schedules and making sure everything runs on time, which means constantly reminding actors when and where they need to be.
  2. Scheduling costume fittings and making sure actors remember to show up.
  3. Overseeing all the physical attributes of a production such as lighting, sets and costumes, and making sure actors don’t mess those things up by doing stupid things like eating in costume or touching props that don’t belong to them.
  4. Writing down all the blocking for the director during the rehearsal process, so when an actor forgets where they are supposed to be someone can remind them.
  5. Being “on book” during rehearsal in case an actor forgets his next line, so he can be fed the line after calling “line”.
  6. Taking line notes during rehearsal so that when an actor says a line incorrectly they can be reminded to say it correctly.
  7. Preparing a prompt book for all the lighting and sound cues during the show.
  8. Calling a show during performance (i.e. being in charge of all the cues and telling board ops and backstage crew exactly when to execute each cue so things run smoothly).
  9. Being in charge of all the backstage and on stage areas during the show.
  10. Ensuring the welfare of the entire cast and crew by knowing safety regulations, laws, health codes, etc.
  11. Keeping track of actors’ valuables during the show.
  12. Basically being a superhero that the production could not possibly live without.
Everyone involved in a production has a relationship with the stage manager, they are the hub of all activity. It’s a tough and often thankless job, especially when they have to deal with egomaniacal actors or directors (not that I would know anything about THAT of course).
If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment today to thank and maybe even hug a stage manager. You should also buy them a cup of coffee and even bake them some cookies, because they are the first ones to come in and the last ones to leave each night. They deserve some damn cookies.
Thank you to all the wonderful stage managers whom I have worked with over my 20 years in the theater. You guys are all rock stars!!