My Covid Guarantee means you can change the dates of your production at any time with no extra charge.

What are the Different Stage Management Roles?

by | Nov 9, 2020

Stage managers and the stage management team are a crucial part of the overall machine of making theatre. They cover a really wide field of skills and expertise that keep a production running both on and off stage. In today’s blog, I’m going to cover:

  • What are all the different stage management roles?
  • What do they do?
  • Responsibilities of the stage management

The Main Stage Management Roles

On most productions you might have a combination of any of the following stage managerial roles. Sometimes roles are grouped together into a role for one person depending on the scale of the performance.

  • Company Stage Manager
  • Technical Stage Manager/Stage Manager
  • Deputy Stage Manager
  • Assistant Stage Manager

As you would expect, there is often a lot of cross over between the roles and responsibilities of individuals in a stage management team and each production may well choose to divide responsibilities differently. However, generally the responsibilities are as follows:

What is a Company Stage Manager?

A Company Stage Manager (or CSM) is usually the producer’s most senior representative ‘on the ground’. They manage the day to day human resources side of the production for cast and crew as well as overseeing the logistical liaison with the venue when the production arrives. Duties can include:

  • Managing the cast and crew on a day-to-day basis
  • Weekly payroll for cast and crew
  • Organising medical and physiotherapy appointments for cast
  • Acting as liaison to facilitate excellent communication between creatives, producers, production, technical and cast
  • Managing the production petty cash pot
  • Organising tickets for cast and crew with the venue box office
  • Deputising for other stage management roles in the event of absence
  • Coordinating press calls for cast
  • Working with the resident creative teams to organise understudy rehearsals
  • Ensuring that ‘get ins’ go smoothly and accurately replicate the show

What is a Technical Stage Manager?

A Technical Stage Manager (TSM – sometimes known simply as ‘Stage Manager’ or ‘SM’) differs from a CSM because their responsibilities focus more around one specific area of the production: the technical aspects. They are responsible for everything that happens on stage and offstage during a production, and for maintenance outside of performance times. Duties can include:

  • Health and safety of cast and crew on stage
  • Coordinating scene changes
  • Deputising for other stage management roles in the event of absence
  • Safety and upkeep of all technical equipment for the production
  • Liaising with the venue technical staff
  • Drawing up cue sheets for venue staff who assist on the production
  • Communicating health and safety information to cast and crew when necessary
  • Performing a stage management track during the show (moving set, props etc. and activating technical show elements)
  • Ensuring that ‘get ins’ go smoothly and accurately replicate the show

What is a Deputy Stage Manager?

A Deputy Stage Managers (or DSM) is more than just a stand-in if the TSM or CSM is absent. The DSM is responsible for ‘calling’ the performance (co-ordinating the various technical team members to perform cued actions at the correct times, and activating lighting and sound cues for the show). Without them, the shows we see performed would never be as slick as they are. Duties can include:

  • Calling the show
  • Deputising for other stage management roles in the event of absence
  • Keeping cast and crew safe on stage
  • Creating the prompt book (sometimes known as the show bible) where movements of all cast and crew on stage at any time so that a complete record of the show is kept in the event that a cast or crew member needs to be replaced
  • Sending daily rehearsal reports to all creative team members communicating significant changes from the rehearsal room and points to be aware of
  • Sending daily show reports to all creative team members communicating how that performance was received and any errors made during the show by cast or crew
  • Working with the resident creative team on understudy rehearsals
  • Ensuring that ‘get ins’ go smoothly and accurately replicate the show

What is an Assistant Stage Manager?

An Assistant Stage Manager (or ASM) is much more than simply an assistant to the other stage management roles (although this is part of their duties). ASMs are responsible for sourcing or creating props for the production in line with the designer’s plans and looking after them during a show. Duties can include:

  • Creating/sourcing props for a production
  • Creating ‘prop tracks’ (the track that a prop takes throughout it’s journey in a show)
  • Carrying out ‘shout checks’ pre show to ensure all props/presets are where they should be prior to the performance commencing
  • Being responsible for the safe return of all props after use
  • Deputising for the DSM
  • Assisting the resident creative team with understudy rehearsals
  • Keeping cast and crew safe on stage
  • Performing a stage management track during the show
  • Ensuring that ‘get ins’ go smoothly and accurately replicate the show

Summary

I think you’ll agree, without the stage management team, we’d all be in trouble! Remember that the crew of a production are often the most knowledgable people in the building and are an essential part of any performance. Got your own ideas about stage management and what they look after? I’d love to hear them.

You can find industry approved pay rates for Stage Managers on the ITC website.

Want to learn more about panto?

Sign up to my newsletter for regular blogs and insider advice on writing and producing pantomimes.

Looking for a pantomime script?

Browse my selection of funny, flexible, family-friendly pantos today.

Other helpful blogs: