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What are the duties of a stage manager?

Answer

    Briefly, the duties and responsibilities of a stage manager in theater vary with each job, as they do on non-theater jobs (events, business theater/industrials, dance, opera, readings, etc.). It depends on how each production is staffed, what the hierarchy is, what the director and producer expect of the stage manager, whether it's a union or a non-union production, whether it's a touring production or will sit in one theater only.

    Once rehearsals begin, the SM is the eyes and ears of the production, keeping notes about props, costumes, blocking, and such, and making sure every note or new idea that comes up in rehearsal gets communicated to the appropriate departments. Also, the SM is responsible for maintaining order in rehearsals, keeping things running smoothly and on time, insuring that people are where they need to be at the appropriate time, prompting when actors are off-book and need a line, taking line notes, calling breaks when appropriate, scheduling rehearsals so that everything gets done and people's time is used efficiently, posting notices and schedules, maintaining contact sheets, writing up and distributing rehearsal reports, etc.

    Once the production moves into the theater, the responsibilities expand to include maintaining safety at all times, keeping the crew informed about what's happening and what they need to be ready for (starting with paperwork prepared as rehearsals progressed and resulting from conversations with the director, the designers and the technical director), maintaining the prompt script with cues for lighting and deck moves, etc. 

    In performance, the stage manager will "call" the show (lighting, sound and deck cues), and be responsible to taking and distributing notes for actors and for each production department via performance reports.  Rehearsing understudies and replacements, holding brush-up rehearsals as necessary (with the dance and/or fight captains, as appropriate), posting sign-in sheets and performance schedules, etc.

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