Entry ID1089
Entry DateMay 23, 2018
NameJ Johnson
Relationship to SM CommunityStudent

What is the difference between an SM (stage manager) and a PSM (production stage manager)?

Erin Joy Swank 23 May 2018 1:56 pm
Hello and thank you for contacting the Stage Managers' Association!

Frankly, different companies use these abbreviations to mean different things. In my experience, the Production Stage Manager is always considered the "top" stage manager. If only one show is being produced at a time, there are companies that may use the term Stage Manager or Production Stage Manager interchangeably, since there's only one person. However, if you're working within a season/festival of shows, the Production Stage Manager is in a way "over" the rest of the stage managers. This person may have a say in helping decide who is hired for each show, and is in a sort of supervisory position over the entire stage management staff for a company. This is tricky, though, because there are laws saying that union members can't be supervisors, and many Actors Equity stage mangers are indeed in these positions....so people will use various terms to discuss the job duties and still stay within labor laws. Production Stage Manager titles are also given to the "top" stage manager on a touring or large production, and the next stage managers down the line may be called Stage Manager. For instance, when I toured with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, my job title was Stage Manager, but if you compared my job to the same position at, say, a regional theatre, I was an assistant stage manager. I primarily ran one side of the stage, but I also rotated to call the cues during our 100+ performances.

When in doubt, ask the company hiring what *they* think Stage Manager or Production Stage Manager means. Similarly, there are various titles out there for the assistant-type jobs, whether it's Production Assistant, Intern, Apprentice, Non-Equity Assistant Stage Manager, or, as discussed earlier, Stage Manager. Only the people hiring you can tell you exactly what they mean at that particular theatre. Ask other stage managers, and you'll likely get variances, perhaps even some other people who see these questions submitted to the SMA.

Best of luck,
Erin Joy Swank , SMA Member
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