top of page

the role of the STAGE MANAGER

If you chose to serve as a  STAGE MANAGER (or ASM) for this semester's Advanced Acting show, you are responsible for participating in design team meetings as well as growing as a leader during the rehearsal and performance process.


If serving as a SM or ASM, you are ALSO responsible for independently learning about the role of a stage manager as outlined below. 


Please be sure you have your Acting/Design Binder (to collect/document your learning) and your  Process Journal (to reflect on your process/journey).

learning about STAGE MANAGEMENT



Video:  Working in Theatre: Stage Manager (3:21)

Journal Entry:  Role of an SM

  1. What is the role of a stage manager? (stated right away - list as stated)

  2. What does an SM work with director to do?  (big picture - stated early)

  3. What types of things does an SM do in the rehearsal space?

  4. What types of things does an SM do when it gets to tech weeks?

  5. What does an SM do once it gets to shows?

Video: The Stage Manager - In the Wings - Stagecraft 101 (6:07)

Journal Entry:  Role of an SM

  1. What IS the stage manager as described at the beginning of the video?

  2. The SM exists to assist director with what?

  3. Who is responsible after the Director "leaves"? What is her/his role at that point?

  4. What metaphor is used to describe the SM in this video? (S)he is the....?

  5. What are the names of the two types of scripts that an SM uses?

  6. What additional roles does an SM have on nights of the show?

Video:  Kinky Boots Team Introduces Us to Life as a Stage Manager (4:01)

Journal Entry:  Responsibilities of a SM

  1. What 3 types of SM's might be included in larger or professional theatre? 

  2. What tasks/jobs did you notice (or hear about) an SM doing in this video?

  3. What do ACTORS want out of a stage manager (as stated or implied)?

  4. What "life/people skills" are helpful for an SM to have? (Think about what they do a lot of.)

Video:  What's in a Stage Manager's Prompt Book (aka SM's Bible) (8:40)

Journal Entry:  SM's Prompt Book

​(Take detailed notes on what should be in your Prompt book, and how to best organize it.)

(Note: How many copies of the script should you have and why?)

Notes:  Blocking Shorthand (print and put in your binder - use these symbols or your own to write blocking quickly)

Video:  Stage Manager's Prep Week (7:02)

Journal Entry:  What should an SM do to prepare BEFORE rehearsals?

1. Take detailed notes on what an SM should do to communicate with the team before rehearsals?

2. Take detailed notes on what paperwork an SM should do/prepare before rehearsals?

Video:  Adventures Backstage: My Stage Manager's Bag (7:38)

Journal Entry:  What to include in an SM bag

1. Take detailed notes on what you should include in an SM kit/bag that you have at rehearsals daily.  (Note:  See KP if you need $ for supplies or a physical kit to store your supplies.)

2. WHO is the SM's kit for?  

Task (Formative Grade):  AFTER learning all of the above, create/prepare your own PROMPT BOOK prior to the first rehearsal by following these directions:  How To Prepare a Stage Manager's Prompt Book  (leave plenty of time for this task!)

Task (part of above Formative Grade):  Create/Print (Google sheets) of the following:

1.)  Cast list (Role / Actor's Name)

2.)  Contact Sheet (Each class member's  name, role, cell number, and e-mail; list names alphabetically by last name)

3.) Sign-in Sheets (Names & days for signing-in; different sheets for each week; non-class days blacked out)

4.) Rehearsal Calendar (get from KP - print and put in binder)

5.) Each team's Deadline Calendars as well (print from each team and put in binder)

6.) Prop Team's Props List Spreadsheet (print from props team and put in binder)



The design PROCESS starts with the script.  All designers must  read the script. Realistic and interesting designs can not be created without knowing exactly what the script requires.


Once  the NEEDS of the script are determined, all designers take the time to  INTERPRET the script:  What does it MEAN?  What's MOST IMPORTANT to convey through design?  What is the HEART of the production?  What should it FEEL like? What's the THEME?  Is there a STYLE that should be considered when designing?  Is there an important or implied METAPHOR that could be shown through design?  What COLORS, IMAGES, and COMPOSITION on stage may best support the director's telling of the story?

Watch the video below in which Tony-winning set designer Bunny Christie shares her design for the play, INK.  Notice all the ways that she references the feeling, mood, and heart of the production which she reflected in her design.


Video:  Design on Stage (Bunny Christie)

Journal Entry:  Reflections on Design (Ink)

  1. What did YOU find visually interesting in Bunny Christie's design?  Why?

  2. In what ways did the designer's SCRIPT INTERPRETATION and/or RESEARCH assist in the creation of her final design?  (List at least 3 specific ways.)

After a designer has INTERPRETED the script (which is shared/discussed with the director), (s)he then goes                                      in search of  rESEARCH & INSPIRATION for the design.  This is often done by researching various aspects of the script/story, including the setting, the time period, historical references within the script, the style or genre of the piece, photos from the time period or setting, source material, etc.  A designer may also research her/his own ideas for design.  See an example of what I mean by this HERE.

For the next part of the Design Process, each Design Team will be creating a Design Board to visually display their research/inspiration.  This task is NOT required for the Stage Manager.  In lieu of this assignment, you are asked to keep an accurate and organized Prompt book throughout the production process.

Task (Summative Grade):  YOUR Prompt Book / Reliability in Rehearsals

 THROUGHOUT the rehearsal process, you must keep an organized and accurate prompt book.  This includes accurate blocking, up-to-date sign-in records, up-to-date calendars (with any conflicts), and thorough/accurate cast & crew assignments and contact sheets.  It is the role of the SM to be organized and trustworthy for the director, actors, and design teams. Much of this is achieved through your attendance, attention, and reliability in rehearsals.  (Note:  Cell phones are almost never appropriate for an SM to be on in a rehearsal space.)


Tech/Dress Deadline (Formative Grade):   Prior to Dress/Tech rehearsals, all performance cues (lights, sound, etc.) must be in your Show Binder.  Because you will be calling a Black Box show, you will most likely not be calling cues in the same way it's done on a proscenium stage, however, you are still responsible for the accurate rehearsal and execution of all cues.   It's preferable that a dry run (with your tech team) has been completed PRIOR to the first tech rehearsal, in order to ensure that the first tech rehearsal runs more smoothly and everyone's time is respected.

Watch:  What to do to prepare for Tech Rehearsals (Paper Tech, Cue Lists, Prompt Book, Tech Scripts, Calling Cues)


Video:  Behind the Scenes at Disney's Aladdin

Journal Entry:  Calltime​ / Pre-Show Checklist

1. In professional theatre, as shown in this video, what are the (specific) tasks performed by YOUR (assigned) role prior to a show?  

2.  What are some of the things that YOU could put on YOUR Pre-Show checklist to be sure our show runs smoothly?  (Think of ALL the things necessary from the time you enter the black box until the show starts, including things like "Where do I put my personal belongings?" or "Where should this prop be pre-set?" or "What's the best place for this quick change to happen?" Etc.  Don't forget to include "sign in" on your checklist.)

Task (Formative Grade):  You will create YOUR Pre-Show Checklist with ALL tasks to consider prior to the show.  This MUST be well-thought out and placed in your show binder up PRIOR to the FIRST dress/tech rehearsal.  Type and print your checklist.  (Keep in mind that you will most likely need to add to this list from things you learn or are reminded of in dress/tech rehearsals.)


Task (SUMMATIVE Grade):  YOUR completed role as SM (from dress/tech rehearsals through strike)


GO DEEPER (optional):


(This list will be added to over time.  Let KP know if you find any helpful information that could be useful to future Advanced Acting students.)


bottom of page