Examples Of Stage Management Skills And How To Improve Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A stage manager is in charge of production for theatre shows. They mainly look after the technical aspects of production, such as dress rehearsals, lighting, sound and costumes. Stage managers need both hard and soft skills to accomplish their production tasks. In this article, we discuss who a stage manager is, share some examples of skills related to stage management, ways you can improve them and how you can highlight them.

What Are Stage Management Skills?

Stage management skills are the soft and hard skills required to manage a theatre production. They use them to manage their team, coordinate different tasks and lead the crew. A stage manager needs a special set of skills to perform their duties well.

Who Is A Stage Manager?

A stage manager is a professional who oversees all the technical aspects of theatre production. They work with the director and deputy stage managers to manage different elements involved in production. Using their problem-solving and communication skills, they smoothly carry out the processes leading to the final show. They usually have a BFA or MFA degree in performing arts, which might be helpful on their resume but is not mandatory. Experience plays a vital role in helping them secure jobs in the industry.

Examples Of Stage Management Skills

Here are some examples of stage manager skills you can learn to be successful in your career:

Organisation

Being a stage manager requires you to focus on all elements of production. Doing this effectively requires some organisation skills from the beginning to avoid any mishaps. Planning your tasks and managing them can certainly help you accomplish your goals. Some last-minute changes may still happen, but you can reduce their impact on the production plan through organisation.

Every stage manager usually has a copy of the script along with rehearsal schedules, lighting requirements, sound cues and other production needs. Proceeding with an organised mindset allows you to manage all these together in a simpler way.

Communication

Communication is one of the most crucial skills for a stage manager. They regularly communicate with cast members, crew, directors, make-up artists and the costume team. It is essential that they explain concepts and plans to team members clearly and on time. In addition to this, they also create schedules and budgets for the team after discussions. To do this, they may listen to team members' requirements patiently and communicate their own views at the time.

Read more: Communication Skills In Leadership: Importance And Benefits

Attention to detail

Strong attention to detail can help a stage manager plan a play smoothly. As a stage manager, you give cues to the crew members and performers during rehearsal and the day of the performance. If you pay attention to the show's details, you can give these cues on time. It also helps avoid any errors at the last minute.

Patience

As a stage manager, you work with a diverse group of people with distinct personalities. It may require you to review their performances multiple times and give them constructive feedback. Developing patience as a skill can help you do this effectively. The production also requires many changes that you can make with a patient mindset.

Empathy

Throughout the production process, you and your team might face some challenges. At such a time, empathy can help you connect with crew members and understand their issues. Building a healthy relationship with them is an essential part of being a good leader, and empathy can help you become one. You can practice this skill by putting yourself in their situation and understanding their point of view.

Problem solving

As we discussed earlier, you may face some challenges as a stage manager. Having problem-solving abilities can help you come up with solutions to such challenges. A good stage manager studies the problem, maps out a strategy and implements a solution.

Computer and technical skills

Being a stage manager, you create budgets, schedules and scripts with different software. To make these effective, you might require a basic knowledge of computers. In addition to this, stage managers also monitor technical aspects of production, like lighting and sound. Having technical knowledge of these aspects can help you inspect them well.

Management

A stage manager has duties from the audition and rehearsals up to the actual show day. They constantly guide their team, lead daily tasks and coordinate with multiple crew members. It is necessary for you to have strong management skills to allot tasks and ensure that everyone is aware of their daily goals. Delegation and conflict resolution are also essential parts of management.

Leadership

As a stage manager, it is a part of your duties to motivate and inspire your crew members. Leadership skills can help you do so by maintaining positivity within the team. You can be someone the crew can depend on. A good leader provides constructive feedback to the cast during rehearsal so they may improvise.

How To Improve Stage Management Skills

Consider following these tips to help you develop your skills related to stage management:

1. Take theatre classes

A theatre class is one of the most effective ways to develop technical expertise. You may consider enrolling in a local institute or a theatre in your area and see available courses. Some institutes offer stage management, acting, costume, lighting and set design courses.

2. Gain backstage experience

Working backstage as a deputy stage manager before advancing your career can help you gain skills that apply to stage management. You may find opportunities in local institutes and theatres with small-scale productions. Use this opportunity to learn technical and communication skills from your peers.

3. Explore internship experience

Some entertainment companies offer internships to young professionals. Internships are a good way to develop organisational skills and learn the essentials of stage management. You may also list these experiences in your resume to help you secure your first job.

Read more: How To Become An Actor: A Complete Guide

4. Consider additional education

Although a degree in performing arts is not mandatory, it can be helpful in your career as a stage manager. Stage managers may pursue a bachelor's in performing arts or theatre management. A master's in performing arts or fine arts is a good option if you want to study further.

5. Work in different teams

Stage managers manage different aspects of production, including lighting and design. It is crucial for you to understand the processes of each team to manage them effectively. It is good to volunteer with multiple production and theatre teams to improve your skills. Gaining experience as a production crew member, actor or set designer can help you improve your stage management skills.

How To Highlight Stage Manager Skills

There are several ways you highlight your stage manager skills when applying for new roles. Here are three ways you can show your skills:

1. Add your skills to your resume

Your resume is an opportunity to highlight your stage manager skills during the initial screening process. You can alter the skills section of your resume as per the requirements listed in the job description. For instance, you can add your soft skills, such as communication, organisation and empathy. You can also add technical production skills, such as sound, lighting or budgeting.

2. Discuss your skills in a cover letter

You can use your cover letter to provide more details about your skills and experience as a stage manager. You may start by talking about your education and follow by listing your work experience. For example, if you mention your computer skills, you can provide an example of when you helped your team make scripts. Adding your theatre experience can also help to impress your recruiter.

3. Mention your skills in an interview

An interview is the best opportunity to showcase your stage manager skills. Use this opportunity to prove that you can communicate well with confidence. If an interviewer asks about your experience, talk about when you managed shows on your own in the past.

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