6 Key Tips for First-Time Student Stage Managers

6 Key Tips for First-Time Student Stage Managers
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    Unfortunately, there’s no particular guidebook on succeeding in the stage management industry.

    After all, every stage manager has their own methods and provides differing advice.


If you’re tackling this crucial production leadership role, you can look to these six key tips for first-time student stage managers, each from the compiled advice of experts.

Learn the Art of Remaining Calm

The most successful stage performers and managers have mastered the art of remaining calm during the storm. When crises occur, you need to manage the situation calmly. Never let anger or provocation get into your head when you encounter complicated conversations or dilemmas.

Remember that the stage manager is the production’s compass and thus should lead with ease, care, and groundedness.

Keep Things Organized

At the minimum, stage managers should have the following in their possession:

  • The show’s prompt book
  • Extra paper
  • Lots of pencils
  • Rehearsal music tracks

A proficient stage manager will also carry a flashlight, a stopwatch, safety pins, and an emergency kit. Plus, they should know where show essentials like props, set pieces, and costumes are at all times.

We understand that not every new student stage manager can juggle all these things or manage them effectively on their own. That’s okay! However, you should still make an effort to know where to find them in your performance spaces.

As a stage manager, it’s important to keep your stage, performance spaces, and theater prop tables organized.

Be Confident

You need to keep your chin up and walk on stage with your shoulders high to command the place. Know that you’re an essential part of the creative production team. Practice communicating with finesse and addressing the room with energy.

Doing so boosts the morale of your cast and instills confidence in them. Of course, it’s also wise to remember there’s a difference between yelling and speaking loudly.

To that end, the best stage managers get along with people and respect them. Remember that stage management is all about collaboration.

The people you respect are the most likely to invite you to another show. Therefore, one of the key tips for first-time student managers is simply doing your best to remain confident without becoming a jerk.

Take Care of Your Mental and Physical Health

As a stage manager, you need to make time for your self-care and health. Stage managing is complex and time-consuming. For this reason, the most successful stage managers go the extra mile to take care of themselves when not on stage.

Try to get enough sleep, eat well-balanced meals, hydrate, and find things that help you unwind, recharge, and disconnect. Keeping your head focused and body full of energy is vital in helping you manage the stage.

Find an Approach That Works for You

There are endless methodologies to stage management. Take some time to find techniques that work for you. The most successful approaches include delegating your weak areas to your colleagues and playing to your strengths instead.

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Also, keep in mind that what worked in your other projects may not make sense for the current one. It’s essential to always prepare for the current event with a system that fits your usual approach but still matches the work you’re doing at the time.

Always Be Flexible

Stage managers should remain flexible with their schedule and everything else in between. On and off the stage, things happen that are beyond your control. When they do, you should always look on the bright side and move with the flow.

If you walk into work and find that you should readjust choreography or add a scenic element, don’t spend too much time stressing about the change. Everyone in the company relies on the stage manager to make the production magic happen, and flexibility is a vital trait of any great stage manager!\

Image Credit: first-time student stage manager Adobe stock#206179483

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Categories: Personal Advice

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