What’s the job?
Who would I be working for?
In this role you could be hired for a specific show, or be part of the residential team in one of the thousand theatres that we have across the UK.
What do they do?
The stage manager is the glue that holds a production together. They are in charge of all that goes on backstage and organise the cast, sets and props. They also tell the sound and lighting desks what the cues are for the show.
What sort of work is involved?
- You’ll need to make sure that all crew and performers are in the right place at the right time.
- Managing the assistant and deputy stage managers.
- Working with the staff to plan wardrobe and scene changes, as well as when to cue the lighting and sound engineers.
- Checking that the theatre is safe for the actors and crew to work in, which means conducting regular health and safety checks.
- Managing the rehearsals during the day with the cast.
What skills do I need?
- Good planning, organisational and leadership skills, because you’ll be managing a team as well as completing your own jobs.
- You’ll need to be confident at decision making, as people will be coming to you with lots of different questions.
- Being able to multi-task and think on your feet is very important.
- The ability to remain calm under pressure.
- Attention to detail is also essential.
- Strong IT and budget management skills will come in useful when you’re deciding what props to buy and replace.
What qualifications do I need?
There is no set way into stage management. You can work your way up through backstage work and being a stagehand (someone who helps with moving sets and props). A degree or diploma in stage management or technical theatre does help, and there are also apprenticeships available in stage management, where you will work in a theatre while gaining a qualification.
What hours would I work?
Your hours can be long and quite unsociable, as you’ll be the last person to the leave the theatre each night. You’ll have to attend meetings and rehearsals during the day, and then be ready for the evening performances.
Where would I work?
You might be based at one venue, or you might travel to different venues while on tour. A driving licence might be needed for some jobs.
How much would I get paid?
When starting out, you could be earning £18-22,000 per year, but with experience you could be earning £25-35,000 per year. Once you’ve become highly experienced, stage managers can earn £45,000 or more.
Can I do work experience?
All theatres are different, but it’s always worth asking your local theatre, as some do offer work experience placements. Unfortunately, it’s much easier to get a place if you’re over 18. But helping out with your school play or other amateur productions will be great experience, and it’ll help to show that you have a passion for theatre.
How might the job change in the future?
Larger theatres with bigger budgets might have more technology available that will allow digital sets to be created that look ultra-realistic and help to immerse the audience in the show more, so the stage manager might need to learn some new skills when it comes to looking after sets.