The most commonly desired position in TEC is the Stage Manager. A lot of people tend to think it’s the toughest job to get because you have to know everything. This could not be further from the truth. While a big chunk of knowledge about technical theater is definitely useful, what makes stage managing tough is the huge amount of responsibility you’re given. As Stage Manager, you’re required to be an example to every one of your crewmembers. You’re required to work as hard as you can to put on the best show possible. You’re required to be unafraid of the challenges you’ll face. But most importantly, you’re required to do your best.
One of the biggest challenges I face as a stage manager is stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m not a shouty person—my voice doesn’t carry and I don’t’ like when people yell at me—so when I learned on my first show that I would have to call times to the actors for their places (30 minutes till places, 15 minutes till places, etc.) I was a little apprehensive about it. The first time I did it was actually kind of funny—about four people actually heard me. I quickly realized that if I wanted these actors to respect me, I’d have to get over my hesitation to yell and be a lot louder.
Another way I’ve been required to step out of my comfort zone is keeping my crewmembers accountable for their responsibilities. If I had a crewmember who was late to rehearsal or neglected to do their job, it was my responsibility to handle it maturely and professionally. Pointing out what someone is doing wrong has never been a favorite thing of mine, so having to do that was tough for me to do.
Another challenge of mine as Stage Manager is responsibility. As just a crewmember, I’m very used to relying on other people to answer my questions and handle big problems. But when you’re the Stage Manager, you have to be the one everyone else relies on. You are the one people go to for questions, decisions, and opinions. Just about everything is up to you. This may seem really daunting (and believe me, it is), but to me, that’s one of the most rewarding parts of stage managing. When you’re faced with a terrifying situation, you face your fears and take on the challenge, and chances are good that you’ll come out with victory.
With stage managing comes massive amounts of pressure. Countless people are relying on you to do everything right and to put on the best show possible (at least that’s how it feels). All that pressure can be tough to handle, but it’s all worth it when you have an awesome crew supporting you through it all. All three of my crews, from Once Upon A Time to Spring Revue 2010 to The Government Inspector, were great groups of people who all gave me oodles of support and appreciation for the job I did.
The pressure can also make one tiny mistake seem like the end of the world. What I’ve realized is that you can’t expect yourself to be perfect, you just have to expect yourself to do your best. As backwards as this may seem, stage managing is actually a very humbling job, despite the power you’re given. You’re forced to accept the fact that the best you can do is the best you can do, and that’s all you can do about it. It’s also a very challenging job, because it requires you to find out just how good your best can be.
While Stage Manager is a job that comes with huge amounts of responsibility and stress, it’s one of the most rewarding and fun jobs I’ve ever had the chance to do. I’ve learned so much from the three shows I’ve stage managed, as well as from SM’s from other shows. I’ve gained so much more respect for tech theater, because I’ve seen first-hand just how tough it can be. I would encourage everyone to try stage managing at least once in your life, no matter how big or small the show. It’s an incredible experience, and it’s certainly one that you won’t regret.