Stage managers makes sure the sets, equipment and props are ready for the opening of a performance.

What does a stage manager do?

You would make sure live stage performances run smoothly. You would organise all practical and technical aspects of rehearsals and shows, and make sure all crew and performers are in the right place at the right time.

You would typically be supported by a deputy stage manager and one or two assistant stage managers, although on smaller productions you might work alone. You and your team would:

  • organise rehearsals
  • work with staff to plan wardrobe, set design, scene changes, sound and lighting
  • manage the props budget and organise props and set dressing
  • keep the ‘prompt copy’ of the script, which notes the performers’ positions on stage, script changes, and the props, lighting and sound needed for each scene
  • liaise with theatre managers and front-of-house staff
  • supervise the 'get in' and ‘get out’ – the times when sets and equipment are set up before the show and taken down afterwards
  • give cues for the performers to go on stage
  • cue the technical crew for sound and lighting effects

You might also join in with putting up the set and any other practical tasks, particularly in smaller companies or at the start of your career.

What do I need to do to become a stage manager?

A common way is to take a diploma, foundation degree or degree in stage management, or a closely related subject. Qualifications include:

  • Level 4 HNC Diploma in Performing Arts (Production)
  • foundation degrees and degrees in theatre practice, technical theatre or stage management

Check exact entry requirements with course providers.

You’ll often need practical backstage experience to apply for a course. You can get relevant experience from student, amateur or community theatre, or from working as a casual stagehand in local theatre venues.

Alternatively, you may be able to move into stage management after training as an actor or by working your way up through backstage work.

Related skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Financial planning
  • Interpersonal skills
  • IT
  • Leadership
  • Organisation
  • Patience

Academic route

  • Foundation degree or degree in a related subject such as theatre practice, technical theatre or stage management
  • HNC in Performing Arts (Production)

Related subjects

  • Drama, music, and performing arts

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You might be permanently based at one venue, or you might travel to different venues when on tour. A driving licence may be needed for some jobs. 

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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