Stage Management

Created by Karen Loftus

A unit on stage management is a great way to link technical theatre, acting, and even directing. We spend so much of our class time on performance-related projects and, when we do address technical theatre, we often do so by talking about design.

Why not introduce your students to a skill set that not only benefits your productions by ensuring a strong backstage crew and smooth production process, but also benefits the students individually? Through exploring stage management, students learn skills such as analytical thinking, organization, teamwork, and problem solving.

The overview provides an outline of the 10 lessons in this unit as well as a vocabulary reference guide.
1: What is a Stage Manager
In this lesson students are introduced to the definition of a stage manager, learn what a stage management team may look like, and take on their first stage management tasks: reading the script and creating a props list.
2: Paperwork and the Prompt Script
One goal of a stage manager is to prepare all of the necessary information to ensure a successful production. For example: character/scene breakdown, prop list, light cues, schedules. In this lesson, students practice creating a number of documents which every stage manager keeps in their prompt script.
3: Preparing for the First Rehearsal
Along with paperwork, there are other tasks a stage manager must undertake to prepare for rehearsal. Students will perform tasks that a stage manager must carry out to prepare the rehearsal space and communicate with actors/crew.
4: Rehearsals Part One: Responsibilities
In this lesson, students practice some of the rehearsal responsibilities of a stage manager such as keeping rehearsals running on time through proper communication, line notes, and completing a rehearsal report.
5: Rehearsals Part Two: Tracking
In this lesson, students practice some of the tracking tasks required of the stage manager in rehearsal: blocking, scene shifts, and props/costumes.
6: Rehearsals Part Three: Final Preparations
In this lesson, students will explore the final preparations stage managers perform before heading into performance, and they go through a scheduling exercise.
7: Technical Rehearsals
The stage manager is the guiding force behind a technical rehearsal. In this lesson we will go through a number of different technical rehearsals and how a stage manager uses their preparation to keep a technical rehearsal moving.
8: Calling a Show
Calling cues requires the ability to analyze, strategize, and problem solve. Calling cues becomes easier each time, but every show is different and presents new challenges. In this lesson, students practice the act of calling a show. What are the types of cues that can be used? How are they notated in a script?
9: The Run of a Show
During the run of a show, whether it’s one night or a show that runs for years, the stage manager is in charge. In this lesson, students will complete a performance problem-solving exercise, tackle performance reports, and reflect on whether or not they’d make a good stage manager.
10: Culminating Project
In this culminating project, students are put into groups to create the stage management elements for a new “production” of Jabberwocky, the poem by Lewis Carroll.

Standards Addressed

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