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YSM2020 – 100 Years of Being Explicit

Jennifer Leigh Sears Scheier • Stage Management History • January 2, 2020

2020 is the Year of the Stage Manager

Happy New Year!

In case you haven’t heard, 2020 is the year of the stage manager with the intent to celebrate and educate!

Why 2020? Because 100 years ago, on February 16, 1920, the executive council of Actor’s Equity Association carried a motion that changed the contractual language to include Stage Managers and Assistant Stage Managers. A producer named Romberg had released the Assistant Stage Manager (Van Ness) without two-weeks’ notice, violating the AEA contract that they had signed. (Original post here:

While I haven’t found the arbitration case at the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives (home of much of AEA’s archival material), I would bet my bottom dollar that the arbitration case lost or came close to losing, which prompted AEA’s executive council to put forth and carry the motion. While I have no doubt that AEA had always intended to include stage managers in the union (mostly because of their acting heritage), the producers thought differently. After this motion passed, AEA changed the language of the next contract in 1924, explicitly stating that stage managers and assistant stage managers were to be included in the company and subject to the regulations and contractual obligations put-forth in the agreement.

History makes it pretty hard to trace what might have been the “first” stage management AEA contract since stage managers were on AEA contracts before this language passed. Instead, let’s celebrate this centennial milestone which explicitly added stage managers to AEA’s contractual agreement, cementing the relationship between stage managers and their union.

Know a stage manager? Love a stage manager? Or perhaps you are a stage manager? Join the celebration by sharing stage management content near and far!

Each month will also have a theme to generate new content for our community.

January: What is Stage Management?
February: Advocacy & Community
March: Diversity & Inclusion
April: Parenting & Dependents
May: Awards & Recognition
June: Self-Care
July: Skillset & Possibilities
August: Politics & Livelihood
September: Training & Resources
October: International Stage Management
November: Financial Planning & Life Transitions
December: Looking Ahead to the Future of Stage Management

Follow on Instagram at SMInsta2020, where stage managers all around the world will be hosting Instagram Takeovers each and every day!

When sharing on social media, don’t forget to use the hashtag #YearOfTheStageManager or #YSM2020




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