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Stage Manager’s Kit

Stage Directions’ blog about all things related to Stage Management

  • When Emergencies Are Too Big for an SM Kit

    David J. McGraw | Stage Manager’s Kit | June 4, 2018I am both unlucky and lucky when it comes to natural disasters. I am unlucky in the frequency of show-related disasters, but lucky in that there have been no serious injuries. There was the Opening Night tornado that transformed my station wagon into a convertible. Or the Valentine’s Day when an overnight fire in the venue’s ventilation system was caught by the cleaning crew but if I never see another bottle of Febreze, it will be too soon. Read More...
  • 2017 SM Survey Results!

    David J. McGraw | Stage Manager’s Kit | February 19, 2018The 2017 Stage Manager Survey Report is now available. My assistant and I tried to let the data speak for itself, noting only the trends and potential contributing factors. But we know that, by distilling the data into a report, we also prioritized some of the information and de-emphasized or omitted other information. Read More...
  • I Hate to Admit It, but I Miss Tiny Tim

    David J. McGraw | Stage Manager’s Kit | December 12, 2017Like counting the rings of a tree trunk, you can often determine an SM’s age by asking how many Christmas Carols/Nutcrackers they have managed. Unlike other theatrical and dance classics, these shows are cash cows with a very limited lifespan, so managing these holiday chestnuts usually means packed schedules with lots of overtime. I remember feeling a sense of comradery with the old “time to make the donuts” commercials every time Marley or a toy soldier hit the stage. Read More...
  • Backstage at the SM Survey

    SM Group | Stage Manager’s Kit | November 6, 2017Every two years, a national study begins in early November: The Stage Manager Survey. This 3-week survey has evolved over the past decade into the largest study of stage managers in the United States and, quite possibly, the world. At just five days into the 2017 survey, we have already surpassed the participation count of the 2013 but are still hunting the record turnout of 2015. So let’s look behind the scenes into the survey. Read More...
  • Everything Changes? Or Nothing?

    David J. McGraw | Stage Manager’s Kit | October 24, 2017Last week Actors’ Equity Association announced a major change to the Equity Membership Candidate (EMC) program. The stated goal of the change is to modernize the EMC program and to advance stage managers and actors from EMC status to full membership more quickly. Previously, AEA membership could be earned by accumulating 50 points, one point for each week you apprenticed on a show with Equity stage managers. Now SMs can become AEA members after just 25 weeks at EMC-participating companies.* So what does this mean for stage managers? Read More...
  • The Honor of a Stage Manager

    David J. McGraw | Stage Manager’s Kit | October 10, 2017On this International Stage Managers Day (October 10th or 10/10 to use the British shorthand for Tech like the American 10-out-of-12), we honor stage managers. I will never turn down a gift of chocolate and, although I will squirm and potentially blush when receiving praise, it does make me feel good to hear that another artist appreciates my work. I love hearing stories about magic SM kits that can produce the most obscure but absolutely necessary object. And SM jokes are usually very dry (“How many SMs does it take to-- Done.”) or end with fools getting their karmic comeuppance (the SM getting the third wish from a genie is my favorite).  But I would like to use this special day for honoring stage managers to consider the stage manager’s honor. Read More...
  • Questions for the 2017 SM Survey?

    David J. McGraw | Stage Manager’s Kit | September 25, 2017Rehearsing the 2017 SM Survey It is nearly time for the Stage Manager Survey! Started in 2006, the 6th edition of this now biennial study of American stage managers will start in November. As we prepare for the survey launch, we want to know if there are any questions that you would like to see asked in the 2017 survey. Read More...
  • Onboarding Past Prep Week

    David J. McGraw | Stage Manager’s Kit | September 13, 2017As the seasons change and we put away our summer show-blacks for our warmer show-blacks (please tell me I am not the only stage manager who divides his all-black wardrobe by season) it is also time to train our new staff. Whether working for regional theaters, tours, universities, or the constantly changing Broadway, Fall is the season of new staffing. Stage managers are very good at training understudies and new crew, but how good are we at training our own teams? Read More...
  • Standing in the Dark Project

    David J. McGraw | Stage Manager’s Kit | August 9, 2017Standing in the Dark “Name a famous stage manager!” I suspect that many of us (A) have never been asked this question, (B) want clarification as to what makes a stage manager famous, and (C) probably default to a stage manager with a lengthy career on Broadway. But who are the pioneers in our field and what are their stories? The Stage Managers’ Association is looking for the answers. Read More...
  • How to Say Goodbye to a Show

    David J. McGraw | Stage Manager’s Kit | July 4, 2017One of the perks of a life in theatre is the near-constant stream of collaborators.  But for every “hello” there is soon a “goodbye.” This is especially true for me this past week as I saw the close of my summer show and I gave my notice to the University of Iowa, where I have taught for the past 14 years.  Sometimes the goodbyes are right on schedule as you knew the show closing date when you took on the contract; other times you are forced to decide when it is time to move on. Read More...
  • Overstocking Our Pond?

    David J. McGraw | Stage Manager’s Kit | May 26, 2017I’ll give credit to social media for one thing: it allows you to see if others are facing the same problems. Recently there was an online discussion about shadowing, a topic near and dear to me, not just as a training tool for new stage managers but also as an opportunity for established stage managers to reflect. Nothing like having company over to motivate you to clean up your place/calling station/callboard/promptbook! Read More...
  • Why Study the History of Stage Management?

    Jennifer Leigh Sears Scheier | Stage Manager’s Kit | April 27, 2017[As long-time readers know, the Stage Manager’s Kit is written by several stage managers.  We welcome back Jennifer Leigh Sears Scheier ] This past August I started a PhD program studying the History of Stage Management. As far as I can tell, I may be the only PhD student focused on stage management. Read More...
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