When looking for a job, your best asset is your NETWORK. The people you know are the ones most likely to recommend you for a position. If you don’t think that you know anyone, below are some ways to build your network.
If you are interested in working at a particular venue or with a particular company, go to their website and find someone to email. If the company/venue has a resident PSM, email them. If not, try to email their General Manager or their HR Department. During your search, also check each website for their job listings page, in case they’re already looking for stage managers!
When emailing someone you do not already know, make sure to:
- Introduce Yourself
- State Your Intention (i.e. to work as a stage manager at X Company)
- Highlight Your Relevant Experience / Education
- Individualize- Do NOT Use a Form Letter
- Remember to be Polite, Courteous, and Formal
- MAKE SURE you have spelled the person's name CORRECTLY - a small mistake may lose you an opportunity.
- If you are sending similar content to several different people, MAKE SURE you have the right person on the right letter.
Letters at the Stage Door
A tradition of New York stage management, leaving a letter of interest at the theater's stage door is a classic (and classy) way to ask for a position. Professional stage managers receive many inquiries about jobs, so a physical letter and resume can set you apart from the crowd. When leaving a letter at the stage door, tell the doorman that it is more Stage Management. Make sure to research the correct names and spellings of the production's stage manager, as to properly address your letter.
Volunteer / Intern
While building your resume, its useful to offer your stage management service for free. Theatres and theatre companies are far more likely to allow a new stage manager into their organization if it does not cost them anything. Once you have your foot in the door, gaining experience and contacts, it will become easier to get a paying gig (hopefully at the very company you've been volunteering at!).
Join Theatre Organizations
Join Unions, Associations, and Facebook Groups. Job listings are often posted to smaller communities before they are put on Job-Listing Websites. Connection with other theatre professionals is the BEST way to get a job. You can also create your own stage management group in your area, in order to crowd-source opportunities, ask questions, and share information.
If you are in an organization, regularly check to see if they have any networking events scheduled for your area - the SMA has stage management get-togethers around the country! If you're in New York City, check out:
Ask to Shadow Backstage
A great way to meet new stage managers AND learn about the craft is to shadow the call or deck track of a running production. When contacting stage managers, one may request to shadow the production. There are many productions in which a stage manager cannot allow shadowing, due to a complicated, dangerous, or cramped deck, so do not take it personally if your request is denied. However, most professional stage managers enjoy sharing their craft with newcomers and welcome guests.