Stage Management Duties

While stage management duties vary by both the institution and the production, below is a list of common stage management duties.


  • Review Institutional and/or Union Rules Regarding Production
  • Create a Contact Sheet
  • Create and Distribute Emergency Contact Forms
  • Create a Rehearsal Schedule w/ the Director
  • Get the Ground Plan and Dimensions of the Performance Space
  • Tape Out Ground Plan, To Scale, in Rehearsal Space
  • Distribute Rehearsal Schedule
  • Distribute Daily Rehearsal Calls
  • Figure out Specific Needs of Production (Knee Pads, Rosin, Music Stands, etc.)
  • Begin Communicating with Director and Design Team about Production Vision and Goals
  • Assist Production Manager in Planning First Production Meeting
  • Prepare you SM Kit
  • Prepare and Print YOUR Rehearsal Script
  • Find Out If You Need to Print the Company's Scripts

Rehearsal Process

  • Distribute Daily Rehearsal Calls
  • Collect Emergency Contact Forms
  • Call Breaks
    • 5 Minute Break AFTER 55 Minutes OR
    • 10 Minute Break AFTER 80 Minutes
  • Call Meal Breaks, If Rehearsal is Longer Than 5 Hours
  • Protect the Safety of the Cast
  • Record Blocking Notes
  • Notate Script/Score Changes
  • Distribute Script/Score Changes
  • Create Props List
  • Create Costume List
  • Record Prop Tracking
  • Record Quick Changes
  • Coordinate and Facilitate Communication within the Design Team
  • Send Rehearsal Reports
    • Rehearsal Time
    • Actor Called
    • Day's Work
    • Late Arrivals/Absences
    • Illnesses/Injuries
    • Notes for EACH Technical Department (including additions and alterations)
      • Scenic
      • Props
      • Lighting
      • Sound
      • Costumes
      • Projection
      • Hair/Makeup
    • Upcoming Events
      • Run-Throughs
      • Visiting Guests
      • Publicity

Tech Process

  • Lead Rehearsals of the Show, Stopping to Insert Design/Technical Elements (Automation Cues, Light Cues, Sound Cues, Music, Costumes, Quick Changes, Prop Hand Offs, Crossover Timing)
  • Record Position of All Cues
  • Create and Maintain the Calling Script w/ All Cue Information
  • Begin Calling Cues
  • Create and Distribute Preset Lists for Backstage Crew
  • Create and Distribute Run Sheets for Backstage Crew
  • Manage Backstage Crew
  • Organize Backstage Traffic
  • Find Solutions to Potential Safety Problems (Glow Tape on Dark Pieces, Covered Corners on Sharp Pieces)
  • Continue Sending Rehearsal Reports


  • Coordinate with Front of House to Open the House and Begin the Performance
  • Call the Show's Cues, Including:
    • Automated Scenery
    • Lights (may OR may not include Follow Spots cues)
    • Sounds
    • Projection
    • Orchestra
    • Actors
  • Maintain the artistic integrity (the director's vision) of the show
  • Run rehearsals to assist show maintenance
  • Runs rehearsal for all understudies/replacements
  • Update the Calling Script and
  • Update Preset Lists and Run Sheets
  • Send Performance Reports regarding with information including:
    • Late Arrivals/Absences
    • Illnesses/Injuries
    • Run Length
    • Audience Reaction
    • Issues with Scenery or Props
    • Issues with Costumes
    • Issues with Light Instruments or Board
    • Issues with Sound Equipment
    • Dropped Lines / Missed Cues / Show Error
    • Any Other Unusual Occurrences

While in the Theater, AEA Stage Managers Typically DO NOT*:

  • Move Scenery or Props
  • Operate Light, Sound, AV, or Automation boards
  • Order Food for the Company
  • Make Payroll or Distribute Salaries
  • Handle Contracts / Riders

*per AEA rules

In Non-AEA Houses, some of the aforementioned duties DO fall to the stage manager.

Other Guides

Here's an AMAZING excerpt from Dollar's guide:


  1. Learn From Mistakes. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes as we practice our crafts. The best thing anyone can do is to analyze these situations and learn how to avoid making the same mistake again.
  2. Don't Panic! Always remain calm, cool and collected. Never, Never yell. All Stage Managers should know the difference between raising their voices to be heard and yelling. If the Stage Manager loses it, everyone will panic.
  3. Safety First! The cast shouldn't set foot on the stage unless you would walk on it barefoot. Inspect the set daily for potential problems. Are all stairs and platforms secure? Are all escapes adequately lit and glow taped? Do you know where the first aid kits and fire extinguishers are located? Who is certified in CPR and First Aid? The SM should be!
  4. Plan & Think Ahead. What can be done to avoid problems? How can the Stage Managers make life easier for everyone?
  5. There Are No Dumb Questions. It is better to ask and fell silly for a few seconds than to cause a disaster later.
  6. Prioritize Tasks & Delegate Authority. One person can't do everything. Why do we have assistants if we don't use them?!
  7. Early Is On Time. The SM should always be the first person in and the last person out of the theatre for a meeting or rehearsal. I always try to show up about 15 minutes before I really think I need to be there, just in case traffic is bad or any problems or delays occur.
  8. Put Everything In Writing. In other words, be a communicator! Dated daily rehearsal notes aid in communication and help to avoid conflicts over when requests or changes were made. (Voice mail and email are also great forms of communication! Get a pager or cel phone so you are easy to reach at all times!)
  9. Please & Thank You. Use these word everyday, especially when you are working with volunteers.
  10. Stage Managers DO Make Coffee. They also do a million other menial tasks that are meant to make people happy and boost morale. Buy donuts, bake brownies, make sure birthdays are recognized, and hole-punch all paperwork. These little things are really appreciated by everyone.