The Stage Manager

Definitions

Stage management is the position within a production that organizes and coordinates all theatrical departments during rehearsals then runs the show during performances. Typically, stage managers work in a team and delegate their duties according to each member's particular strengths. Stage management teams can vary in size, oftentimes being as small as one person. Each production will have different needs for its stage management team and will staff accordingly. Moreover, different theatres may choose to use different terminology (NOTE: UK stage managers have a completely different role breakdown). A stage management team can include, in hierarchical order:

Production Stage Manager (PSM)

  • "The SM has a unique function because of the dual role: during the rehearsal period the SM provides support/assistance to the director and production team; during the actual performance period, the SM takes charge of the production. In addition to the requirements common to all productions, each show will have its own unique challenges. The duties and responsibilities listed here are, by the nature of the position, incomplete; they serve as a guide to help create a successful experience [...] While the director is responsible for what happens onstage and has artistic control of a production, the SM is responsible for how it happens and has complete working control of a production to ensure the integrity of the show as created by the director." - Langham Court Theatre SM Handbook

  • In commercial theatre, I define a stage manager as that person, who is a member of Actor's Equity Association, who is responsible for everything upstage of the Proscenium Arch. Which means: anything technical, anything in terms of the welfare of the actors, anything about safety, and anything about maintaining the production, artistically and technically. I feel that the stage manager is the one and only person in a production who understands everything about that production: artistic, literary, technical, managerial, and psychological" - Peter Lawrence, Broadway PSM & 2013 Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre Recipient

Assistant Stage Manager (ASM)

  • "The Assistant Stage Manager reports to the Stage Manager. The ASM, like the SM, fills a dual role: during rehearsals, they are likely to be responsible for all sorts of routine support from placement of props and set furnishings to making the coffee and tea; assisting with prompting or taking blocking notes. During performances, the ASM is usually assigned to be in charge of backstage, overseeing the stage crew and ensuring all technical aspects occurring onstage and in the wings are taken care of." - Langham Court Theatre SM Handbook
  • The ASM is an ancillary assigned to aid in any way necessary to facilitate the smooth run of rehearsals and performances. This means that the specific responsibilities will depend solely on the needs of the production and staff. - Get in Media: Entertainment Careers

Production Assistant (PA)

  • The PA typically tidies the rehearsal space, sharpens pencils, runs necessary errands, and performs any stage management tasks delegated to them by the PSM. It is typical for a PA to be assigned the task of maintaining an updated script or score for the SM team and/or the entire company. This position and serves as an entry point to the industry for young professionals.
  • "The classic foot-in-the-door job of production assistant (PA) is less of a career and more of a stepping stone." - Study.com