Job titles in theatrical productions can be somewhat fluid, with details varying by region, type of theatre and production company. In some instances, there is no difference between a production stage manager and a stage manager. In others, the title production stage manager denotes a stage management role with a higher level of responsibility and additional duties such as managing overall production tasks and supervising other stage management staff.
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Production stage managers are most common in theatres that produce multiple shows at once or act as a venue for touring shows. In these instances, the venue's production stage manager oversees the stage managers for individual shows, making sure each production runs smoothly in the overall work flow of the theatre. The production stage manager also ensures that rehearsals and performances adhere to the rules of the Actor's Equity Association, the union that protects actors' working conditions.
Production stage managers generally fulfil the basic stage management duties of assisting the director throughout the rehearsal process and taking control of the show on opening night to maintain the director's vision throughout the production run. They also maintain calendars and schedules, note the show's blocking (where actors move and stand), coordinate light and sound cues and scenery changes and make sure communication remains open.
When the production stage manager is assigned general production management duties, these may include working on promotions for the show or planning and enforcing production budgets. Production management duties also include working with visiting staff to coordinate shows in the production stage manager's venue and scheduling in-house staff to work on visiting productions.
Production stage managers often act as mentors or trainers, both by training new stage managers in the field if the venue caters to amateur or student productions and by guiding experienced visiting stage managers through the policies and procedures peculiar to the venue.
Division of Labor
A production stage manager's time may be divided between work with the actors, paperwork and meetings, and additional duties such as promotional efforts. The balance among these tasks shifts according to the point of the production cycle. Early in a production, most of the production stage manager's time will be spent analysing the script, meeting with the director and other production crew members and organising the show's needs such as rehearsal space and permits. Once rehearsals begin, the stage manager may spend the bulk of her time preparing for, attending and cleaning up after rehearsals. Once the show is running, the production stage manager becomes the primary person responsible for ensuring everything runs smoothly during the show, but other duties do not occupy her time so her work days may become shorter during this period.
Production stage managers tend to work highly varied schedules. Because they are generally employed by larger companies or shows, it is often a full-time job that can require up to 85 hours per week. Evening and weekend work is common, and Monday is the standard day off in the theatre world. Production stage managers on touring shows may remain involved with the production seven days a week as they prepare the way for each venue the tour visits.
Education and Compensation
A bachelor's degree in theatre is useful for production stage managers, but not generally required. However, technical theatre experience is crucial, so job seekers often begin as volunteer assistant stage managers, interns or general theatre volunteers and work their way up. Production stage managers may be paid by the hour, salaried or paid per project, the latter being most common for touring productions. As of May 2010, annual salaries for stage managers ranged from £16,032 to £28,211, while production managers earned between £21,542 and £36,349, according to PayScale.com. Production stage managers may fall within either of these ranges, depending on specific duties, location and type of production.
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