The stage manager is a major role and key to the success of the production. As the stage manager, you are responsible for the general organization of the cast and rehearsals, and once the show opens, you are responsible for the running of each performance. It is a time-consuming role but ultimately very rewarding.

Before Auditions

Check the RLT volunteer site for the names of the people who will form the production staff for your performance. If there are positions vacant, contact the coordinators for each position and find out what the status is of recruiting someone. If there isn’t a coordinator, contact the Technical Director.

The rltvolunteers.org Web Master (currently David Watts) should be given all updates concerning the Production Staff so the RLT volunteer site information can be updated.

Contact your production staff to verify their contact details – phone numbers and email addresses.

Contact the Director. Give him or her your phone numbers. Talk about any schedule conflicts you may have even though you are expected to be here every day of the entire process. Discuss any help that will be required during the audition process.

Contact the audition coordinator who will be running the actual auditions, and gain an understanding of what will happen at auditions (if you don’t already know). The audition coordinator runs the auditions, so your role during auditions may be to just watch the auditions and provide feedback to the director about potential cast members.


Auditions are run by the audition coordinator. Ask him or her what you can do to help. Greet nervous actors gently, they bite! Watch the auditions and movement auditions.

You may or may not get a set of keys from the technical director tonight. When you do, find out:

After each night of auditions (there are usually two), key production staff — the director, musical director, and choreographer — discuss who is likely to be called back for the second round of auditions. The stage manager and audition coordinator aren’t necessarily directly involved in the discussion and this is up to the director. If you feel you have valuable input (eg things you saw), don’t hesitate to say something – your opinion is valued.

Important: The results of this meeting are to be kept strictly confidential until the list is published.

If you’ve been given keys, lock up the theater after auditions.

Once the list of those being called back has been developed, confirm with the director who will send the list for posting. Generally the audition coordinator will send the callback list to be posted, although the director may choose to do this him or herself.

The call back list will be posted in three places:

During Callbacks

Arrive early (up to an hour before callbacks is probably a good idea) and unlock the building. Check with the director to see if anything needs to be copied for the callbacks.

If the audition coordinator is present then you may relax and enjoy the show, write down your favorites, look at the sunshine and imprint it on your mind so you can remember later what it looked like. Otherwise ask the director how he or she would like you to help out with callbacks – usually taking notes, handing them cards, following in the script.

Sit in on the casting meeting (remember the note from the callback meeting)

If the audition coordinator is present, it is her responsibility to deliver the cast list for official posting and to call cast members after official posting time to insure that all cast members have been notified of role, first cast meeting, and any script deposits. If the audition coordinator is not present, these things become your responsibility.

Regardless of whether or not the audition coordinator is present it remains her responsibility to create the thank-you letters that will be mailed to those people who were not cast. Make sure you get the cards to her for those not cast.

At the end of Callbacks and Before the first Cast Meeting

Contact Wayne Olson (office manager) to help with assembling the packets for each cast member. These packets will include scripts, letters of agreement (2 copies), a set of “rules and regulations” for RLT, character worksheets, initial rehearsal schedule (the director will put this together), ticket order forms for the cast, bio sheets, and any number of other things.

Create a contact sheet of all cast members (ask the audition coordinator if she will be supplying this for you) and the technical support (you will need to get the proper names from the Technical Director. The contact list should include name, role, home and alternate phone numbers. Make sure that all staff members get a copy of the contact sheet.

Put together the call board with a sign-in sheet, copies of important papers – schedules, important notes…..

Ask Wayne Olson to show you how the Stage Manager Voice Mail works!

Example of Contact Sheet for Cast

Examples of technical roles that you are responsible for including:

Artistic Director, Scenic Designer, Technical Director, Musical Director, Choreographer, Costume Designer, Sound Engineer, Lighting Designer, Stage Manager, Assistant to Director, Assistant Stage Manager, Running Crew Chief, Sound Crew Chief, Light Crew Chief, Props Crew Chief, Dressing Crew Chief, Makeup Designer/Chief, Concessions Coordinator, Box Office Manager, Costume Apprentice, House Manager and Usher Coordinator, Assistant to the Director Apprentice, Theatre Secretary

First Rehearsal Week – Week 2

On the first cast meeting

Your first meeting with the cast will also involve distribution and collection of all sorts of paperwork. The packets you have assembled will be distributed at this meeting. You will be responsible for collecting script deposits if the office manager has indicated that deposits are being collected. Do not give a script to anyone who does not pay the deposit. They can borrow the script for the evening only and you must collect it before they leave until the deposit is paid. As the director goes over the “rules and regulations”, collect the letters of agreement. These are turned in to the office manager at the end of the evening. Have cast members check over the contact sheet for any phone number corrections. Explain the Voice Mail system. Explain that you do not have the ability to excuse someone from rehearsal, that is the prerogative of the director. You are available for emergency calls and questions. Either the stage manager or the Assistant to the Director follows along in the script during a read through. Check with the costumer about how to send cast members for fittings.

Production Meetings

It is the responsibility of the Assistant to the Director to invite the entire technical staff to the weekly Production Meeting, however, you are the host! Be there on time, take notes on who is there and lead the meeting by inviting individuals to discuss any concerns, accomplishments, or questions. Make sure that everyone is invited to speak, but be aware of people’s time. Write down decisions and keep the flow moving. Remind crew chiefs to get you crew names by the next meeting and schedules of workers by Tech Saturday. Give out rehearsal schedules, Crew Ticket requests, Bio sheets, and contact sheets. Remind crew chiefs of Crew Photo call and Crew Watch night.

Character Study and Dialogue Study

Check with the director but, except for unlocking and locking up, you may be able to miss this.

Blocking Rehearsals

Blocking rehearsals move slowly. Both the Assistant to the Director and the Stage Manager write blocking notes in their scripts. There are examples of blocking notes included later. Blocking notes also generate Prop notes. Keep a pad of paper for writing down prop notes handy and notify the prop master about these prop notes.

Music Rehearsals

Usually the musical director is in charge of these evenings and you are not really needed. Use this time to catch up on meetings with the scenic designer, costumer. Artistic director….

Every day

Unlock and lock the building. Check with the costumer to see who is needed. Check your mailbox and your voice mail. Check the sign – in sheet and call if someone is late.

Blocking Week – Week 3

Blocking for excused cast members

Absent cast members will need to get their blocking notes from you the first day that they return. This should be done before rehearsal. When a cast member is absent, you will need to “walk” the part as you take down the blocking notes. This way the other cast members get the physical feel of the absent person.

Non-cast blocking

Noises from offstage, bells, whistles, knocks, horns, phones, crashes become the responsibility of the Stage Manager to indicate as the rehearsal period progresses. As the rehearsal progresses you should get used to shouting “Ring, Ring” at the appropriate place.

“Run” Rehearsals

During this evening you are “on book” and will supply lines when the cast members call “LINE”. Don’t give a cast member a line without him calling for it, that might be a dramatic pause. Sit close to the stage and make sure you project your voice. Don’t try to do something else, you will get distracted and they will call for a line as you are digging in your briefcase.


Notes are given after a run. The stage manager takes the notes for all technical staff and makes sure that the information is transmitted to the appropriate person or corrected immediately. The proper reply to a note is “Thank you”. Any clarification should be handled after the general note session, not while everyone is waiting.

Setting up every day

It is the responsibility of the stage manager to set up the stage before each rehearsal. Furniture placement, sweeping the stage, setting rehearsal props, closing the shop doors, putting out rehearsal costume pieces are all part of this process. It is great if you can get someone to help you. but it is ultimately your responsibility. Likewise, it is your responsibility to make sure that everything is put away after the rehearsal and that the area is ready for the next activity scheduled in that space.


Remind the cast and crew to turn in their bios and keep track of who has done so. Submit bios to the marketing director.

Working Rehearsal

Working rehearsals spend a lot of time on the essence of the nuance. This means that it moves slowly and that there isn’t a lot for you to do except to stay on book, and to correct improperly learned lines. Be ready to handle specific blocking questions and to make detailed prop notes. Notice any “quick” change needs that become obvious and make sure that the costume running (dresser) crews know of this.

Choreography Rehearsals

If you are working on a musical, you will have choreography rehearsals where you may not be needed. You may also be needed to video the rehearsal to serve as a study tape for the dancers. Be ready for either event.

Lost, Found, and Hurt

Cast members will leave things and you are the one who picks them up and returns it to the desperate owner. You might also familiarize yourself with the medicine chests for headaches, upset tummies, smashed fingers, cuts, scrapes, bee stings, and really big things like broken legs. If you are by yourself and need to call the police, remember to tell them you need the PARK POLICE, if available.

Wallow Week – Week 4

Wallow Throughs

A wallow through also usually means an everybody off book deadline. Be ready to be on book and ready with lines. Rehearsal props should be available for all important props. If they aren’t, call the prop master or find something that will do.

Strangers at Rehearsals

There are two different sets of people that you may encounter at rehearsal that you have never seen before. The Sign Language Interpreter and the Audio Description Interpreters. Both of these groups may ask for copies of scripts (they should be referred to the office manager and they should do that during office hours), and they may want to talk with you about cast information (they should be referred to the office manager, again during office hours). These are generally very nice people who have taken care of their needs in the proscribed manner and will not impact on your rehearsal at all. Just smile, introduce yourself and have a nice rehearsal. The Audio Describers will be in the booth with you during one preview and one performance. The Sign Language Interpreter will be on the steps of the stage during one performance.

Photo Call

Publicity photo call is for everyone connected with the show. Crew chiefs should have contacted all of their crew and gotten them here. Therefore, they should be able to give you final crew lists for passing on to the marketing director. Cast members may be photographed in costume, if so they should be there earlier than 6:30 and should be dressed and ready at call time. If the marketing director is not running this photo call, you and the assistant to the director will need to step in. Call groups by departments, get them on the stage for the photographer to arrange. The assistant to the director needs to get everyone’s name in the proper order and with the proper spelling for the marketing director. There may be a Polaroid camera for the assistant to the director to take snaps of the pictures that the photographer is taking. These snaps and the names go to the marketing director for inclusion in the program.

Crew Watch Night

Crew Chiefs should remind their crews of Crew Watch Night when they may sit through a run through of the show. This is especially important for running crew to get a feel for scene movement.

Program Packet

You are responsible for getting all of the program information to the marketing director. She will give you a packet to fill out. Make sure that you double check the spelling of people’s names and responsibility. Ask if you don’t know.

Light Hang and Focus

Sometime during this week the lights will have to be hung and focused and you will be displaced from the stage. Check about where you are to relocate to from the Technical Director and let the cast know. Arrive early in the new space to set up furniture and bring in props etc. Make sure that you put everything back afterwards.


Are you checking with the costumer every night?

Call your assistant stage manager and remind them that next week is when they should be coming on board.

Run Through Week – Week 5

Work TBAs

Once it has been determined which cast members will be needed, you will generally have to call or make sure in some way that they have been notified. Get the Assistant to the Director to be on book during these rehearsals and you schedule time with the sound and light designers to start writing cues into your book where the cues should be called. This will make Tech Saturday run much smoother. Hopefully props will be almost fully real props and the rehearsal props are gone by now. If not meet with the propmaster and make sure that all props will be there by Saturday.

Dress Parade

Cast members are to report early and to be in costume at the posted time. Your job is to make sure that cast members are upstairs and waiting in the audience to be called onto the stage by the costumer. Everyone is tired by this point and costumers may be testy. Keep people quiet and moving swiftly toward being ready to be viewed.

Tech Dinner

This is the Assistant to the Director’s job.

Speed Through

The speed through is conducted around a table without scripts and with the cast members delivering the lines and the intentions as rapidly as possible. Your responsibility is to be absolutely correct on every line, stop them now, it is the last opportunity that you have to correct a line. This is done off the regular stage so that the tech crews have their last chance to finish up before tech rehearsal tomorrow morning.

Before Dry Tech

Count up how many stations you will need and see that enough head sets are set up. If someone else is doing this then that is great – perhaps the assistant stage manager could do this on Friday during the speed through. Make sure that sound, light, running cues are written into your script in PENCIL and approximately where they will go. Set up the stage manager table and the light so that you will be able to see. Your script doesn’t leave the building from this point on. it must be on the stage manager desk ready for someone else to use in case you are unable to get here for a show. Your assistant stage manager should have identical cues written in his or her script and be ready to take over calling in an emergency.

Dry Tech

Dry Tech is without actors and usually that also means without dressing crews and props. This is your time to take over and keep people on task. Conversations of a personal nature have no business on headset during this time. It is your job to keep people focused. Explain the calling procedure –

Warnings come 30-45 seconds before a cue and refocus attention.

Standbys come 10 -15 seconds before a cue and should have fingers poised.

Go is the only word that will execute a cue. If you don’t say it, they don’t do it!

Responses are required for Warnings and Standbys so that you know everyone is with you. You decide when “Completes” are required on cues. Dry Tech will run through all cues and contain all warnings and standbys. This is a practice run for tech. Try to get everything as perfect as possible but keep an eye on the time as well. You should be finished al 12:30. and people should be able to have lunch before Wet Tech. Move on and let individual departments work out difficulties on their own if it isn’t a quick fix and if other groups are not dependent on it. (For example – sound levels, lights wants to re-program a light cue, running crew needs to re-write a cue sheet.)

Wet Tech

Wet Tech adds actors to the mix. There will not be costumes to have to fool with at this rehearsal. Try to keep things moving, but make sure that all cues get called and that if you have to stop then you do so. Call out “Stop” if the action needs to stop and then quickly inform all crews of where you are going back to (everyone should return to cue 45), why you are going back (we missed the sofa entering), ascertain if the problem has been resolved (have you changed that sound level), what you will expect this time {we will go to black on my “go”) and then speak to the cast (from your line “Yes dear” when you are ready). If a cue just won’t work properly, perhaps you need to move on and fix it after the rehearsal when everyone can focus their entire attention on just that item. Keep an eye on the time and keep people focused. There is no headset chatter when anyone is on standby – only emergencies should be reported.

You should not expect cues to be set in stone after this rehearsal. You will be adjusting placements and designers will be adjusting intensity for the next three nights.

Remind cast members that tomorrow means costumes and that they should be here one hour before the rehearsal is scheduled. Remind the crew that they should be there an hour before and ready to go at curtain.

Tech Week – Week 6

Dress Rehearsals

These rehearsals should be as perfect as possible. Try your very best not to stop the action. Remember that you will probably have new crew members on every night before having an audience. Crew chiefs should be with inexperienced crew and should have taught the basic operations before actual rehearsals. Adjust cue placement based on notes from the director, your own evaluations, and designers. You should move upstairs by Tuesday night to get a feel for the Stage Manager booth. The call board should be moved downstairs by the dressing rooms and the auditorium should be clear of any of your stuff.

Distribution of Preview Tickets

You will receive preview tickets for the cast and the management staff from the office manager. In theory you should distribute these during tech dinner. If you don’t have time make sure that people get their tickets on Sunday. Crew members see their crew chief and crew chiefs get their tickets from the Technical Director.

Preview Reception

For family and friends after Preview 2. Preview 1- Main Stage only

Though technically still a rehearsal, this should be considered as your opening night. This audience is frequently made up of special populations and as such may be chatty or wander a bit during the show. They do appreciate the show and should get the best we can give them. Meet your house manager and discuss when you will be turning over the house. Try your very best not to go past 7:30. Check with all crews to be sure they are ready, tell sound to start preshow music and then go yourself to turn the house over to the house manager. Have your ASM announce that “the house is open “to the cast and crews. The visually impaired patrons may need access to the house before house is open (they come in through the handicapped exit), let them in and be pleasant because it won’t make any difference anyway – they are coming in. There is also a nursing home that has a long history of letting the little ladies in early through the side door, just smile and hope the house manager can hold back most of the horde. There are no programs for either preview, they are delivered on opening night You should be on headset and checking with people by ten minutes until curtain. Check with the house manager and make a guess as to the audience seating. The house isn’t yours until the house manager gives it back to you. Have your ASM call places at five til and hope the house will be yours.

We should also add the note to technical crew/stage managers – whoever clears the theatre of tech tables and cables during tech week to be sure that anything that has migrated to the bathroom area during work calls is removed, such as extra chairs, lumber, trash, paint cans, etc.

Preview 2

This is your last night with an unofficial audience. Make sure that all crews have given you a crew list with phone numbers and a schedule of who is working when. Make sure that you have run off copies of the Stage Manager report and that you fill it out every night This is the only written record of the show and should be as complete as possible. The report is put in the director’s box after every show. If there is a technical problem call the technical director’s voice mail and leave a message.

Opening night and the show:

The best show possible each and every time is the only acceptable standard. Take some programs to the cast and crew, it makes them happy. Make sure that the show remains what the artistic director wanted within the framework of some growth is good. Real problems should be directed back to me director usually with a recommendation from you on how to handle it (actor has a death in the family and must be replaced). Report serious problems with the crew to me Technical Director (light crew fails to show up and the crew chief has skipped town). Discuss crew problems with the crew chief or the coordinator. Have fun.

Remember to tell cast members that from Tech Saturday through the end of the run they are only to use the stage door. Other doors will remain locked. This is also when call times become one hour before the ready to go time period. Cast and crew wishing to enter the house may not break the proscenium during a show after Tech Saturday. Actors should not call for Lines beginning with Tech Saturday. However, sometimes they will go up and call, be understanding and give them the line, it is embarrassing enough for them to have to ask.

Attitude is everything – Be calm Be clear in your expectations Treat everyone with respect Remember that everyone else is tired Listen when people talk to you Be considerate of everyone’s time Speak clearly and project your voice Nothing is more important than safety Respect the roles of all crew and cast Remember that it really is your responsibility if something goes wrong

Production Week – Week 7-9

Dark Nights

This is your night off – enjoy it.

Archive Photo Call

This will be after one of the shows and will involve about 20 posed scenes. You work with the list that the director gives you and work backwards in the show costume wise. Hopefully the marketing director will handle this but you may need to step in and take care of it. Keep people focused and working quickly.

The Coordinator

The stage manager coordinator is the person you should First turn to if you are unsure of your responsibility or if you are having any difficulty. The coordinator is also the final person in the process that you should have contact with. At the completion of the show you should give your coordinator a written evaluation of your experience. There is a suggested guideline in the supporting documents section of this handbook, but you may deviate from this format if it does not meet your needs. The important part is to get your comments in writing.


Holdovers may be scheduled if ticket sales are very good. Always plan on holdovers and insist that crew chiefs schedule people to work them. You can notify them if the holdover will not be happening easier than trying to find people at the last minute.


Everyone should participate in strike. Your area is your first responsibility. Throw away all trash, sweep up the floor, put away all materials that you have dragged out and indicate any repairs that need to be made. Then go help with tearing down the set. Check with the Technical Director for the time and location of the Strike Dinner. The dinner provides a nice final thank-you and closing event to the run.