If you're thinking of becoming a stage manager, prepare to work hard and spend years on training. Probably the first step is deciding whether stage management is right for you. After that, you'll have to consider how you want to gain experience, and then you'll need a stage manager resume to show off your work and get more jobs.
Being a stage manager requires a range of abilities that not everyone has. Stage managers need to be able to:
- Handle stressful work
- Take on jobs that may seem menial, like mopping a floor
- Think quickly during crises and emergencies
- Deal with both pragmatic stage crew and emotional performers
- Be creative in finding solutions to technical problems
- Be patient in resolving personal differences among cast and crew
- Be level-headed and polite
- Set up and work with a high level of organization
- Accept contributing to the production without accolades
- Provide clear direction to crew and assistant stage managers
You can become a stage manager through on-the-job training -- by starting as an intern and working your way up on theatrical productions -- but increasingly, stage managers have a bachelor's or master's degree in theater arts, often with a specialization in stage management. Many schools, including colleges such as Yale University, University of Southern California, New York University and Northwestern University have theater departments.
Having a degree can give you a broader background in theater through the opportunity to take classes in acting, directing, costume design, lighting, sound and stage design. That can make you more desirable when you look for internships as a production assistant. A theater school can also help you find internships and give you the chance to start building your resume with work on student productions. You also can get a head start on making the contacts that can help you get jobs later in your career.
Your resume will be one of the most important tools in building your career. You'll want to list each production, its dates and specific information about your contribution to the production. While you'll probably find yourself starting as an intern or production assistant at low pay, being able to list varied experience can help you move up from production assistant to assistant stage manager to stage manager [source: Stage Managers' Association].
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