The stage manager has one of the most critical and underappreciated roles in the theater industry. They are the maestro of meetings, rehearsals, performances, and literally everything that makes the show go on. We decided to give a few experienced stage managers a chance to offer some advice for actors. It turns out, simple habits can go a long way in the eyes of the people who run the show behind the scenes.
Remember, we’re on the same team.
“I would really like actors to know that there are stage managers who are on their side; we are a part of the same union. It is my philosophy to take care of everybody and create an environment where all of us together can create safely, freely, and can come to me for anything. You know, I’m not management even though ‘management’ is in my title. I want actors to know that we’re there in the trenches with them.” —Deb Acquavella, Broadway’s “Metamorphosis,” senior stage and production manager in residence, Emerson College
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Know your colleagues’ names.
“I appreciate the actors who treat the ushers with the same respect and reverence that they treat their director; [it’s] the ability to see the big picture, to see how many people it takes to create this transcendent experience we live for. Ultimately, that humility, grace, and kindness is everything and I feel it makes actors shine on and off the stage.” —Joshua Gustafson, Roundabout’s “Amy and the Orphans,” Barrow Street’s “Sweeney Todd”
Always acknowledge the people you work with.
“It is important to acknowledge the crew, managers, and those working with you in the building. We notice who shows appreciation—and it goes a long way.” —Ashley-Rose Galligan, “The Band’s Visit”
Treat the space with respect.
“I believe that most stage managers would like if everyone in the rehearsal room and theater—not only actors—treated the physical space with more respect. The task of cleaning up often falls on stage management. We come together to use, create, and enjoy the space as a group. Why not preserve it as a group, too?” —Jason Pacella, Tony Awards, the Public Theater’s Public Works
Looking to put this advice to good use? Check out Backstage’s theater audition listings!