Stage Manager’s Checklist

When you are stage managing a production it is sometimes useful to have a checklist to run through. This is an aid to make sure that you cover all bases in the rehearsal period right up to the production. All well organised Stage Managers will have their own custom lists that they follow. As you gain more experience you will develop your own format to follow. Here I present a list that is set up in chronological order. I have based on a 12 week rehearsal period followed by the production. This should give you some ideas to work with. The more organised you are the smoother the production should flow. This will instil confidence in you by the cast, crew and the Director.

Preparation phase

Read through play

Assist director with preparations eg. Copying scripts.

Organise an audition schedule.

Work with the director to  streamline rehearsals.

Organise a copy of the script for your prompt script. It should be single sided A4.

Week 1

As stage manager you are integral in the preparation and operation of each performance. You control the technical side of the production..

Create a scene breakdown examining each scene and its intention that can be shared and discussed with production manager and other key backstage team members and director. Record the page number each scene starts on so that you can find these in a hurry. Note which characters appear in each scene.

Discuss rehearsal times; bump in/ production week/bump out schedules and general time management of the production with the cast, crew and director.

Week 2
Discuss with the director their intention for the production and think about how your jobwill help the director interept the play

Compile a list of  references to props from the stage directions with page numbers so you can refer to them quickly. Discuss this list with the director in order to establish if they wish to use all props listed. Some scripts will also have a props list with them, this can be a very useful reference. Discuss the design of the props with the designer to ensure consistency.

Create a cast list when auditions are completed. Create a crew list when positions have been decided on.

Start making blocking notes in script

Week 3

Attend rehearsals.

Checkout the venue and make contact with the head technician.  Acquire a 1:25 scale plan of the stage.

Complete a mark-up of the acting space in your rehearsal venue. Eg. Are there immovable stairs in the space, a balcony you are using? Is the space proscenium arch, traverse etc?

Create a contact list for the cast and crew.

Create a rehearsal schedule with the director.

Liaise with the backstage and onstage team members.

Ensure basic ‘necessities’ are provided in the rehearsal space, eg. Toilets, tea and coffee, water,
first aid kit and a phone available in an emergency.

Ensure the rehearsal room is set-up with adequate chairs for the cast, director, yourself and other people.

Continue writing blocking notes

Week 4

Attend rehearsals.

Confirm the booking for the performance space, including bump in and pre-production.

Create a production week schedule and establish a weekly production meeting time where the lighting, audio, set designers, props master, wardrobe, production manager and the director can meet.

Create a list of all set, costume, lighting, sound, props etc. references in the script

Week 5

Attend rehearsals

Gather with the help of the props person and set designer any rehearsal props, set,  that have been decided on for the actors to use, e.g. a period skirt, a walking stick, etc. These will begin to be clarified in the next few weeks.

Liaise with the construction team as they work to complete their exploration and move into the building phase of the production.

Ensure you participate in regular discussions with the director so that you can efficiently implement their intention during rehearsals.

Week 6

Attend rehearsals

Complete mark-up of the set in the rehearsal space.

Once the set design has been established create small plans of each set configuration you can copy and stick into your prompt script to record final blocking.

Finish your props list with documentation and drawings for each item and establish if you are going to borrow, hire make, or buy each item.

Work with crew.

Week 7

Attend rehearsals

As scenes solidify start to time the scenes or Acts. A number of elements such as sound, music,multimedia etc. will find this information very useful.

Keep notes on how rehearsals are going

Work with crew.

Week 8

Attend rehearsals.

Complete all blocking ready for plotting the lighting.

Schedule Bump in/ Bump out and Production week, particularly rigging, plotting, costume parade,
cue to cue rehearsal, tech rehearsal and dress rehearsals in collaboration with the offstage members and crew.

Gather/ Make props.

Work with crew.

Week 9

Attend rehearsals.

Coordinate the list for program photos.

Week 10

Meet with the lighting, sound, set and costume designer etc. and record in the prompt script the
cue points they have identified.

Gather/ Make props.

Work with crew.

Week 11

Supervise all elements bumping into the theatre.

Set up the dressing rooms.

Display a Scene/character breakdown backstage so all actors know when their character is
onstage.

Coordinate the costume parade to check all costumes are finished and work with the lighting
colours.

Set up a props table back stage, by covering a table with paper and tracing around each prop,
writing the name inside so they are returned to the correct place.

Set up an area for any set pieces that may need to come on or off during the show.

If you need to spike [use small right angled tape marker on the stage] the set pieces so you know
where they are on stage.

Ensure actors have any personal props and negotiate if they need you to preset them for
performance. However, they may choose to do this themselves.

If you plot the lighting when you are not rehearsing, which is the ideal situation, organise a
walker for plotting so that the lighting designer can see what the actors will look like onstage.

Plot the lights and sound adjusting your prompt script if necessary.

Work with crew.

Week 12 – Production week

Work with crew.

Run a Cue to cue rehearsal. It is often an efficient way to check that each cue works, it also allows you and the operators to get a feel for their jobs and timing. All sound, lighting, mech, multimedia, acting, costume quick change etc. cues need to be run until you are happy. The actors should be involved so that you can time cues by hearing their lines and seeing their actions. Many Stage Managers still like to sit in the auditorium with the director at this point so communication between the two of you is more efficient.

Run the technical rehearsal from the position you will be calling from in performance. You need to call all cues as you would in performance, however, if you feel a cue has not been completed correctly you need to stop and re run the cue. The director will also let you know if they are unhappy with the cue.

At the dress rehearsals the production should be running as it would in performance. You will no doubt receive notes from the designers and director about the timing of some cues. Often it’s not a case of something you have not done correctly, but the production coming together as a whole and some refining necessary.

Bump out and supervise the return of any hired equipment.

Supervise clean-up and storage of all items.

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