Production Manager – What do they do?

This is a question that I am often asked. The Production Manager is a major part of a theatre company, and in professional companies this role is often pivotal to the success of the company. An in-effective Production Manager can break a company quickly if they do not keep on top of things. They need to spend hours planning to the last detail what is going to happen. They need an intimate knowledge of all of the various departments and what they do. They also need a head for paperwork. They have to understand the artistic mindset but also be practical. Below is a list of some of the tasks that they need to undertake.

In an amateur theatre company this is the same. The one key difference is that they are not being paid to do this task. But they still need to do all of the same tasks. But do we have people in amateur theatre that are capable of this undertaking. Do they have the time to learn all the skills and then apply them. There are some people that can do this, but they are extremely rare and usually need a lot of training. Some companies have a production committee and this to me seems a good way to go. If the committee members have all the correct skills then they can cover the list below. But a lot of companies don’t have a fully skilled person, so how do the shows make it on stage? Sometimes pure luck. This one area that some companies could spend some time training people from the crew to be effective production managers. But how does someone get training in technical theatre without doing a “pro” course that takes a few years. We do need shorts courses that are available and accessible to amateur crews.

Responsibilities:

  1. Oversee and coordinate all aspects of physical production and the production process.
  2. Supervise and oversee all production staff and crew.
  3. Organize and manage production design and scheduling and set rentals.
  4. Provide cost estimates on designs submitted and account for commitments and expenditures in budgets for materials and labor in scenic, stage, lighting, sound and special effects, capital equipment and other special projects.
  5. Establish technical schedules and coordinate all activities related to theater productions including scenery construction, property construction, painting, maintenance and improvements.
  6. Organising rehearsal props, sets and costumes.
  7. Preparation of all show paperwork.
  8. Video and music management and production for rehearsals and performances.
  9. Develop equipment and procedures for stage effects and changeovers.
  10. Coordinate and oversee the installation, maintenance and inventory of technical equipment and facilities.
  11. Assist in contracting dancers, choreographers and designers.
  12. Facilitate communication between designers, directors and staff.
  13. Maintain supervision of theatre use.
  14. Manage carpentry, electrical and property staff.
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