Handbook for Stage Management

Department of Theatre Arts & Dance
Sonoma State University

This handbook was prepared to assist in understanding the role and duties of the Stage Manager (SM), in relationship to the role and duties of Directors, Faculty and Staff, including House Management, in relationship to the Stage Manager of Department productions.

Duties of Stage Management

Reports: rehearsal, performance, and production meetings

Stage managers are responsible for preparing and distributing production meeting, rehearsal and performance reports after every rehearsal and/or meeting.

Whenever possible please use the form available on the Performing Arts website.

Sign in with your SSU User Name and Password
Those included in the automatic distribution list are

  • Directors(s) and choreographers
  • Musical Director
  • Production Manager (Juliet)
  • All show designers
  • TD (Theo)
  • Costume Shop
  • Scene Shop
  • Marketing
  • Department chair(s)
  • Others as required by individual shows

If the SM cannot get online, a hard copy must still be delivered to each person listed above by the morning of the next workday.

Reports are needed in a timely manner so shops and others can respond to notes to effectively and efficiently use valuable work time.

If a wireless or landline connection is not available in the rehearsal venue, please endeavor to send a report from home after rehearsals. Landline connections are available in Person Theatre (stage right), Ives 76, Warren Auditorium, Ives 119, most Ives classrooms and P.E 1.

Check out an internet connection wire from the Production Manager. Wireless is coming to Person within a year.

Auditions & pre-production

  • Attend and take notes at all  production meetings

- As possible in your class schedule

  • Prepare audition materials as required by Director(s)

- Prepare short scenes “sides” from the script; make copies (4-6)

- Help prepare audition sign up sheets based on individual director’s needs,   normally at 5-minute intervals with 10-minute breaks each hour. Audition times are assigned from earliest time slot to latest. Special times can be arranged only with the knowledge and consent of the director(s).

- Have copies (3) of full scripts on hand in auditions. These are available in theTheatre office, though the SM may need to make copies from the original.   

  • Run auditions:

Person Theatre -SM works with Director in house seats. ASM is in the lobby handing out audition forms and making sure contact info is recorded.  Escort auditioner/s to stage through SR elevator then have each actor enter onto the stage from the SR wing.

Ives 76- SM is with Director in house seats. ASM is in the hallway getting paperwork filled out, and letting auditioners in through hallway door.

Ives 119- SM is with Director in house seats. ASM is the in hallway getting paperwork filled out, and letting auditioners in through hallway door.

Ives 101-Person SM is with Director in house seats. ASM is in the hallway getting paperwork filled out, letting auditioners in through backstage door.

  • Prepare rehearsal scripts

- Get scripts from theatre office. Number all scripts and assign scripts to cast and designers.  Rented part must be gathered at the last show and returned to office on next business day.

  • SM supervises ASM and PA

- Delegate responsibilities to ASMs and when necessary to the cast and crew.

  • Gather, create and distribute an ensemble contact/cast list

- All participants must give permission for the distribution of their contact information to the cast/crew. If a cast/ crew member does not want his/her info released then only the Stage Manager(s), Director, and the scene (crew) and costume (actors/dancers) shops will receive the cast/crew member’s phone number and e-mail.

  • Create a cast e-mail tree

- This is the preferred way to get the call times, and other information to the cast, designers and crew.

  • Work with directors to help in creating rehearsal schedules.

- Then post rehearsal schedules and rehearsal updates on callboard at the beginning of  each week

  • Create rehearsal script (as needed).

- Premieres and new productions have special needs; the script may need to be updated and new pages or full script copies distributed to cast and designers.


  • Production Meetings

- Attend and take notes at all production meetings (as possible within the SM’s class schedule).

  • First Aid kits

- Check out First Aid kit from Production Manager.
- First Aid kit must be present at all auditions, rehearsals and performances.

  • Arrive 15 minutes in advance of rehearsal

- Open the rehearsal space, set the stage, furniture, props and equipment as directed for each rehearsal.
- Attend all rehearsals unless released by the Director.

  • Sign-in sheets

- Prepare sign-in sheets for all persons required for each rehearsal, tech, and performance.
- Assure that personnel sign-in upon arrival. SM may also require personnel to sign-out upon release.
- Telephone any missing performers and crew members beginning 5 minutes after individual call times.

  • Prepare and maintain rehearsal room

- Tape out rehearsal room, including in PE1, prior to first staging rehearsal, or as directed
- Follow designer’s floor plan as much as possible to full scale, and as directed by Director.
- Procure rehearsal props and furniture from scene shop in a timely manner (1-2 day turnaround from day of request).
- Set out rehearsal props and costumes in advance of scene or dance work.
- Assure that props and costume pieces are returned to storage after use.
- Take blocking and/or choreography notes using standard stage short hand.
- Clarify blocking decisions with Director as necessary to insure that blocking/movement decisions are correctly notated before the rehearsal moves on to the next scene, piece or rehearsal.
- Spike stage and adjust spikes as necessary throughout rehearsal. Clarify changes with Director as needed.
- Record placement of any spikes to a ground plan to transfer to Person Stage or other performance venue.
- Transfer spikes accurately from rehearsal space to performance space

  • Rehearsal breaks

- Coordinate regular breaks during rehearsals with Director. Breaks follow Actor Equity Association rules:
            - 5 minutes after 55 minutes, or 10 minutes after 80 minutes continuous rehearsal. 
            - No rehearsal can go longer than 5 hours without a 30 minute lunch/dinner break.
- Call breaks and returns from breaks.
- Discuss post-break rehearsal needs with Director, and set the stage as requested before SM takes his/her own break.

  • Run music CDs and tapes and take sound notes in rehearsal

- Arrange with the Production Manager to check out a boom box or some type of playback device. It must be locked up when not in use and at close of rehearsal

  • Costume fittings

- Schedule costume fittings between performers and costume shop.
- Procure rehearsal costume pieces from costume shop in a timely manner (1-2 day turnaround from day of request).

  • Coordinate performances with House Manager
  • Prepare and send complete rehearsal report after each rehearsal (see above)


  • House Management

- Review protocols for running the show with House Manager, per the instructions of the director.
- Set with House Manager prior to first public performance timing of when the house may be opened for to seating.  House opening time in relationship to calls should be set by the director. This is normally 30 minutes for Person Theatre, but will vary by show and venue.
- Set procedures per Director’s instructions for the beginning of each show (including any late-seating holds), intermission(s), and post show.

- In Person Theatre- call the Box Office when SM is ready to start the show. The House Manager will give permission to proceed. The Person box office number is 664-2352, the SM booth number is 664-4103.

- In PE1, Ives 119, Ives 101 and Ives 76-SM should come to the house entrance to inform House Management when the show is ready to begin, then stand at the door and until the ushers give a go-ahead, then take his/her place and start the show.

- Gives “calls” to the cast, crew, and house management at 30 minutes, 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, and “places” before the start of the show.

N.B. If the show cannot start on time, the SM must inform house management (unless the hold is initiated by house management), cast and crew of the hold, along with an estimated time for the hold. Actors should stay in “places” during the hold (unless specifically told otherwise) and await further instructions from the SM. The House Manager and SM must be in conference to determine a new ‘go’ time. The SM must then inform cast and crew and again call “places.”

  • Call performances

- Insure that a complete audience announcement is made right before the beginning of the show, as prescribed by California law.

  • Time all performances by start and end time of each act, and length of each intermission           

- Timings are required in all in performance reports.This provides directors a sense of whether the show is tightening or lengthening, and may determine if a director needs to speak with the cast.

  • Give notes to cast as defined by Director(s)

- After a show opens, SM must maintain the technical aspects of the show.

  • Security

- No person is allowed backstage other than show Director(s), choreographer(s), Musical Director, orchestra members, performers, assigned crew and staff, and designers.  No doors in Person Theatre are to be propped open without someone responsible in attendance at that doorway. This is especially necessary for doors that are intended to remain locked during rehearsals and performances.
- No person should leave rehearsals alone after dark. Encourage cast and crew to walk to parking lots and dorms in pairs, or to call for a Security escort (664-2143)
- Stage Management does not collect or keep performers’ valuables. Rather, performers and/or crew are assigned lockers. SM should encourage performers and crew to bring a lock for his/her assigned locker.
- On occasion, based on cast size, more than one performer will share a locker.

  • Post- show

- Family and friends are asked to meet performers in the lobby or hallway of the venue (see regulations on backstage access above).
- The SM is required to lock and secure all facilities and equipment before leaving venue after each performance.

  • Prepare and send complete performance report after each performance (see above)

Responsibilities of the Director

  • Casts show and rehearses performers—responsible for creative work and decisions
  • Works with the SM to create and distribute rehearsal schedules
  • Compiles information for press releases, postcard and program information, flyers, and poster.  Arrange photo shoots; coordinate interviews, etc with the CPA Marketing Director.
  • Gathers, creates and turns in program information to the Box Office Manager. This information is due to the BO Manager 30 days in advance of the show Opening.
  • When the BO Manager returns the program, the director proofs the program, and arranges name spell-checks for programs (and other publicity) by all people involved in the show.
  • Determines technical and dress rehearsal schedule with Production Manager, and inform Stage management in timely manner.
  • Communicates to cast any changes to the rehearsal or performance schedules, as well as changes to the class syllabus. 
  • Informs students of criteria for grades and assessment.
  • Meets with costume, light, sound and set designers to discuss the show’s ideas and concepts. Approve designs before they go to shops, and changes after designs are in the shops.
  • Works with Production Manager to assure that deadlines are kept, including designers' deadlines.
  • Arranges call times with the Technical Director for tech rehearsals and performances.
  • Coordinates performances with House Manager, with Stage Manager present. This should include any protocol for holding the curtain late seating, and length of intermissions. This must be done on or before Preview night.
  • Determines how each show begins in consultation with House and Stage Managers.

Stage Management Course Instructor

  • Supervises and mentors SM.
  • Informs SM students of criteria for grades and assessment, receives input on both from production directors, production manager, and shop heads.
  • Insures that emergency contacts and first aid kits and equipment are checked out by SMs.

House Manager

  • Knows First Aid and ER procedures for cast and crew, as well as audiences.
  • Works with Stage Manager to assure proper audience flow, ‘go’ times.
  • Informs the SM of any special needs, such as reasons for holding the house.

Additional resources:  http://theatre.hum.uab.edu/sm.htm

Stage Manager Contact Sheet

SSU police from any campus phone
Sonoma State University Public Safety
                         On Campus: x42143
                         Off Campus: (707) 664-2143

Juliet Pokorny-Production Manager
Email: juliet.pokorny@sonoma.edu
Office: 664-3160

Theo Bridant-Technical Director
Email: theo.bridant@sonoma.edu
Office: 664-2565

Martha Clarke-Costume Director
Email: clarkema@sonoma.edu
Shop: 664-2216

Anthony Bish -Head of Technical Theatre /Design
Email: anthony.bish@sonoma.edu
Office: 664-2797

Paul Draper- Acting
Email: paul.draper@sonoma.edu
Office: 664-3904

Kristen Daley-Chair, Department of Theatre Arts and Dance
Email: kristen.daley@sonoma.edu
Office: 664-3904

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