Backstage staff from the West End production of Spamalot swapped places with actors and trod the boards for the first ever Stage Management Day, which saw venues around the UK celebrate the work of those “at the creative heart of theatre”.
The event, organised by the Stage Management Association, took place yesterday and was aimed at recognising the work that stage managers do.
The day saw the work of stage managers on the touring productions of West Side Story and Cats, as well as the West End production of Top Hat, highlighted in programmes.
Top Hat also gave its cast members the chance to experience the role of a stage manager, while Spamalot used the song I’m All Alone – which usually features actors pretending to be stage managers – to bring real stage management onto the stage.
Other initiatives saw the Twitter feeds of major productions – including Les Miserables – taken over by stage managers for the day.
The day also prompted casts and crews to make cakes for their stage management teams, photos of which were posted on to social media sites.
In London, #stagemgrs13 trended on Twitter, while many well-known directors and actors used the medium to praise the work of stage managers.
Spamalot and Rocky Horror Show director Christopher Luscombe said: “It’s Stage Management Day, so hats off to the brilliant stage management teams on Rocky and Spamalot. You’re the tops.”
Meanwhile, Anna-Jane Casey, currently appearing as Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot, wrote: “Turns, when you rag on about how tiring ‘your track’ is, try coming in two hours earlier, setting up, then do the show and leave one hour after it’s done. That’s what stage management do.”
SMA executive director Andy Rowley said the responses showed “that stage managers really are at the creative heart of theatre and live events across the UK”.
“On behalf of all stage management, the SMA would like to thank each and every one of the many, many hundreds of our colleagues who celebrated with us and who support our work on this and every day,” he added.
However, the day was not without criticism.
Theatre designer Tom Scutt was among those who spoke out against it. He took to Twitter to label the day “insulting and patronising”.
“They make theatre alongside all of us every day,” he added.