Theatres to honour backstage staff in first ever Stage Management Day

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Theatres around the UK will come together to honour backstage staff next week as part of the industry’s first ever Stage Management Day.

The day, on October 10, has been organised by the Stage Management Association to recognise and celebrate the work stage managers do. It is hoped the day will become an annual event in the theatre industry’s calendar.

For this year’s Stage Management Day, theatres are planning their own events  – including inviting stage managers to join a show’s curtain call, putting slips into programmes to highlight crew working behind the scenes and allowing stage managers to take control of a show’s social media site for the day.

Cast members are also being encouraged to bake cakes for stage managers or help with the set up of a show “to get an idea of what they do”.

SMA executive director Andy Rowley explained: “We have felt for a while that there ought to be some way of recognising the work backstage people do, and particularly what stage managers do.”

He added: “We felt that at a time when the My Theatre Matters! campaign is going strong, and theatre to some extent is feeling the pinch, it was great in some way to promote everything theatres do, and in the process recognise the work that stage managers do.”

Rowley explained that October 10 had been chosen to reflect the fact the association regards stage managers as “the tops – 10 out of 10”.

As part of this year’s day, the cast of West End musical Once will serenade the production’s stage managers, while Spamalot will include slips in its programmes. The musical will also be using a “Spam cam” to film stage managers as they shop for props.

Meanwhile, the Bristol Old Vic and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School are taking part by inviting people to meet stage managers from the south west, as well as arranging backstage tours of the theatre.

16 Comments

  1. Very nice for stage management, but what about dressers, spot ops, sound, front of house staff, stage lx, stage crew, flymen, automation, carpenters, wigs, make up, wardrobe etc….? Most are never mentioned in the programmes, work long anti social hours on low pay and bring a significant contribution to the successful running of a show!

  2. Anthony. No one is doubting that there are many other people who work in varied backstage departments as part of the whole team who work on a production. If other industry departments want to have their moment to be acknowledged then there is no one stopping them from organising this. Stand up and be heard by all means, but please don’t be part of the small crowd who choose to be critical of others who want to make an effort.

  3. So it’s not actually theatres honouring backstage staff, it’s stage managers honouring themselves.

  4. Baking cakes?? Help with the set up?Has the world gone mad or just the SMA office? As a busy stage manager myself I have just wasted 5 minutes reading this nonsense.

  5. Probably the most patronising article about stage management ever, and definitely the most self indulgent thing the SMA have ever done.

    “Cast members are also being encouraged to bake cakes for stage managers or help with the set up of a show “to get an idea of what they do”.

    *gags*

  6. SMA executive director Andy Rowley explained: “We have felt for a while that there ought to be some way of recognising the work backstage people do, and particularly what stage managers do.”
    I think I know of a way to recognise them. I believe it’s called a wage.

  7. Lots of stage managers actually doing things for others on this day. Quite a lot doing things like bake sales to raise money for the Theatrical Guild who support all backstage staff and front of house staff. The day is whatever anyone wants it to be. If other backstage professions want to get together and organise days… they can do it…

  8. Ha ha ha ha ha how big are all your heads growing. SM dont work any harder than any other backstage staff. They dont work overnight then come in early to carry on. They follow equity rules and have a gazillion breaks. Try being in the technical dept for a day during tech week.in early getting things ready, plot the show, do tech stuff whilst SM have their long breaks. Ha ha ha ha SM day get a grip its your JOB to pamper actors. You get paid thats your bl**dy reward just like the rest of us. Ive never cried laughing like I did when I read this. Ha ha ha

  9. Oh dear tech 1 and would you have a job without actors and would you have a show without stage management running it? Doubt it! Trust me we all work bloody hard-if you don’t like that, get a new job, you’re in the wrong industry for one so bitter.
    You dismiss having union agreements that protect our rights as a bad thing?confused! Fairly sure Bectu do the same for you. If you are working overnight then you are not on a union agreement I know, so I suggest the high horse is climbed down from and the union joined! Pinteresque, this isn’t patronising, this is about stage managers promoting themselves and aiming for recognition of their skills. Please push for the same, all backstage staff deserve better recognition. why so much negativity people-do we not deserve to have our skills recognised? You could do the same! I am utterly baffled by such sad negativity to a positive concept and as to the comment about it being our job to pamper actors-that is insulting not only to us, but to actors, whose performances and skill ultimately create your job and wages-being so anti actor is so old hat.

  10. An bemused SM – I have yet to step into a professional situation where my skills have not been recognised and valued. To all those whose skills are being ignored, I recommend informing your relevant professional union/association about it, and changing employer.

    That general feeling that stage management is an undervalued profession within the performing arts is a myth that needs to be dispelled through sophisticated professional representation, assured grass roots campaigning in universities/drama schools and in turn a much more self-confident stage management work force.

    The last thing the profession needs is a day-long step into the dark ages where venues and companies are guilt-tripped into baking us cakes and doing our re-sets for us. It’s cringe worthy. It comes as no surprise but is still worrying to see that the SMA thinks this is a great idea.

  11. Pinteresque-you have utterly missed the point. This has nothing to do with people feeling undervalued, but all to do with confident promotion of our skills. Guilt trip-really? How come then that Equity and the ABTT are backing the day and loads of techies want something similar. You have totally missed the point and we are the ones baking cakes to make money for charities that support all our backstage and onstage brethren when they need that help-Why does someone always have to snipe? You are the one espousing cringeworthy concepts sadly, as you simply are anti SMA in a big way in both posts. I am pleased to say you are in a very small minority as the vast majority of SMs and the industry, including actors, thinks that the day is a fabulous idea.

  12. I’d say most of the negative reaction to SM Day is from those who are taking the concept of SM Day, and themselves far too seriously. If John states that he is such a busy stage manager who has wasted his time reading the ‘nonsense’ article, he still found the time to write a comment to have a whinge. Professions, institutions, nations, sports, pirates, you name it… there are ‘days’ for all sorts of things, whether its serious or just for fun. I’ve yet to meet a fellow stage manager who has been moany or negative about the latest topic SM Day when mentioned. Those that are, I’m glad I’m not in their team. How miserable it must be.

  13. No points missed here, and certainly not anti-SMA. In my minority opinion the only people taking themselves too seriously are those stage managers who think that our colleagues should pause for a day to celebrate and honour our profession, as if it isn’t as highly regarded as other professions within the arts. I am all for a knees-up and fundraiser as much as the next SM but you must understand that, like many professional stage managers, having stood my ground and established my colleagues’ respect for my role over many years, it is somewhat frustrating to see our professional association clumsily undermine this effort and imply to me, its members – and to the wider community – that it is in fact some kind of inferior profession in need of special and unusual recognition. What is going to happen once the day is over?

    I cannot help but feel this is a damaging thing, else I wouldn’t be so bothered by the story – and the only way to undo the damage would be to hold special ‘Days’ for performers, sound technicians, lighting technicians, video technicians, stage technicians, costume technicians, set builders, production managers, scenic artists, lighting designers, sound designers, composers, video designers, set designers, costume designers, directors, dramaturgs, writers, producers, administrators, FOH personnel, stage door keepers, theatre musicians… While we’re at it we might as well have the first ever Audience Day… we can all go and sit in the stalls to “get an idea of what they do”.

  14. Pinteresque, you suggest the only way to balance out the ‘damage’ of SM Day is for every other theatre department to have a similar day. Other posts from readers before you who are all in favour of SM Day have stated that they do not have a problem with this. Anyone else can organise an event for their team or profession and no one is preventing them from doing it. SM Day does not imply that we are an inferior profession in theatre. It implies that some stage management have got together to start something off for us all to celebrate, have fun, or mark together on the same day if we choose to do so.

  15. Marc, No suggestion that other departments are prevented from celevrating themselves, my aim was to point out the ridiculousness of the situation.

    I may be reading too much into it but Andy Rowley says “We have felt for a while that there ought to be some way of recognising the work that… particularly what stage managers do”, which to me implies that he underestimates how much recognition we already receive for the work we do.

  16. Pinteresque-the day is trending on twitter and gaining huge industry support. Care to accept you were wrong. What on earth is wrong with more recognition?You may be lucky and be well respected in your theatre-I am very glad you are-not sadly always the case and today is a great day for our profession-The SMA see both sides of the coin, not just the rosy one-and hey what is so wrong with a bit of self affirmation!? Have great day yourself and hope you got cake.

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