A new working group has been formed that is set to overhaul employment conditions for stage managers.
The formation of the working group is the result of an open meeting held earlier this month by the Stage Management Association and the Association of British Theatre Technicians.
During the meeting, stage managers, manufacturers and industry experts discussed their concerns about the current design of prompt desks, which are used to coordinate the show, and prompt corners, where the desks are situated.
Stage managers had complained of back issues and having to twist around like “contortionists” to do their job due to the current design of the desks.
Following the meeting, manufacturers have said they will immediately try to incorporate more flexibility into prompt-desk designs. The working group will lobby for theatres to replace the current seats commonly used for prompt desks with more adjustable alternatives.
SMA executive director Andy Rowley said: “Deputy stage managers are crucial to the well-being of the entire cast and crew as they are cueing and monitoring the show, and good seating and posturing is essential for them to be able to do their job safely without suffering strains.
“For too long we’ve allowed stage managers to work round the deficits of prop corners, but now we’ll be able to offer guidance on how they should be set up.”
He added: “A few little changes will go a very long way to making DSMs’ working lives a lot better.”
Longer term, the working group will assess ideas from stage managers and advice from experts to review the current design of prompt desks and recommend changes that can be made.
The group will also come up with a series of technical standards for prompt corners.
It will hold an open meeting at the ABTT Theatre Show in London in June, where stage managers will be able to bring sketches and designs of their proposed ideas for prompt-desk design.
The working group will consist of stage managers as well as representatives from the SMA, ABTT, Equity and the manufacturers of prompt desks as well as industry experts including Mark Lovell from Charcoalblue consultants and osteopath Michael Mehta from the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine.