Theatre Production Manager: Duties, Outlook and Requirements

Theatre production managers keep a production running smoothly by working as a liaison between the cast, crew, and director. They verify theater purchases, organize meetings, and schedule rehearsal times. Theatre production managers also take extensive notes concerning the director's vision, technical issues, and cast blocking to verify continuity.

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Duties of a Theatre Production Manager

Theatre production managers, sometimes called stage production managers, have a long list of responsibilities during every stage of the production process, from auditions and rehearsals to opening night and post-production. They work closely with directors and other department heads to make important decisions regarding casting, costuming, lighting, and other aspects of theater productions.

Theatre production managers often take care of the actors. This involves setting up auditions and maintaining a green room as a relaxing place for cast members. Production managers keep accurate blocking notes regarding the position of the actors and props throughout every scene. These notes are disbursed to the director, technical director, and cast. Theatre production managers also create rehearsal schedules for actors and crew, maintain all contact information, and set up any additional meetings for the cast and production staff.

Keeping the stage and backstage areas organized is an essential task of theatre production managers. Not only must these areas be swept clear prior to rehearsal, they must be cleaned after each day's work. Some theaters provide production managers with a cleaning crew, but this varies based on the theater's size and budget. Delegating cleaning responsibilities typically is necessary for larger productions.

Theatre Production Manager Job Outlook

Pinpointing an exact outlook for theatre production managers proves difficult, but records from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that the number of positions for directors and producers would grow by 11% between 2010 and 2020 (www.bls.gov). Although most statistics referred to recorded cinematic productions, the BLS specified that larger theatre productions should provide more job opportunities than smaller, more transient theatre companies.

The BLS does not provide salary statistics for production managers, but does for actors, directors, and producers; the expected salary for stage managers likely falls between the two categories. In May 2012, the Bureau indicated that the median hourly wage for professional actors was $20.26 an hour, while directors and producers earned a median of $34.31 an hour. Performing arts companies paid directors and producers an average of $28.41 an hour and actors around $22.78 hourly. Wages are only earned during pre-production and through the show-run. Individuals in this field do not earn wages between shows.

Requirements for Theatre Production Managers

Since theatre production managers work as liaisons to actors, many theaters require that they possess acting experience. Having worked in different production departments, such as lighting, prop building, or marketing, also might provide the behind-the-scenes experience that directors often require. Applicants for theatre production management positions also should have keen organizational skills and a positive attitude and be able to treat people with respect at all times.

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