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What school should I go to for stage management?

My dream job is to become a stage manager for professional on-stage musicals or plays. (Something like Broadway) But all the schools I look at that have great theater programs are schools where the program is mostly about acting and performance. What schools are good for stage management or backstage work?

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Charly’s Answer

Hi good morning! This is not my specific field, but i've professional friends in the music industry in that especific field who graduated from Full Sail University in Florida and they're super successful in what they do.
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Michelle’s Answer

I can honestly say, and it's not just because I received my Bachelors Degree (in Theatre) from there, that I would consider California State University, Sacramento to be one of the very best colleges for Theatre. Sacramento is an hour and a half drive, 90 miles, from where you live so it wouldn't require making a huge relocation. Many of my theatre classmates at Cal State were from Sonoma County where you live.

Although Cal State Sacramento doesn't have a stage management course, it offers a very strong technical theatre program with state of the art theatres to work in. You could use an experience unit of credit to stage manage one of the shows or work it out with one of the professors about this. This course is called Practicum in Technical Production. If you stage manage a show in the community, you can arrange to get credit for it under their Special Problems in Technical Theatre course. These units of credit consist of you working on productions, not classroom attendance.

That being said, you will need to know theatre up and down and sideways, all aspects of theatre, in order to become a stage manager. It involves knowing the scripts very well, making sure every aspect runs smoothly even when it's time to tear down the set at a production's close. You will be expected to take courses in every facet of theatre, even acting. It is crucial that you are familiar with and comfortable with Lighting, costuming, make up, directing, stagecraft and every part of theatre. It will be expected of you if you are to make it a career as you will be the liaison among these disciplines on a show. It is actually an exciting career !

In order to work in professional theatre you will have to join the Equity union. There's a lot of detail about it so I will provide their website link below.

Theatre is the study of many things. There are techniques, theories, literature and programs you must learn in order to be the glue that keeps an entire production together. As you learn each aspect of theatre, you will be confident in knowing what to do on your first stage management job. This is why you probably do not see a theatre department offering a course in stage management or only stage management. We all have to learn everything. So, in answer to your question, really any college that offers the full scope of theatre would be good. I still recommend California State University, Sacramento because they have such great theatres and opportunities for students and the campus is truly awesome.

I hope that this has shed some light on things for you. Best wishes in choosing a college and I know you will enjoy your education experience.

Michelle recommends the following next steps:

https://careertrend.com/how-to-become-an-equity-stage-manager-13652059.html EQUITY - UNION INFORMATION
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! I appreciate the suggestion. Cal State is one of the many colleges I've looked at. Theatre is one of my biggest passions, and I know it's going to take a lot of work but I honestly can't wait. I've stage managed a few things while in highschool and at work, and have loved it so much. Thank you again for all your advice! Kiara
Thank you comment icon You are very welcome, Kiara. I am happy to know that you are ready for a most exciting and rewarding venture ! Michelle M.
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Lindsey’s Answer

the University of the Arts in Philadelphia has a Directing, Playwrighting, and Production major with a Stage Management track under Production. Though I graduated with a Design Tech degree from UArts, I also essentially had a DPP minor in SM. In the DPP program, you'll have to take the beginner classes of each track and then choose one track to do the full course. You are required to take one movement-based class that will serve as a performance class but it's with people in your major and not a true acting class. You're also required to take at least one design class in whatever discipline you choose, most SMs do scenery or lighting. Every professor at the university if required to be working in the field so you get a lot of great experiences with shading professionals in the city. The application process is a portfolio review and interview with the head of the program. The interview is treated more like a conversation and is where you are truly able to showcase your thoughts and ideas about theater.

I personally loved my time at UArts but it is definitely a school where you get out what you put in. It is also technically an Arts Conservatory and not a University so you are only surrounded by art majors. We didn't have to take a math class but there was a science requirement. It's a private school so it is expensive without scholarships though I've heard it is rare for anyone to go there without some type of scholarship. It is also smack in the middle of Center City, Philadelphia so it is a very nontraditional campus that spans about six blocks. It is a particular type of experience that is not for everyone.

Also in Philadelphia with a SM track is Temple University. It offers a more traditional college experience with its own campus and a wide variety of majors. I do not know how their program is structured but I do believe there is at least one acting class requirement. Temple also does Opera performances which not something you can find at many schools.

To speak a little bit about Philadelphia. It's a very historic city that is rich in culture and the arts. We have touring houses, regional theaters, and smaller community theaters throughout the city. Philadelphia is known for more experimental theater though our bigger theaters do more commercial pieces as well. Philadelphia is surrounded by NYC, DC, Delaware, and NJ which makes it very easy to experience and be a part of different theaters. Moving to the East Coast is definitely a big change but if your goal is Broadway it might be a choice to consider.

Lindsey recommends the following next steps:

UArts - https://www.uarts.edu/academics/undergraduate/directing-playwriting-production-bfa
Temple - https://www.temple.edu/academics/degree-programs/theater-major-ca-thtr-ba
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