The Stage Manager's Toolkit: Templates and Communication Techniques to Guide Your Theatre Production from First Meeting to Final Performance (Paperback) book cover

The Stage Manager's Toolkit

Templates and Communication Techniques to Guide Your Theatre Production from First Meeting to Final Performance

By Laurie Kincman

© 2013 – Focal Press

224 pages

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pub: 2013-04-11
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About the Book

As a Stage Manager, you are responsible for organizing rehearsals, running performances, and keeping everyone and everything on track and in sync. To do the job well, you need to be a communication wizard—able to collect a wide range of details and share them as effectively as possible. The Stage Manger’s Toolkit is more than another overview book which generalizes how to be a Stage Manager. It presents the day-to-day duties in detail—discussing not only what to do but also why. Focusing on communication best practices, the book explores objectives, paperwork, and the questions that need to be asked in order to ensure a smooth production whether on Broadway, at a university, or somewhere in between.

  • Introduces strategies for sharing information both in person and in writing

  • Explores how document design can enhance the accessibility and effectiveness of your reports, charts, and lists

  • Contains principles for web-based information sharing as well as hard-copy paperwork

  • Provides customizable paperwork templates on the accompanying website, allowing you to put the ideas to work on your own show

Other features:

Organized based on the chronology of a typical theatre production: pre-production work, rehearsals, the tech period, performances, and post-production duties. In each section, the book outlines the objectives for the stage manager and the communication techniques that will ensure success.

Provides examples of paperwork a stage manager commonly works with, including variations for plays and musicals, shortcuts for shows on an abbreviated time table, and strategies for maintaining consistency and legibility. The book highlights differences the stage manager may encounter when working on professional and academic productions.


"[The Stage Manager’s Toolkit] provides an articulate and detailed guide through the stage management of a traditional theatrical production, complete with useful paperwork samples and up-to-date considerations of technology. [It] is a welcome addition to the small cannon of stage-management texts, building on previous works while providing a unique focus on the early career experience and the systematic development of strong communication skills.

This book will be beneficial to student stage managers engaged in production work and would make an excellent resource for introductory stage-management courses and early career professionals working without access to a full-time advisor…There is enough information in this book to support a novice through the basics of stage managing a full production. Additionally, The Stage Manager's Toolkit provides a good overview of stage management for interested nonspecialist staff and faculty members who teach or supervise young stage managers. No single book can ever completely encompass the possible permutations and idiosyncrasies of production that a stage manager navigates on a regular basis. Stage-management training requires practical experience working on productions. Theatre will always be a live and collaborative art; we all learn how to do it from one another, face-to-face, and in real time. But a guide such as Kincman's is a particularly accessible and supportive resource for novices to consult along the way." Jenny Slattery, Professional Stage Manager, Theatre Topics

''This aptly named "toolkit" is not just a how-to book on stage management. Kincman effectively draws on communication theory and practical experience to address effective organizational and communication strategies in the day-to-day duties of the stage manager in academic and professional venues. The text is concise in its survey of the stage manager's tasks - from preproduction to initial meetings with the director and staff, to auditions, rehearsals, previews, and opening night through to the final performance….Summing Up: Recommended.' R.A. Naversen, CHOICE

"Kincman leads you through the process from preproduction to performance, providing examples of challenges you may be presented, forms you can use, and useful insights from her experience as a professional stage manager and educator…One standout strength of Toolkit is its wealth of great examples of forms. High school and college stage managers often create all their paperwork from scratch, so having these templates is very helpful. From rehearsal reports to scene-shift plots, blocking notation guides to run sheets and cue lists, Kincman describes how each works and why each is used…Another highlight is the beginning of this book, where Kincman discusses communication. I love that Toolkit starts with communication. It is the base of everything I do as a stage manager and effective collaborator…this book gives you exactly what you need to better understand the role of a stage manager." Don Corathers, Dramatics

"Like an air traffic controller, the stage manager must juggle multiple responsibilities and communicate quickly and clearly. That's the idea behind Laurie Kincman's exceptional book…Kincman covers pre-production work, rehearsals, the tech period, performances and post-production duties. To this she adds strategies for sharing information in person, in writing and online, as well as customizable paperwork templates (via the book's accompanying website), and tips on improving the effectiveness and accessibility of essential reports, charts, and lists." Stephen Peithman, Stage Directions

"Stage managing can be an overwhelming job, so all the better to have techniques to tame it. This toolkit not only gives you the tools to do the job, but also illustrates exactly how to use them to become a proficient stage manager." Linda Apperson, Theatre Design & Technology

"This toolkit not only gives you the tools to do the job, but also illustrates exactly how to use them to become a proficient stage manager…It would be appropriate for undergraduates who have some experience stage managing and could certainly be useful as a text book. It would also be very helpful for an early career stage manager." - Linda Apperson, Theatre Design & Technology

Table of Contents

FOREWORD by David Grindle

Introduction: The Stage Manager as Communicator


Chapter One: Avenues of Communication

Face to Face Communication

Written Communication

Chapter Two: Principles of Document Design

Identifying Your Audience


Color and Shading



What’s In a Name?

Chapter Three: Pre-Production

The Given Circumstances

The Calendar

Analyzing the Production

The Character/Scene Breakdown

Meeting with the Director

Meeting the Production Team

The Prop List


The Contact Sheet

Thinking About the SM Team

Chapter Four: The Prompt Book

Organizing the Prompt Book

Preparing the Prompt Script

The Script for the Musical

Chapter Five: Rehearsals

The First Rehearsal

Table Work

Music and Dance Rehearsals


The Daily Call



The First Runthrough

The Rehearsal Report

Production Meetings

Scene Work

Adding the Elements

Updating Paperwork

Chapter Six: Technical Rehearsals

Creating the Tech Schedule

Types of Tech Rehearsals

Preparing for Tech

Technology for the Stage Manager

Working with the Crew

The Preset List

The Shift Plot

Paperwork Variations

The Costume Plot


Stepping Up to Run the Show

Rehearsal Reports during the Tech Period

Chapter Seven: Performances


Refining Your Routine

Opening Night

Working with Front of House

Changing Personnel

The Performance Report

Maintaining the Artistic Integrity of Your Show

Working with Understudies

Emergency Plans and Problem Solving

Chapter Eight: Next Steps

Moving the Production

The End of the Line- Or Is It?



About the Author

Laurie Kincman is a faculty member in the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, heading the undergraduate emphases in stage management and arts administration. Her professional credits as a stage manager and production manager include work with the Old Globe Theatre, Malashock Dance & Company, Shakespeare Festival/LA, Opera Pacific, the California Ballet Company, American Stage Festival, and for choreographers Jessica Iwanson and Donald McKayle. Laurie is a member of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, the Production Managers Forum, the Stage Managers Association, the Association for Arts Administration Educators, and Actors Equity Association.

About the Series

The Focal Press Toolkit Series

Regardless of your profession, whether you’re a Stage Manager or Stagehand, The Focal Press Toolkit Series has you covered. With all the insider secrets, paperwork, and day-to-day details that you could ever need for your chosen profession or specialty, these books provide you with a one-stop-shop to ensure a smooth production process.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / General