The Care and Feeding of your Stage Management Apprentice

I sit on the National Stage Management Committee where we are having an ongoing conversation about the apprenticeships and how we can improve them. Last night, during our conference call, Allan Teichman (CAEA Council president) sent around a list he’d written as an article for the Equity News some years ago. Below is a revised & updated version of his original article.

  • Get them involved; they are there to learn through doing.
  • Remember that their job is not regulated by the agreement; ensure that they are working reasonable hours and handling reasonable tasks.
  • They may be making a fraction of your fee, or even next to nothing, but don’t let them feel like cheap labour.
  • Give respect and you’ll get respect.
  • Even the most inexperienced apprentice can, with guidance, create a props list from the ground up.
  • Where they go wrong, constructively let them know how and why and which way improvement lies.
  • If there is no ASM, make the apprentice feel like one; most will rise to the challenge.
  • Take them to lunch some day.
  • You make the coffee sometime, and let them take a stab at some of your work.
  • Don¹t abandon your apprentice after a rehearsal or performance.
  • When they look like they are confused, take a moment to explain.
  • Take a moment to explain anyway.
  • Help them reset props, start laundry or do dishes; it doesn’t take long and gives them a chance to ask questions.
  • If you want to expect responsibility, you must first confer responsibility.
  • Make them part of a team, not part of a chain.
  • Listen to the their suggestions, and if you disagree, explain why.
  • Train someone who will one day be able to competently stand in your stead.
  • Remember what your apprenticeship was like and make theirs better.
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About Lois

I am a Vancouver-based Stage Manager and frequent theatre goer. After graduating from Trinity Western University I spent two seasons as the resident stage manager at Pacific Theatre. Now I am working as a freelancer with various companies in Vancouver.

One Comment

  1. Great advice! I was treated similarly when I was learning to stage manage, and not being treated as inferior to the SM really helps build your confidence. I’m writing about theatre too, though much less technical: https://ghostlightbway.wordpress.com/

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