MORE STAGE MANAGEMENT JOBS
Stage managers keep us on task. They keep us on schedule. They keep us safe.
Yet despite the incredible importance of the role our stage managers play in our rehearsals and performances, they are too often undervalued within their own union. This manifests itself in a number of ways, but among the most concerning is the way in which our contracts too often allow stage management teams to be understaffed and under-protected.
I've spent the majority of my career as an actor working on smaller contracts with independent producers, and often that means working without an Equity ASM. In those situations, one of two things is happening: either the lack of an Equity ASM has made me less safe (ask me about the time I was electrocuted during tech), or the lack of a contract has meant that a highly-capable and qualified professional hasn't been afforded fair wages and working conditions. Neither is acceptable to me.
Similarly, I recently had the chance to work as an understudy on the national tour of a show. But because it was a play, the Production Contract only required two stage managers on our team—a PSM who called the show, and an SM who ran the deck. Neither had any coverage. If either had gotten sick, or gotten hurt, or had a death in their family, they would have had to choose between staying at work, or allowing the show to be cancelled. It was hard to stomach the hypocrisy, because my very job existed to ensure that the actors in the show were properly cared for, and yet our contract with the Broadway League offers our SMs on touring productions like mine no such protection.
Both of these problems have the same solution: more jobs for stage managers.
As an actor, I thank my lucky stars every day that we have stage managers. And we owe them—both as workers and as fellow union members—our commitment to ensure that their contract provisions and protections are just as robust as those of actors.
In my capacity as a Vice President, I will always insist that any agreement negotiated by an employer with Actors' Equity include required Equity ASMs, and move every employer towards full and appropriate staffing of their SM teams.