“I can’t I have rehearsal,” seems to be about all my non-theater friends hear from me nowadays. What they think is an excruciating 4 hours of my life every evening is something that I look forward to. As a first time Assistant Stage Manager I realize that rehearsal is a number one priority; especially with the amazing cast we have who all work very hard.
Being a first time ASM has been quite an interesting experience so far, and I now realize I didn’t know what I was signing myself up for. So, I have made a list of ASM job criteria that are my favorite and sometimes least favorite things to do. These criteria also include things I may have overlooked when signing on for the job (a job I love every second of).
1. Stage Manager is Queen.
As an Assistant Stage Manager it is crucial to listen, watch, and learn from the Stage Manager. Without their reassurance and guidance you will have absolutely no idea what you are doing. Also, if your Stage Manager has a cookie obsession it’s important to make sure it’s taken care of before rehearsal.
2. Take Good Rehearsal Notes.
It is very important to take accurate rehearsal notes so that each part of the tech team, actors, and directors can keep track of what has been accomplished and goals we have yet to complete. Without rehearsal notes the world would probably come to an end. That or your Stage Manager’s brain might explode (even with the cookies present).
3. Prepare the Stage.
While some may find it fun to explore the sets and test them we, as Assistant Stage Managers and Stage Managers know the importance of having them swept off and nail/screw free so the actors are safe. Although, if your other ASM is a perfectionist when it comes to sweeping you might want to assign her a different job because before sets are finished the stage is never perfectly clean.
4. Always Pay Attention to Where They Are in the Script.
It’s important to follow along and know where the directors are working from in the script during rehearsals. That way if you need to read a few lines for someone you are always prepared and ready to go. It’s pretty frowned upon for a director/assistant director to have to read lines for absent people. That’s where the ASM and SM step in.
5. Lastly, Always be Prepared.
It is important to always have your script, laptop and pencil as an ASM so that you are always prepared. It also doesn’t hurt to have a blanket and gloves for when the theater happens to be freezing. In that case a blanket party usually ensues.
I love every second of being an Assistant Stage Manager. I’m so thankful that I have the wonderful experience of learning new things every single day while also having fun. Without the amazing cast, directors, stage manager and tech crew I know this wouldn’t be half the amazing experience it has been, and I can’t wait for more.