How to Properly Cue as a Stage Manager

In the intricate world of stage management, a crucial aspect of the performance is the execution of cues. Each cue holds it’s own distinct sequence, adding layers of complexity to the production. Our focus now lies on the role of the stage manager in calling these cues. Depending on the specific system in place, the cues can be structured in different ways. For instance, one system might require the stage manager to call cues individually, such as Lights 1, Sound 1, Lights 2, Rail 1, Lights 3, and so on. The dexterous art of cue calling is a vital component in ensuring a seamless and captivating theatrical experience for both the cast and the audience.

What Is Theater Cue to Cue?

Defines theater cue to cue as a technical rehearsal in which the cues for lights, sound, and other technical elements are rehearsed in sequence. This can be a time-consuming process where each cue is meticulously timed and rehearsed to ensure smooth transitions during the performance.

During a cue to cue rehearsal, the actors are usually not required to perform the entire scene or play. Instead, they’ll only perform the necessary actions or lines that directly precede or follow a technical cue. This allows the crew to focus solely on the technical aspects and iron out any timing or technical issues that may arise.

It’s a crucial part of the rehearsal process, ensuring that everything is ready for the final performances.

They provide the opportunity to fine-tune the technical aspects, allowing the show to shine and create a seamless experience for the audience.

The Role of the Design Team (Lighting, Sound, Set) in Cue to Cue Rehearsals and Their Collaboration With the Director and Stage Manager.

  • The design team plays a crucial role in cue to cue rehearsals.
  • They’re responsible for creating and executing the lighting, sound, and set designs.
  • During the cue to cue rehearsals, the lighting designer focuses on determining the timing and intensity of each lighting cue.
  • The sound designer works closely with the director and stage manager to ensure that sound effects and music cues are properly incorporated into the production.
  • The set designer collaborates with the director and stage manager to ensure that the set changes and movements are executed smoothly.
  • The design team’s collaboration with the director and stage manager is essential in cue to cue rehearsals as it helps to bring the artistic vision of the production to life.
  • They work together to ensure that all technical aspects of the show are coordinated and synchronized.
  • The director provides guidance and feedback to the design team, while the stage manager keeps track of the cues and coordinates with the crew.
  • Effective communication and teamwork are key in cue to cue rehearsals to ensure a seamless and polished final production.

As the backbone of any theater production, the stage manager’s role goes far beyond simply blocking the show. While they do work closely with the director and artistic staff to record all the necessary details, their main responsibility is to observe and listen attentively, ensuring that no aspect of the production is neglected. Their meticulousness and attention to detail play a crucial role, allowing the director to focus their energy on the creative vision of the show.

Does a Stage Manager Block the Show?

The stage manager is responsible for maintaining the artistic vision of the director and ensuring that all technical aspects of the production run smoothly. They collaborate with the production team to coordinate the execution of blocking, which involves the movement and positioning of actors on stage. Through meticulous note-taking, the stage manager documents each action, creating a detailed record to guide the cast and crew throughout the production process.

Their careful observations and documentation ensure that the directors creative vision is realized on stage, and their coordination guarantees a smooth and efficient performance. Without the stage managers dedication and expertise, a production would lack the precision and cohesion necessary to captivate and engage an audience.

The Role of a Stage Manager in Cueing Technical Elements of a Production, Such as Lighting and Sound

  • Coordinating the execution of technical cues during a production
  • Ensuring smooth transitions between scenes and technical elements
  • Working closely with the director, lighting designer, and sound engineer
  • Scheduling and organizing cue rehearsals for the technical team
  • Creating cue sheets to guide the execution of lighting and sound cues
  • Communicating with the stage crew to ensure proper execution of cues
  • Troubleshooting technical issues that may arise during rehearsals or performances
  • Adapting cues to changes in the production, such as blocking or set design changes
  • Collaborating with other departments, such as props and costumes, to ensure smooth coordination of cues
  • Maintaining equipment and ensuring it’s proper functioning

Source: So, What Does a Stage Manager Do, Anyway? – Theatrefolk

In addition to the administrative tasks, stage managers play a crucial role in maintaining an efficient and professional atmosphere during auditions. They greet actors, provide them with any necessary paperwork, and answer any questions they may have. They may also be responsible for taking notes on actor performances, tracking auditions, and organizing callback lists. With their attention to detail and organizational skills, stage managers ensure that auditions run seamlessly and that all necessary information is captured for the director and production team.

What Do Stage Managers Do During Auditions?

During auditions, stage managers play a crucial role in the behind-the-scenes process. One of their responsibilities is to create audition forms, which include important information such as the actors contact details, availability, and previous experience. These forms help the director review and compare the candidates later on.

Assisting the director in organizing materials is another vital task for stage managers during auditions. They help collect and organize headshots and resumes from the actors, making sure each candidates information is readily available for reference. This helps streamline the decision-making process and ensures that all relevant details are taken into consideration.

In addition to paperwork, stage managers also work on logistics related to auditions. They may draft emails to auditionees, providing them with necessary details such as the location, date, and time of auditions. They may also coordinate scheduling, considering the availability of both the actors and the production team, to ensure a smooth and efficient audition process.

The stage manager is the ultimate conductor of the performance, ensuring that all technical elements are executed seamlessly. From the comfort of the booth, they communicate through headsets, precisely coordinating each cue with the respective operators. Whether it’s a lighting change, sound effect, or the movement of stagehands, the stage manager’s cues bring the production to life. Their expertise and meticulous attention to detail ensure a flawless, well-coordinated show.

How a Stage Manager Calls a Show?

The stage manager will have a detailed cue sheet that outlines all the technical cues for the show. This includes when certain lights need to be turned on or off, when sound effects should be played, when microphones should be turned on or off, and when spotlights should be focused on specific actors or areas of the stage.

As the show progresses, the stage manager will closely follow the script and the action onstage, ensuring that all cues are called at the appropriate times. This requires a great deal of focus and attention to detail, as even the slightest delay or mistake in cueing can disrupt the flow of the performance.

To effectively call the show, the stage manager must have a strong understanding of the shows technical elements and a good rapport with the backstage crew. They need to communicate clearly and concisely over the headset, giving cues in a way that’s easy for the operators to understand and execute.

In addition to calling the cues, the stage manager is also responsible for troubleshooting any technical issues that may arise during the performance. This could involve quickly finding a solution to a malfunctioning piece of equipment or coordinating with the backstage crew to make a last-minute adjustment.

Working With Actors: Highlight the Stage Manager’s Role in Supporting Actors During Performances, Such as Providing Vocal and Physical Warm-Ups, Overseeing Quick Changes, and Managing Backstage Safety.

  • Provide vocal and physical warm-ups for actors
  • Oversee quick changes
  • Manage backstage safety

Now, let’s dive deeper into the process of writing cues in a script for stage managers. It’s essential to approach this task with the mindset of preparing for someone else to call the show. By clearly marking all “Warning,” “Stand By,” and “Go” cues in your prompt book, you can ensure a smooth and efficient performance. So, let’s explore the key steps to effectively write cues and create a comprehensive prompt book for a stage manager’s reference.

How Do You Write Cues in a Script Stage Manager?

When writing cues in a script for a stage manager, it’s essential to keep in mind the expected level of experience and familiarity with the show. You should assume that the person calling the show is a moderately experienced stage manager who requires clear and concise cues. As such, it’s important to write cues into your prompt book in a way that can easily be understood and executed.

These cues include “Warning,” “Stand By,” and “Go” cues, which are crucial for the smooth execution of the show. By clearly indicating these cues, you provide the stage manager with a clear roadmap of when certain events should take place.

Additionally, ensure that your cues are easy to read and comprehend. Use a legible font and format that’s consistent throughout the prompt book. It’s important to prioritize clarity and simplicity to avoid confusion during the show.

When writing cues, be specific and precise. Include relevant information such as lighting changes, sound cues, set movements, and actor entrances or exits. This level of detail allows the stage manager to anticipate and coordinate the various elements of the production effectively.

Consider the timing and pacing of the cues. You should indicate the precise moment at which each cue should be called to ensure that the show runs smoothly and seamlessly. Avoid vague or ambiguous instructions that could lead to confusion or misinterpretation.

Lastly, it can be helpful to organize your cues in a logical manner. Group cues together based on scenes or technical aspects, such as lighting or sound. This organization allows the stage manager to quickly locate and execute the appropriate cues during the show.

This clarity will contribute to a successful and well-coordinated production.

Effective communication is crucial in stage management as it facilitates the smooth running of a production. From coordinating blocking and scheduling rehearsals to calling a show, clear and timely communication is essential. Without effective communication, the production director would struggle to manage the various elements of a production, leading to potential delays, confusion, and ultimately a compromised performance.

Why Is Communication Important in Stage Management?

Without effective communication, the stage manager may struggle to convey important information to the cast and crew, leading to confusion and missed opportunities. It’s the stage managers responsibility to ensure that everyone involved in the production is on the same page and informed of any changes or updates. This includes communicating with the director, designers, technicians, actors, and other members of the production team.

In terms of blocking, communication is essential for the stage manager to efficiently convey the directors intentions to the cast. They must be able to articulate the physical movements and positions of the actors, ensuring that everyone understands and follows the blocking instructions. This allows for a coherent and cohesive performance, enhancing the audiences experience.

Additionally, effective communication is vital for problem-solving and troubleshooting. The stage manager is often the go-to person for addressing issues or concerns that arise during rehearsals or performances.

The Role of Communication in Crisis Management for Stage Managers

  • Effective communication is crucial in crisis management for stage managers
  • Clear and concise communication helps in conveying important information to the entire team
  • Communication allows stage managers to coordinate and collaborate with various departments
  • It helps in disseminating vital updates and instructions during a crisis situation
  • Timely and accurate communication reduces confusion and minimizes risks
  • Stage managers must maintain open lines of communication with the production crew, cast, and other stakeholders
  • Communication also involves active listening and understanding the concerns of others
  • Being able to adapt communication strategies to different individuals or groups is essential
  • Having effective crisis communication plans in place helps stage managers respond swiftly and efficiently
  • Regular communication channels, such as meetings or emails, should be established and maintained
  • Stage managers should also be prepared to communicate effectively in high-stress situations
  • Overall, strong communication skills are vital for stage managers to successfully handle crises


In the role of a stage manager, calling cues is an essential task that requires meticulous attention to detail. With each cue having it’s own unique sequence, the stage manager assumes the responsibility of coordinating and communicating these cues effectively. Through their expertise and experience, they navigate the complex web of cues, making split-second decisions and ensuring that each cue is accurately called, contributing to the overall success of the performance.

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