A stage show is a live show or performance performed on a stage or deck or any designated space by actors, performers, musicians, models and so on. A stage show can also be a theatre performance which involves a collaboration of several actors and performers whose performance is watched by a live audience. The experience can be a real or imagined event which is communicated by the performers to the audience by use of dance, gestures, music, song and speech. Stage shows also involve various elements of art such as props, screens, painted scenery besides the effective use of light and sound. The integrated whole package conveys a story or an event with all the human emotions strung together – anger, friendship, humor, love, pathos, regret and so on.
The ancient Greek dramas were the forerunners to the modern theatre forms; many elements such as classification, themes, characters, plots and settings, even stage writing and theatrical language have been borrowed from the performances of the ancient days. Remains of ancient viewing galleries and theatre arenas in Green and Roman civilizations are ample evidence of the presence of stage shows and theatre performances from those days. In the course of time, stage shows evolved to include long-running plays, musical shows, ballet, operas, and various other forms.
The organization of a stage show or theatrical production is called stage management. In the modern era, stage management has become a sub-discipline of stagecraft which covers a whole range of activities such as:
• Organizing the production
• Coordinating communication channels with various personnel – e.g. director, stage crew, production management, actors, technical professionals etc.
• Managing schedules
• Ensuring proper infrastructure requirements
• Costumes and accessories
Stage show management requires a professional Stage Manager who can undertake overall responsibility of the various functions involved in the organization and execution of a stage production. A single individual can perform the task of a Stage Manager; however larger productions usually involve the presence of a professional team with several persons experienced in the different functional requirements. In such instances, usually there is an overall authority with the title Stage Manager with heads for different functions such as production, lighting, technical, personnel, etc.
Modern Stage Managers require professional qualifications and suitable experience to be accepted for the role. But the overriding qualities needed include the ability and temperament to deal with different people, an understanding of the artistic and technical aspects, good planning and organizing skills, a head for prioritizing and multi-tasking and being calm and composed even under pressure. Stage management can be a hugely demanding career.
It’s interesting to know that until the 16th century, many playwrights and actors themselves undertook management duties handling general, directorial and financial aspects of production. It was only in the 17th century that the distinct function of stage management emerged and it was in the 18th century that a separate person was hired for the specific purpose. Over the years, the role of a Stage Manager became clearly defined.