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What does a stage manager do?

We spoke to Sarah-Linn Taylor about what a stage manager does, how to get into the industry and her favourite part of working on Get Up, Stand Up! the musical.

Get up, Stand Up! are currently offering traineeships in the Stage Management and Sound departments for Arts Emergency Young Talent. If you think your organisation could offer a valuable placement or experience visit our Opportunities page.

How would your friends describe you in three words?
Pedantic, caring and tired.

How did you get started?
I didn’t come from a theatre background. I grew up in the country and am still, I believe, the only teenager from my village to go on to drama school (to study Stage Management). When I was younger my brother LOVED musical theatre so I was always brought along. Because I was so young I didn’t follow the storylines and I didn’t appreciate the performances. I did however look and watch all the mind-blowing things going on around me. When I was 12 I was taken to Starlight Express (absolute guilty pleasure of mine now) and I remember watching all these actors flying around me on roller skates and I thought to myself “how are they doing that I have to find out”.

I always struggled at school and never understood why. I later found out at drama school that I was heavily Dyslexic. I did some research and found out that a college not too far away had a theatre school attached to it where you could gain a BTEC qualification. I knew I wouldn’t get the GSCE results for the course but the college offered extra support in English and Maths for those that didn’t pass the entry requirements. I spent two years at The Miskin Theatre gaining my BTEC which then gave me a chance to apply for drama school. There was only one drama school I wanted to train at (LAMDA). I didn’t believe I actually stood a chance but when my acceptance letter came I couldn’t believe it. I packed up my life, moved to London and never looked back. I have worked hard to get where I am now. Working all over the world, the country and of course London’s West End.

What does your job involve?
As the Stage Manager my key responsibility is the safety of all those working on the stage (performers and technical teams.) As well as running the stage for all scene changes, and running of the wings. I run a department of four others. I have to keep each show staffed and running smoothly. I must maintain the creative ideas of the production.

Any tips for someone who wants to pursue a career in your field?
There are a thousand ways to get into the industry so finding the way that works for you and what you need is so important. You don’t need a degree unless you want one. I went to drama school yes, but I don’t have a degree. However you get into the industry remember, you are only as good as your last job. Lastly, on time is late.

What's been your favourite part of working on Get Up, Stand Up! so far?
It's a show to be proud of, we have not only opened a NEW production in the middle of a pandemic but we have opened a production to teach the world about an iconic man. I started this production as the Assistant Stage Manager and since November I have been the Stage Manager. I have learnt so much about myself and I have an incredible team behind me.

What might people find surprising about your job?
It's never just a job, it becomes family.

What do you think someone could get out of a work placement in your department?
An honest representation of the industry. We work hard and we love what we do. Teamwork is everything.