The Stage Management Concentration

The MFA in Stage Management provides a contemporary approach for students who wish to pursue careers as professional stage managers. The program’s three-year curriculum is designed to expand upon two central principles: first, stage managers must have portable, flexible, and scalable skill-sets that allow them to work in a variety of arenas. Second, modern stage management requires its practitioners to embrace the concept of the stage manager as a “hybrid CEO/COO”, an executive-level position that is at the top of any production’s organizational chart.

The coursework uses methodologies specific to commercial (Broadway) and not-for-profit theatrical stage management as a foundation. This allows students to build best practices in many other areas: opera, dance, television, and corporate events, to name a few. Courses in dramatic literature and all aspects of theatre practice are mandatory; enrollment in relevant classes outside the Theatre Program is encouraged. Students are expected to develop a comprehensive knowledge of union regulations and theatre administration, as well as a working knowledge of various theatrical aesthetics that enhance the creative development of a production.

 

A major focus of the program is on leadership training: setting the tone, driving the process, and delivering results. Current trends in workplace culture, team dynamics, and human-resource management are actively analyzed and discussed across all professional settings.

 

Classroom courses are augmented by practical experience that gives students hands-on participation in the production process, in both academic and professional situations. Stage management students are required to work on departmental presentations, as well as complete at least two internships in professional theatre. Individually designed field studies allow for the exploration of ancillary interests in other realms of entertainment management. Finally, the program gives students the opportunity to build contacts with subject-matter-experts who are working at the highest industry levels; this gives graduates a leading-edge when they enter an intensely competitive job market.

Columbia stage managers meet legendary producer/director Harold Prince, Spring 2015