Production Management as a conduit.
What makes a good Production Stage Manager (PSM) is a person who can interact with the different components of production in a positive way. The skill becomes evident when you, as the go-to production person, can empathize, plan and champion with each entity. For example, when you make a production schedule, put yourself in each of the other’s shoes, i.e., you must consider the following: administration, labor, director or choreographer, designers (lighting, scenic, costumer), dancer, musician, conductor, venue. Of course, this is a bit of an impossibility so you must choose the top priority of this enterprise. Since you are going to be, for most part, on the stage, perhaps your choices might include the venue, director/choreographer, company manager, lighting designer (since that is the last person to see their work on the stage), and the performer. The exercise becomes important to see the schedule from each person’s position even if all cannot be accommodated (hence being empathic but strong enough to instate the schedule). Always confirming with the company manager who is in charge of logistics, housing, transportation etc., lighting designer who knows how long the need to set up, focus and cue a show, the venue production manager, artistic director who has rehearsed and knows their hearts desire and deepest wishes, this is the diciest of these negotiations. In dance one is lucky, if you have two days to get a show on. Usually in theater– plays, musicals etc.– you have many more days in this time frame. For my part, I usually draft up a schedule with the given information and then have the people I have prioritized, give their invaluable expertise to improve it wherever possible. The schedule is then published and given to all involved. The venue usually expects the information sometimes two to three months in advance, which sometimes is problematic if a new work isn’t complete or repertory hasn’t been totally resolved. However, you want as many on board so you send a technical addendum usually with the contract and update as more knowledge becomes available. The schedule is then published and given to all involved. The proof comes from the actual carrying out of the plan. It is best not to change unless some unforeseen event has occurred.