A year in the life of a Stage Manager

15 Mar 2016

A year in the life of a Stage Manager

"What do stage managers actually DO?”, we hear you ask! We asked a couple of our tutors what the highlights of the past year have been.

Ryan Tate is a graduate of AFTT’s Advanced Diploma of Stage Management and has worked in Events and Stage Management since 2006, working in both Australia and Britain. His theatre credits include “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”, Bell Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew”, “42nd Street”, “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The King and I”. He was also The Venue Co-ordinator of the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening & Closing ceremonies.

Here’s a snapshot of Ryan’s past year:


In the past year my life has been pretty diverse with shows I have stage managed. I got to open a new Children's play, “The Incredible Book Eating Boy” at the Sydney Opera House before touring it up the East Coast for many excited children's audiences. I returned to start on Daylight Saving, an Australian play by the late, great Nick Enright at Eternity Playhouse with a fantastic cast.

My next venture was to return to a children's puppet show I had worked on previously, but this time it was the sequel, Charlie & Lola's Extremely New Play, which we toured to Melbourne and Perth over summer. I find myself now approaching 80 shows as Deputy Stage Manager on Strictly Ballroom The Musical (directed by Baz Luhrman), down in Melbourne and many more to go.  

Having trained as a Stage Manager at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, Farlie has worked in many and varied roles from theatre, to live events, to opera.

Here’s a snapshot of Farlie’s past year


After being a professional stage manager for over 10 years, I was recently offered a 'Job of a Lifetime', which I accepted with excitement and eagerness. This job was to be Stage Manager an Russian Opera called “Eugene Onegin” for a national tour of Norway, working for a wonderful company called NOSO (Nord Norway Opera and Symphony Orchestra). My first thought was “Brilliant, I get to be paid to travel in a new country – a  holiday!” My second thought was “How am I going to understand the language and be able to do my job correctly”, which caused no small amount of fear.  This experience was full of excitement, challenges, adventure and new found friendships. On the first day in rehearsals I realized that 90% of rehearsals would be in Norwegian and very quickly that stage management  in Norway is not the same type of stage management in Australia. Because of this, I had to train the director, the performers and the creatives in my way of stage management. This caused some tension, especially dealing with a second language but ultimately it resulted in great appreciation of stage management, communication and the ability to overcome challenges.

I can now confidently say that music is an entirely international language and can be understood by all. It was an experience of a lifetime because I got the opportunity to share my love of stage management, to work with amazing international performers and of course, have a great holiday in Norway. I'll be going back next year!  

Our Advanced Diploma of Theatre Production and Management Services is not simply limited to stage productions. This course will prepare you for all manner of  large-scale events, such as the Olympic Opening and Closing ceremonies that Ryan worked on, to festivals, galas and corporate events. More importantly, it will teach you invaluable skills in management and communication that can be applied to any job in any industry. So what are you waiting for?