Pimp Your Prompt Book: Three Tips for Aspiring Stage Managers

pimp your prompt book

Over at NTSA, we love our stage managers (SMs). Armed with spike tape, pencils, and batteries, they keep all of our productions running smoothly. Our assistant stage managers (ASMs) frequently continue on with us to become SMs, and our SMs often branch out into other positions at NTSA like Company Manager, Production Manager, and even Co-Executive Director. Want to join the NTSA SM team? Here are some of our top tips on how to ace the application.

1. Prep Your Paperwork.

Start by getting together a massive pile of paperwork from your previous productions. Hopefully, you have a carefully-organized library of your prompt books that you can pull out at a moment’s notice. However, it’s also possible that you have paperwork scattered all over that needs to be pulled together from different sources. (We don’t all start out our careers as picture-perfect stage managers!) So now’s your chance to search your inbox for rehearsal reports, dig through your hard-drive for shift plots, and check that backpack from three years ago to see if freshman-you may have left any crumpled-up emergency procedure notes at the bottom. Until you have everything together in one spot, you can’t really get an accurate idea of what your best material might be.

2. Viva La Variety!

At NTSA, we’re looking for a wide range of skills on your application. Yes, we want to see that you can write cues and blocking notations into your prompt book. But we also want to see your set, prop, and costume plots; your daily rehearsal and performance reports; your memos and shift plots; your scene breakdowns and production calendars . . . Basically, if you created it (and not your director), we want to see it. You can only submit ten pages of paperwork for your NTSA application, so make sure that you choose pages that show us a variety of skills. Don’t just submit ten pages of cues. Show us all kinds of paperwork!

3. Showcase Your Skills.

Also, make sure that the ten pages you’re submitting are the best possible examples of your work. For instance, if you’re choosing a page that showcases your ability to write cues into your prompt book, don’t pick a page that only features one lighting cue. Pick your most challenging page — the one that was nearly impossible to call during the performance. (If you’ve ever stage managed a musical, definitely consider including a page from a musical number. Musicals are notoriously tough to call, and if that’s a skill you already have, we’d love to see it!) If you’re choosing a page from a performance report, don’t choose one from a performance where everything went smoothly. (No one wants to read: “Scenery — No notes. Props — No notes. Costumes — No notes.”) Pick a performance from early in the run where there were a ton of problems that needed to be addressed. Those make for the most interesting paperwork!

And for ASMs: In order to apply to be an ASM with NTSA, you just need to write a brief statement (one page or less) that details any work that you’ve previously done as a stage manager and why you’re interested in being an NTSA ASM this summer. If you haven’t done any previous work in stage management, don’t worry! You can just tell us why you’re interested in stage management and want to join the program. We would, however, recommend that you tell us about some of the leadership skills that you’ve developed that would make you a great stage manager. Are you really well-organized? Do you pay attention to details? Are you good at taking charge when you’re working with your peers? Are you a calm, supportive, and encouraging person to be around? Do you just straight-up get the job done? We want to read all about it!

Once you've picked out the best of your prompt book (or written your ASM statement), CLICK HERE to apply to NTSA!

Posted on Dec 18, 2017 in Auditions  

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