Equity Kicks Off Celebrations for the 'Year of the Stage Manager'
Actors' Equity Association is officially commemorating the "Year of the Stage Manager" on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020 - 100 years after a landmark decision that encoded the place of stage managers in the union. To mark the occasion, Equity is inviting members to share their stories working as or with a stage manager on social media.
From the beginning, stage managers became members of Actors' Equity. But only seven years into the union's existence, on February 16, 1920, the union has its first record of recognizing a stage manager as a distinct part of the organization.
A year prior, an assistant manager in the union was working on a show that closed. While the producer was obligated to compensate actors two weeks' pay, he attempted to exclude the stage manager from this same protection. The ASM petitioned that as a member of the union, he deserved the severance due his peers. Equity successfully defended him, and in early 1920, Council realized that the time had come to formally include stage managers in the organization. On February 16, Council moved that SMs and ASMs should explicitly be members of an Equity company, with the same protections as performers. From that point on, negotiations included provisions for stage managers, and SMs soon had their own section in the rulebook.
To commemorate the date of that historic shift, this Sunday Equity will dedicate its social media to sharing the story of stage managers working across the country, making sure that productions run smoothly and professionally. Equity also invites all stage managers to reach out on social media with their own stories with the hashtag #YearoftheStageManager.
"I know firsthand that stage managers often work in the shadows," said Ira Mont, production stage manager on Jagged Little Pill and third vice president of the Actors' Equity. "I'm proud that we are able to use the Year of the Stage Manager to highlight not just how important it is that stage managers are part of Equity, but how the work we do every day makes it possible for the show to go on."