Document Type

Honors Thesis


Theater, Psychology


Rebecca Schwartz-Metta, Mary Jean "MJ" Sedlock

Committee Members

Jordan LaBouff

Graduation Year

May 2023

Publication Date

Spring 2023


The stage manager plays a vital role in the creation of theater performances; they are responsible for ensuring the smooth execution of a show from beginning to end. They are in charge of facilitating communication between all departments, running the technical elements once the show starts, and keeping information organized throughout the entire process. There are several resources that lay out the simple job description and requirements of this role, yet few discuss specific traits that distinguish the best stage managers. Those that do endeavor to go beyond a simple job description come from only the perspective of the stage manager and do not address the perspective of the team with whom they work. This research draws from the scholarly literature, the author’s own experiences as a stage manager, and a survey of a cast and production team from a previous production to determine what the most important qualities of a stage manager are to the entire team. Upon collecting this data, many of the identified traits were consistent with the five-factor model of personality (Olsen, 2020). Personality has been shown to correlate with job success in certain fields. The five-factor model of personality has been shown to effectively break down personality into five major traits which can be used for analysis.

For stage management, the most important personality factors are extraversion, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. Extraversion is important to the collaborative nature of the stage manager’s job. It allows them to create positive working relationships with the whole team. Conscientiousness is a vital part of staying organized and on top of the information that they have to gather. Neuroticism, or emotional adjustment, means the stage manager can stay calm in the stressful situations that inevitably arise in the making


of theater. The remaining two factors, openness to experience and agreeableness are less important to the role as they can vary more with an individual stage manager’s personal style. While openness to experience can be useful in problem solving, by creating a strong team the stage manager does not have to do it alone. Agreeableness comes down to each stage manager’s personal style. While it can be important to be kind and warm to the people they work with, there are also times that it can be a detriment.