Production management

RSC workshop staff working on a chandelier for the Hamlet set. Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC

Extract from the Rehearsal Scrapbook in the 2008 production programme:

The Production Manager (PM) is involved in a production from beginning to end, supervising collaboration between the creative and the technical teams. Coordinating all the physical aspects of a production, such as scenery, lighting, props, sound, costume and special effects, involves many departments and the PM works in close collaboration with all of these to realise the creative vision of the artistic team.

The life of a production begins with a design brief, written by the PM, which prescribes the parameters of the production. The designer then produces a detailed scale model of the set, which is assessed for practicality, safety and affordability by the PM and construction departments.

Once in rehearsal, the PM chairs a series of meetings attended by the director, designers, construction and show running departments, where progress, changes, rehearsal developments and artistic requirements are discussed. The PM also draws up the production schedule, which timetables the preparation and installation of the show into the theatre.

Then comes the hectic business of 'fitting up' a show: the initial assembly on stage of all the hardware needed for a production. This is followed by the technical and dress rehearsals and then the preview performances, all coordinated by the PM.

Even when a production is safely up and running and in the hands of the stage manager, the PM has a role in responding to requests for maintenance and repair, as the life of a production is often measured in months and sometimes years. When this life is extended as productions are transferred to London, Newcastle or cities around the world, the PM will be involved in the process of moving the show into its new home and ensuring that the original vision of the artistic team is preserved.

Written by Simon Ash, Production Manager
Photograph by Ellie Kurttz shows RSC workshop staff working on a chandelier for the Hamlet set © RSC

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Teaching Shakespeare