Course Catalogue

This is a listing of all the courses that we have offered over the past 5 years. Some courses are offered every year, while others are offered every 2 to 3 years. See the course Calendar for the courses being offered this year. The instructors listed are people who have taught the course in the past.

Assistant Stage Managing

A discussion of the various skills requried of an Assistant Stage Manager. How can they successfully work with the Stage Manager, cast, and crew? What is an effective strategy for planning your daily and weekly activities?

Section: Positions
Offered: Positions, Toronto 2016, Halifax 2018,

Instructors: Erin Fitzgerald (2012 - present), Barry Burns (2010), Michael Sinclair (2004 - 2009), Hannah Burrows (Halifax), Rachel Bland (Vancouver)

Calling a Show & Prompt Scripts

A Stage Manager must be able to incorporate, co-ordinate and call the various technical cues for a production. We will look at some of the techniques used to ensure that the lights, sound, special effects, flies, and many other important technical requirements are executed properly. Also includes an overview of the structure of a prompt script.

Section: Basic Skills
Offered: Basic Skills, Toronto 2017,

Instructors: Crystal Salverda (2018), Lisa Russell (Calgary), Kristin McCollum (2017), Kate Porter (2015 - 2016), Kathryn Westoll (2006 - 2012)

Canadian Theatre Agreement

A study of the Stage Management clauses in the 2015 – 2018 Canadian Theatre Agreement using general concepts and specific examples. Every Stage Manager working on a CAEA production must be very familiar with this document in order to plan and maintain a production.  Copies of the current Agreement will be provided.

This course takes place at the Equity offices (Toronto conference only)

Section: Basic Skills
Offered: Basic Skills, Toronto 2017, Halifax 2018,

Instructors: Jennifer Riedle (2018), Keith Davidson (2009 - 2017), Dustyn Wales (2016 - 2018 & Halifax), Lynn McQueen (Toronto 2011 - 2015 & On The Road), Ken Burns (2000 - 2009)

Company Management

How do the Company Manager and Stage Manager relate to each other? What is a Company Manager responsible for? When there is no Company Manager which responsibilities are taken over by the Stage Manager? How often are Company Managers hired in Canada?

Section: Positions
Offered: Positions,

Instructors: Rosie Driscoll (2018), Susan McNair Reid (Calgary), Barry Burns (2015), Tim Wisener (2011)

Conference Pass - Halifax 2018

The Conference Pass includes all 9 courses plus 1 panel discussion for a total of $300 ($30/course, actual value $365).

Two courses can be cancelled for a Conference Passholder before the 85% policy is initiated for any remaining cancelled courses.

Section: Conference Pass
Offered: Halifax 2018,

Conference Pass - Toronto 2018

The Conference Pass includes all 21 courses for a total of $500 ($24/course, actual value $735).
Four courses can be cancelled for a Conference Passholder before the 85% policy is initiated for any remaining cancelled courses.

Section: Conference Pass
Offered: Toronto 2018,

Creating a Safe Workspace

An interactive and experiential workshop for stage managers to enhance their knowledge and skills to effectively assess and respond to situations of harassment in the rehearsal hall that they may witness or have disclosed to them. Participants will be updated with expectations of their role through review of relevant anti-harassment legislation, policy and related industry initiatives such as CAEA's Not in OUR Space! campaign. Participants will also have an opportunity to practice responding to actor animated role plays of potential scenarios

Section: Advanced Basics
Offered: Advanced Basics,

Instructors: Douglas Stewart, Kristian Clarke


How do you stage manage a dance program? Where can you gain the experience? Where are the dance companies in Canada? The last two hours of this session will include a dancer which will allow the participants to gain first hand knowledge about blocking and calling a dance piece.

Section: Genres
Offered: Genres,

Instructors: Janelle Rainville, Sharon DiGenova (1996 - 2011)

Devised Theatre - Starting from Scratch

When one is creating art, there must be a starting point wherein what you are creating has never been done before.  There are no preconceived notions of your outcome, only the inspiration to begin.  We will attempt to discuss where a Stage Manager fits in when mounting a never before seen nor produced script.  Including new musicals, new collective creations, and new plays."

Section: Genres
Offered: Genres, Toronto 2018,

Instructors: Jennifer Stobart

Firearms Best Practices

A discussion of best practices for firearms and prohibitive devices in the rehearsal hall.  Topics include storage and preparation of firearms, maintenance and an understanding of Canada's firearms law.  A demonstration of firearm use is included.

Section: Advanced Basics
Offered: Advanced Basics,

Instructors: Daniel Levinson

Giving Notes / Prompting

An exploration into the art of giving notes to cast, crew, and production staff. The course will feature actors and a hands-on opportunity to evaluate different situations and challenges when giving notes to performers.  This skill is very important to the well-being of a production and its collaborators, and is often one of the most difficult techniques to be learned as a Stage Manager. The participants will also explore the art of Prompting.

Section: Basic Skills
Offered: Basic Skills, Toronto 2017, Halifax 2018,

Instructors: Janelle Rainville, Darla Biccum (2010 - 2015 / 2017-2018), Sheldon Davis (2010 - 2015 & 2017), Neil Foster (2016 & 2018), Daniela Vlaskalic (2016 & 2018)

How to be a Good Apprentice

The Apprentice Stage Manager position is a chance to learn the job of a Stage Manager and Assistant Stage Manager while working directly on a production, and gain credit towards joining Canadian Actors’ Equity Association.  What can you do to make the most of this learning experience?  What are the expectations of you?  What can you expect of the experience?

Section: Basic Skills
Offered: Basic Skills, Toronto 2017,

Instructors: Arwen MacDonell


What skills can a Stage Manager apply to an Industrial? What is different about working on an industrial? How has audio visual equipment enhanced these presentations? What does the Assistant Stage Manager do? How do you find jobs on Industrials?

Section: Genres
Offered: Genres,

Instructors: Arron Moses

Job Interviews

Do you know how to prepare for an interview? What questions should you ask? For what positions/companies should you apply? Are you qualified?

Section: Your Future
Offered: Your Future,

Instructors: Melanie Klodt Wong, Jeff Cummings (2016), Genevieve Farrell (2014), Janelle Rainville (2010 - 2014), Winston Morgan (1996-2012)

Joining Equity

An introduction to Canadian Actors' Equity Association, including when and how to join the Association. We will examine the process of obtaining apprenticeship credits and engagement permits. We will also look at membership benefits and discuss the pros and cons of joining Equity.  

** Bring your resume to share/review with the group and to see if any work experience is eligible for retroactive credit.** 

This course takes place at the Equity offices and will include a tour of the facilities.

Section: Your Future
Offered: Your Future, Toronto 2017,

Instructors: Lynn McQueen

Masterclass - Opera Stage Management

The first day will start with a 4-hour class with Canadian Opera Company’s Stage Manager, Lil Stilwell. That evening,  participants will watch a performance of an opera. Two days later, there will be a backstage tour of the theatre led by the Assistant Stage Managers. That evening, participants will watch the performance from the broadcast booth while listening to the show being called on headset. The evening will be capped off by a 1/2 hour Q&A session with the Stage Management team.

Cost:   $120 (includes $25 ticket for the May 18th performance)

Part 1

Class: 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts,
Stage Door (northwest corner of Richmond & York)

Show: 7:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
145 Queen Street West

Part 2 

Tour: 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Show: 2:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Q & A: 4:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
145 Queen Street West

Section: Masterclass
Offered: Masterclass,

Instructors: Lil Stilwell

Networking 101

Back by popular demand!  Our popular networking workshop with Jeanne LeSage has been expanded to a full course, including frameworks to set career goals, and tangible tools to help Stage Managers master the dreaded ‘networking’. 

Section: Your Future
Offered: Your Future, Toronto 2018,

Instructors: Jeanne LeSage

Notation / Forms / Prep Week

Are you curious to see how other Stage Managers set up a prompt script? Ever wanted to explore different ways of taking blocking notation? This course covers many ways Stage Managers can organize, document and communicate information. The session includes an overview of the many tasks and duties required of stage management during Prep Week as well as a variety of paperwork samples to add to your repertoire!

Section: Basic Skills
Offered: Basic Skills, Toronto 2017,

Instructors: Sarah Miller (2017 - present), Janelle Rainville (On the Road, Toronto 2014 & 2015), Merissa Tordjman (Montreal & Toronto 2012 & 2016), Maria Costa (2004 - 2011)

Principles of Fight Direction: From real falls to pitfalls

Through full body engagement in the craft of stage fighting, participants will learn the basics of safety, communication and consent, some established techniques, and employing those principles,  be invited to participate as creators in the art form.

Stage violence principles such as extension, distance, long and low planes, action /reaction, and visual storytelling will be explored.  Participants will be paired up to rehearse a fight in the Neptune show In a World Created by a Drunken God opening the week after the course.

Karen will discuss best practices she has developed to work with actors, notate a fight, and keep the fight safe and dynamic from planning to performance, and how to eyeball a fight for safety.


  • Come dressed to move with athletic footwear. There will be work on the floor so anticipate your clothes and hair getting a little dirty.
  • No jewelry.
  • No visible undergarments.
  • Wear a breast restricting bra/sports bra.
  • Have an elastic to tie back long hair.
  • Water, snack for the midpoint break.

Section: Advanced Basics
Offered: Advanced Basics, Halifax 2018,

Instructors: Karen Bassett

Reading Music

Whether you have a background of musical training or not, this course is a quick guide to following a musical score, and integrating cues for the Stage Manager.  The ability to follow a musical score is an important skill with many applications in dance, musical theatre and opera.

Section: Basic Skills
Offered: Basic Skills, Toronto 2017, Halifax 2018,

Instructors: Jeff Morris (2014 - present), Bonni Baynton (Calgary), Susan Monis (1996-2012), June Zinck (Halifax)

Reading plans / Taping a Floor

A guide for Stage Managers to interpret ground plans and scale drawings of scenery and stages. Tips on the use of a scale ruler to translate drawings into an accurately marked floor for rehearsals, what questions you should be asking the production team, as well as a discussion of how best to orient a rehearsal space.  There is a practical component, so please bring a 25' to 50' tape measure and an Architect's (imperial) scale ruler if you own them.


Section: Basic Skills
Offered: Basic Skills, Toronto 2017, Halifax 2018,

Instructors: Paul Fujimoto-Pihl (2018), Alexis Buset (2011 - 2017), Dave Surette (Montreal), Jeff Scollon (2008)


What should be in your cover letter and on your resumé? How should your resumé be organized? How does one search for a job? Please submit a copy of your current resumé and sample cover letter to S.M.Arts at least 3 days prior to the class.

Section: Your Future
Offered: Your Future, Toronto 2018,

Instructors: Ray Salverda (2014 - present), Pat Bradley (1997 - 2012), Chuck Childs (Montreal)

Scheduling and Planning

A discussion and practical application of how production elements affect day-to-day and week-to-week scheduling and planning from Prep Week through Opening. What are the myriad of considerations to prioritize when devising a rehearsal schedule and a production schedule?

Section: Basic Skills
Offered: Basic Skills, Toronto 2016, Halifax 2018,

Instructors: Janelle Rainville (2014 - present), Andrew North (Calgary), Winston Morgan (1996 - 2012)

Stage Managing Intimacy

This is a practical approach to staging scenes of intimacy in performance using core principles of storytelling, choreography and consent. In this workshop, we will help you answer the questions of "when does my production need an intimacy director?”, “what does intimacy directing look like?”, “how does intimacy direction support respectful workspaces (and where do they support each other)”, and "what are my responsibilities to the production when intimacy is involved?".

Section: Advanced Basics
Offered: Advanced Basics,

Instructors: Siobhan Richardson

Stuck in the Middle - Harassment & Bullying

“Would I / Could I have done anything differently?”

While there have been a number of worthy efforts and movements in the sector for an official response to the current urgent issue surrounding Workplace Harassment - S.M.Arts  (Stage Managing the Arts) wants to host an evening JUST for stage managers - and provide an opportunity to come together to share, dialogue, and perhaps even brainstorm about what specific tools and resources can help you.

We realize stage managers are often ‘stuck in the middle’ - you are not management, but you are often the go-to person in the room to deal with issues on behalf of performers and stage management.  But do you have the tools and information to respond?

We want to offer a safe space for stage managers (Equity and non-Equity) to discuss the effects of harassment and bullying in the rehearsal hall and our experiences of walking the tightrope between management and artistry.

We have no agenda for this evening – just an urge to bring our community together to talk, share and start the healing process and the ‘way forward'.  

Our hope is to begin the conversation about the role of stage management as it relates to the NOT IN OUR SPACE campaign and creating viable and sustainable working models for us as stage managers.  

While we recognize and respect allies and other members of the sector, we ask that this event be reserved JUST for stage managers.

Offered: Halifax 2018,

Theatre for Young Audiences

Explore the intricacies of school touring. Often Stage Managers begin their careers taking a young audience production on the road. What are the challenges and rewards? What is different from stage managing a main stage production?

Section: Genres
Offered: Genres, Toronto 2018, Halifax 2018,

Instructors: Sandi Becker (2018), Heather Landon (2015), Pablo Felices Luna (1998 - 2012), Christine Oakey (Halifax)

Working with QLab

Stage Managers are often required to run the sound or video cues for a show or rehearsal.  The most popular software for this is QLab.  Learn the basics of QLab programming for both sound and video from a designer. 

  ** Participants need to supply their own Mac lap top and will be sent instructions on how to download the free software in order to explore and play in the session.

Section: Departments
Offered: Departments, Toronto 2017,

Instructors: Aaron Collier (Halifax), Beth Kates (Toronto), Ben Chaisson (Toronto)