MFA: Stage Management

Both our traditional Stage Management track and our Stage Management & Production Management track strive to provide a creative and dynamic production environment that sets a high standard in developing communication and technical competency while centering leadership and management as core skills of Stage Managers and Production Managers.

Stage manager working tech rehearsal from tech table.

What to expect-

Two Tracks, One Degree

The MFA Stage Management Program at the University of Illinois provides dedicated theatre artists with the necessary resources and experiences to develop into professional stage managers who are ready to meet the rigors and demands in any genre of live performance.  The curriculum touches on fundamental stage management skills, along with the human-centered practices of our field including Intimacy Direction, Inclusive Leadership, and Health + Well-Being.

Students in the MFA Stage Management-Production Management Focus are part of the Stage Management program with an extra focus in Production Management.  In the last decade, Stage Management has become a pathway to a career in Production Management.  Drawing on the highly developed leadership and communication skills of the stage manager, students following the Production Management Focus track will also gain experience in big picture thinking, long term planning, budgeting and production logistics.  Practical experiences in this track will include both stage management and production management assignments.

Graduates of both of these tracks are flexible, confident, people-oriented managers who are ready to enter the professional world equipped with the skills and industry knowledge essential to a successful career in the arts.

Creating Leaders

The foundations of strong stage management lie in the basics of good leadership. Stage management and production management classes focus on developing skills in problem solving, collaboration and team management while addressing topics specific to the work of the professional stage manager. Course work is designed to challenge students to develop skills in production analysis, writing, presentation and computer proficiency. Classes in design, history and technology round out a vigorous theatre curriculum. In addition, visiting artists from Krannert Center for the Performing Arts often guest lecture which allows students to interact with working production managers, stage managers, company managers, producers, directors and performers in a casual seminar environment. Principles and techniques encountered in the classroom are fully explored through hands-on work as stage managers, assistant stage managers, production managers and assistant production managers during a season of over a dozen main-stage and studio productions.

The Theatre as Laboratory

The performance spaces at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts are the labs for all theatre students. The expansive facilities of Krannert Center offer a unique partnership between the Illinois Theatre, Dance at Illinois, and the School of Music’s Opera and Lyric Theatre Programs. Students gain experience working as stage and production managers in theatre, musical theatre, opera and dance productions – side by side with experienced professionals, seasoned faculty and other talented students. This immersion into the major genres of the performing arts along with the partnership of Krannert Center creates a vibrant educational environment exceptionally suited to training versatile, flexible and well-rounded stage managers.

On the Edge of the Extraordinary

Students also have the opportunity to work as stage managers and production coordinators on a variety of new works produced by Krannert Center, collaborating with cutting-edge artists including The Builders Association, the Bebe Miller Dance Company, Mikel Rouse and Ralph Lemon. Nationally, these artists are redefining theatrical expectation and reinventing traditional storytelling – and Krannert Center is a leader in producing these new voices of contemporary theatre. Stage management students can work in a variety of capacities on these projects, gaining hands-on experience with integrated video, audio and lighting technology as well as being collaborative partners in the creation of new work.

The Next Step . . .

Our alumni have taken the experiences they gained in theatre, musical theatre, opera, dance and event stage management while at the University of Illinois and have gone on to have exciting careers in the performing arts. UIUC Stage Management Alumni can be found working on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in regional theatre, opera and dance companies around the country. Additionally, some have chosen to work in film and television production, live events and at colleges and universities as teachers and production managers. Below is just a sample of where some of our recent alumni can be found:

On Broadway/National Tours: Officer and a Gentleman, The Devil Wears Prada, The Prom, Mean Girls, Betrayal, Peter and the Starcatcher, Annie, On Your Feet, Aladdin, The Audience, Sister Act, Mary Poppins, Wicked, Mamma Mia!, Christmas Story on Tour

Regional Theatre: The Public Theater, Roundabout Theatre Company, Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, Denver Theatre Center, Baltimore Center Stage, First Folio Theatre, Asolo Rep, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Trinity Rep, Paper Mill Playhouse, Creede Repertory Theatre, Great River Shakespeare Festival, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Arkansas Shakespeare Festival, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Theater at Monmouth, Powerhouse Theatre, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, Dorset Theatre Festival, Redline Theatre, Definition Theatre Company, Dallas Children’s Theater, Williamstown Theatre Festival

Opera: Glimmerglass Opera, San Francisco Opera, Cincinnati Opera, The Dallas Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Minnesota Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Piedmont Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Nickel City Opera, Aspen Music Festival, Sarasota Opera, Atlanta Opera, Tri-Cities Opera

Academic Teaching/Staff Positions: Otterbein University, University of Miami, Colorado State University, Brigham Young University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Florida, Mason Gross School of the Arts

Major Dance Companies/Choreographers: Joffrey Ballet, Alonzo Lines Ballet in California, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in NYC, Mikel Rouse, Ralph Lemon, Karole Armitage, Bebe Miller

Theme Parks: The Walt Disney World Resorts, Universal Orlando Resort

For more information contact Professor Cynthia Kocher at


Stage manager working tech rehearsal from tech table.

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