Creative People: Sunita Hinduja
We speak to Stage Manager Sunita Hinduja about her career in West End theatre.
How did you get to be a Company Stage Manager?
I did a BA (hons) in Stage Management and Theatre Production at QMUC in Edinburgh. After graduating, I was mostly an Assistant Stage Manager or Deputy Stage Manager in Scotland. I was lucky enough to work my way up to being a Company Stage Manager with the National Theatre of Scotland. This experience made my transition to London theatre and the West End an easy one.
What do you do on a day to day basis?
A Company Stage Manager is really two jobs joined together. As Company Manager, I look after the cast and crew’s wellbeing on a production. My day could include booking physio, doctors or dentist appointments.
I’m the contact if someone’s going to miss a performance. It’s then down to me to tell all the relevant people to make sure the show still happens that evening. I also work with excellent heads of department, who in turn manage their teams to make sure the show is always as good as it can be.
The stage manager part of my role includes working with the design team to source props and furniture. I also run rehearsals, manage a budget and share information that comes out of rehearsals to any of the creative and production team not in the room. In the theatre, I’m responsible for the day to day running of the show. I make sure the performance gets from start to finish safely and the vision of the director and design team happens. I let staff who can’t be there know how it’s all going.
What’s the best bit about your job?
Without a doubt the best bit about my job is the people I get to meet. All different shapes, sizes, colours and personalities. All with a shared passion: making a show.
What’s the worst bit about your job?
The long hours! During the teach period, I can spend 12-14 hours a day standing in the dark. It’s tough. Explaining this to your nearest and dearest if they don’t work in the industry is hard - and can make the work-life balance tricky.
The thing that people don’t really know…
Stage Managers are incredibly creative souls.
How could I do what you do?
You could do a degree like mine. But academic qualifications are a bonus, not a must. I know plenty of people who’ve done a Stage Management internships at a theatre like The Royal Court, Young Vic or Donmar Warehouse. Nothing beats practical experience.
Personally, I slightly tripped into working backstage. Once I discovered there was potential for a long career, I made a list of theatres where I’d seen shows I enjoyed. I promised myself I would work at those places. I’m almost through my list!
Above all, you need to be patient and organised. And very good with people. It’s your interpersonal skills that will get you to where you need to be.
What would you say to someone wanting to get into your line of work?
Never let anyone tell you it isn’t possible to make a career out of stage managing. And always be kind to everyone you meet along the way
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