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A house manager is a customer service professional who runs the front of house operations at a live theater or performance venue. Working as a house manager is a wonderful way for a person with good customer service and organization skills to find a job in the entertainment industry. House manager duties can vary, and may include staff management, customer assistance, box office work, and safety procedures.
There are no set educational requirements for becoming a house manager. It may help to have prior experience working at a live performance venue, such as a box office assistant, usher, or even concession sales worker. Since house managers are often tasked with ensuring patron safety, CPR and first aid certification may sometimes be required. These managers may work on a per-event basis with a particular theater, or may be hired for seasonal work by a theater company or performance venue.
Before the house opens for the performance, the house manager usually consults with the stage manager to find out about any potential hazards or unusual effects used in the show. Following this meeting, the house manager will often brief the rest of the house staff on emergency procedures and general operating protocol. Managers typically will check or have assistants make sure that all customer facilities, such as restrooms, are fully stocked and operational. At a per-determined time, the manager will open the doors to the theater to allow seating to begin.
During the pre-show period, the manager is generally on hand to manage any ticket disputes, seating problems, and other customer issues. He or she may issue announcements about performance delays, expected intermission times, and other important show information. It is usually important to keep in close contact with the stage manager of the performance to co-ordinate the closing of the theater doors before the performance begins.
Once the show starts, the house manager may be in charge of seating late arrivals, or preventing people from entering during certain parts of the show. Any type of emergency, from a patron health issue to an emergency evacuation, is usually managed and reported by the house manager. For insurance purposes, the manager may also need to be able to fill out and file incident reports should an injury, evacuation, or other serious issue occur during the performance.
Following the performance, the house manager may oversee the re-organization and cleaning of the seating area, lobbies, and restrooms. House managers are often one of the last people to leave, as they must lock up the building and ensure that all patrons have exited. This interesting job usually offers some leisure time during performances for other activities, and can be an excellent, though highly demanding, position for a responsible student. People who have a love of theater or live shows may also enjoy this type of job, as it also affords many opportunities to see wonderful shows for free.
House managers need to be willing to say no. I worked in a really small theater for a couple of shows, and there was honestly not room for latecomers, even if they sat on the floor- even if they were guests of the cast. Things like fire codes and actor space are less fun parts of house management, but they need to be followed or the show might literally not go on.
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