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Every production relies on a small army of people who, although they don't appear on stage, are every bit as important to the success of the production as the cast. They build the set, design the costumes, provide for lights, and make sure the audience finds the show. Without them, the cast would perform naked, in the dark, on a bare floor, in an empty room. They are The Prodstaff.
But who are these black-clad unsung (and unsinging) heros? Read on to find out. If you'd like to join the production staff of an upcoming show, let us know.
Assistant Stage Manager(s)
Scenic Artist/Set Painter
Light Board Operator
The stage manager is present at all performances. He/she communicates remotely with technical crew and calls all cues for lighting and sound effects, as well as coordinating the run crew for any scene changes that may be called for. The stage manager also assists with the production from the start. The stage manager should try be present at every stage rehearsal (and music rehearsal, if possible!). At the beginning of each rehearsal, the stage manager should call the cast to order and phone unexpectedly absent members. During rehearsal, the stage manager should maintain order in the cast and record blocking notes for the stage director. As production week approaches and the cast goes off book, the stage manager provides line cues when necessary.
The stage manager may also deal with discipline problems within the cast, as well as various administrative tasks relating to the cast.
Sometimes the rehearsal stage manager (who is present at rehearsals) is not the same person as the production stage manager (who runs the show).
One or more assistant stage managers can make the task much easier, especially in a show with a large cast. In addition, the job of rehearsal stage manager is sometimes split among several people, which works well as long as they keep in close communication with one another.
The Technical Director (TD) is responsible for making sure that all technical aspects of a show are carried out in a timely fashion. This includes coordinating the set design, lighting and set construction, and handling any technical details needed during performances. Scheduling meetings, set building and put-in are the main tasks. A set and light crew must be recruited; this job may be delegated to the Master Carpenter and Lighting Designer/Master Electrician who will be supervising them, but it is ultimately the TD's responsibility to make sure that adequate manpower exists.
This job can be purely administrative if enough of the labor is delegated to the set and lighting crews, or it can be more hands-on. Once the set is put in and the lights are hung, the TD's job is essentially finished. If there are problems that the Master Carpenter, Lighting Designer, Master Electrician or Key Grip cannot handle, however, the TD must still be available to solve them.
The Set Designer takes a concept drawing or description from the Stage Director and produces a detailed design. He/she must work in close collaboration with the Lighting Designer and Master Carpenter, so that a feasible design is produced. The design must include color choices, but it is not necessary to go into more construction detail than simple elevations and suggested ideas for construction.
The Set Designer should also meet with the director in order to make sure that the design is consistent with the director's artistic concepts and can accomodate any technical needs that the direction may call for (for example if the director needs something for people to hide behind during a certain scene).
The Set Designer sometimes works with a Scenic Artist or Set Painter. In this case, the Scenic Artist would be someone with more interest in choosing colors and painting the scenic elements.
There is often an Assistant Set Designer, who may provide additional skills or expertise, or may be learning the job.
The Master Carpenter turns a completed set design into the actual set pieces needed for a show. He needs to make construction diagrams, based upon existing pieces as much as possible, and needs to coordinate the actual construction.
The Master Carpenter should not only know how to use the materials and tools of the set shop properly and safely, but should expect to teach others, and organize the crew to ensure that everything is built on time.
The Set Crew assists the Master Carpenter in constructing and installing set pieces.
The Lighting Designer develops a lighting plan based on the set design. He is responsible for coordinating the deployment of lighting instruments at put-in as well, along with the Master Electrician.
As with the other technical aspects of the show, the lighting should be designed to be consistent with the direction.
The Master Electrician makes the lighting plan happen. He organizes the light hang crew to get the lights hung from the lighting grid, focused, gelled, and connected to the dimmer board.
The Lighting Crew assists the Master Electrician in installing lighting instruments and cabling.
The Light Board Operator is responsible for controlling the lights during the show. He or she is usually part of the lighting crew who helps the master electrician hang the lights during production week. During performances, he or she takes cues from the stage manager to change the lighting at the right times.
The Costume Designer finds, makes, and/or coordinates costumes for the cast. He/she reports to the Technical Director, but should also communicate well with the director to ensure that the costumes are consistent with his/her concept of the show. Costume designing is a big job involving a lot of work, and the Costume Designer should attempt to get as much help as possible. The Costume Designer may also be called upon to provide makeup assistance.
For some shows, the costume designer may primarily select costumes from our stock, and locating others that can be borrowed or rented from other theater groups around MIT and the community. Usually a few costumes must be built from scratch, but the rest only need to be fitted to the actors. Other times, the costume designer may literally design most of the costumes to be worn on stage, and organize a team to sew them. In this case, it is helpful to have a Master Seamstress (or Stitcher, or Tailor) who manages the majority of the actual construction, and a large team of people to help.
The Costume Crew assists the Master Stitcher/Tailor/Seamstress in building the costumes for the show.
The Makeup Artist is responsible for ensuring that we have the proper makeup for the cast, and that they know how to use it. The Makeup Artist usually implements special makeup effects (such as age or ghosts), while helping teach cast members how to do their own basic makeup.
The Choreographer is responsible for designing dances that may be needed and teaching them to the cast. Most of the dance we use should be fairly simple and easy to learn. The stage director will usually have a vision of what the dance should look like, where it should take place, and so on. The choreographer's responsibility is to make that vision happen on stage.
The Props Manager is responsible for locating anything that will need to be carried by actors on stage. This may include weapons, bottles, luggage, wands, teapots, and anything else the director and cast may come up with. Many props can be found in our own props closet or borrowed from other theater groups or the cast. Sometimes some props will need to be made or built.
The Run Crew performs set changes and other miscellaneous tasks as necessary during the show.
The primary duty of the Orchestra Manager is to recruit players for the orchestra and ensure that all aspects of the show involving the orchestra run smoothly. He/she should work closely with the music director and be aware of the concerns and needs of the orchestra members at all times. The Orchestra Manager is also responsible for scheduling rehearsal accompanists.
The Publicity Manager's job is to advertise the show. This is a process that begins long before opening night. The Publicity Manager must obtain all relevant information from the producer and directors and find a graphic designer for posters and flyers, as well as handle public announcements and mailings. Publicity avenues include, but are not limited to:
Sometimes a graphic designer will work under the publicity manager's direction to design artwork to be used in advertsing the show. The publicity manager should be sure to coordinate with the webmaster and program designer to ensure a consistent look.
The Publicity Crew assists the Publicity Manager in deploying the publicity materials.
The Program Designer is responsible for assembling the program that will be handed to all audience members. He or she must collect information and bios from cast, crew, and orchestra members, manage the sale of program ads, lay out the design of the program, and arrange for it to be copied.
The House Manager handles all aspects of the show relating to the audience. This includes ticket sales, seating issues, and refreshments. The House Manager answers to the Producer and receives reports from the Ticket Manager.
The Ticket Manager ensures that tickets are available to be sold, and coordinates reservations. He or she should coordinate with the webmaster to handle online ticket reservations.
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Last updated: 2005/05/09 17:15 EDT