A wide variety of roles are involved in creating every production we do, in addition to the on stage performers.

Backstage roles

Most shows begin with either a script or a score that is chosen by the committee, for which a DIRECTOR and DESIGNER are chosen. The DIRECTOR then chooses the cast through the audition process. The DESIGNER works closely with the DIRECTOR to create the visual side of the production. Both DIRECTOR and DESIGNER have to work within the budgetary constraints agreed by the committee. A PRODUCTION MANAGER may be appointed to oversee the budget.

Having worked out the best interpretation of the drama with the director, the DESIGNER first builds a model set then supervises its transformation into a full scale set, also supervising any work involved in painting the set, the making of stage properties and the hiring or buying of furniture and personal or hand props to be used by the performers.

The STAGE MANAGER has ultimate authority on stage during a performance and is responsible for ‘running the book’ (typically responsible for calling all the lighting, sound, stage, performer and audience announcement cues via the script / score ), as well as administrating personal props for the performers.

The COSTUME DESIGNER or WARDROBE MISTRESS is responsible for providing costumes which are either made or hired and will work closely with the set designer on co-ordinating the making or hiring of costumes and wigs.

The set will be built by the SET CONSTRUCTION TEAM. As the parts of the set are completed they are painted by a SCENIC ARTIST. Any large properties, such as a tree or a dragon, will also be made by the team.

The lighting and sound for the production is planned by a LIGHTING and SOUND DESIGNER who works closely with the Director and Designer. The SOUND DESIGNER will be responsible for recording sound effects and providing any voice amplification that may be required. There may also be a LIGHTING AND SOUND OPERATOR for each performance. When a musical or pantomime is produced, the services of a MUSICAL DIRECTOR and possibly a CHOREOGRAPHER will also be enlisted.

The cast will rehearse in the rehearsal room for several weeks, and during the later stages of rehearsals costumes are tried on, and props and parts of the set used by the actors are brought into the rehearsal room. Sound effects can also can also be tried out, but the lighting can only be planned on paper until it is possible for the stage to be used. Any time spent rehearsing in the theatre, as there is not a paying audience, is expensive and must therefore be kept to a minimum. This imposes a sense of urgency on activities which take place on stage and proves a taxing time for all concerned. A set must be erected and the lighting equipment hung in position before the scenery changes and lighting levels can be coordinated. All this must be done as quickly as possible, which inevitably leads to long working hours for most of the staff. The responsibility for co-ordinating the activities rests with the PRODUCTION MANAGER who has been overseeing the work of the various departments and making sure they are keeping to a schedule which enables everything to be ready for stage rehearsals. Several days are devoted to rehearsing the show up to technical and dress rehearsals, culminating in public previews.

The First Night! … When the show has had its first night and opened to the public, the involvement of some of the departments is at an end, except for any repairs to sets and properties. Other departments have a continuing role on the running of the show each evening. The Stage Management, who were previously responsible for the rehearsals are now responsible for the control of each evening’s performance. From a position at the side of the stage the STAGE MANAGER gives instructions (cues) to all departments which enables the movement of scenery, control of lighting and sound to be co-ordinated. The scenery is traditionally moved either vertically or horizontally by special equipment operated by a staff of STAGE TECHNICIANS who are under the immediate supervision of the STAGE MANAGER. The Wardrobe Department is now responsible for the cleaning and repairing of the costumes and the WARDROBE SUPERVISOR may need to employ DRESSERS to help the artists into their costumes when making quick changes.