CMU School of Drama

Friday, April 21, 2017

Unseen workers make stage magic happen

www.postcrescent.com: There is a world in entertainment many never get a chance to see. Behind the performers and scenery are hardworking people that are integral to providing us with a quality show, often invisible to those in the audience. Everything from makeup, costumes, hair, sound, sets and lights, stagehands make the magic happen.

11 comments:

Annie Scheuermann said...

This article was very informative, just not what I thought it was going to be. This seems like a good resource for a research paper based on crew jobs. It has a basic overview of the different people needed to put on a show, especially a traveling show. I think the title is most interesting part of the article, the idea that those behind the scenes make everything happen. Stage hands are the ones that coordinate every piece backstage so that what happens onstage happens at the right time and in the right place. Often I think its easy to realize how important crew is for big fantastical shows, like at Disney or Cirque, but on the smaller one act plays it is still the same. One of my favorite things about working backstage is saying to people that come to see a show - they should not expect to see me onstage, and if they do then they know something is very wrong. Crew is not meant to be seen, it is part of the magic of theater.

Mark Ivachtchenko said...

I started doing theater in high school and I was one of the ones who pulled the crime of never paying attention to the crew backstage and thinking theater comprised of only cast members. However, being a techie has been huge cause there's so much more to theater than most of the world sees from the outside. Even though it's done right when the crew isn't seen, I wish people'd "see" the crew. Whenever people like us say we doing theater, it's automatically assumed that we're actors and even though most articles in big newspapers are about the production and cast side of theater, I'm glad SOMEONE out there is writing articles like this about the crew. Finally, as much as techies and stagehands complain that they're there all day working but the main talent comes for a quarter of the time and gets paid more, I'm glad we have strong unions that protect our rights and acknowledge us as artists. Overall, this article is short, sweet, and another one like it probably isn't going to be written for a while.

Vanessa Ramon said...

Either this writer doesn't know much about theater or they are trying to educate totally oblivious people in a very small word count. Either way, I think that this article is a little all over the place. While it gives some basic helpful information about some jobs that happen backstage, it does so in a very unorganized way by only naming certain jobs that don't seem to be related to each other. When you read further into the article about each of the specific jobs, it gets even more obvious that this author was teaching themselves along side trying to write this article. For example, the article states that the carpenters " They also are responsible for moving scenery on stage during a show." That is just straight up wrong. While I appreciate that they are trying to share more appreciation for more than just the things you see onstage, it kinda sucks that they couldn't get someone with an actual appreciation for what they do.

Is this harsh? Am I reading too much into this article? Oh well that's what I thought.

Zak Biggins said...

I have always said there is no such thing as the magic of theatre, rather there are technicians. My opinion of theatre can best be expressed by Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. In the song Finishing the Hat, George sings the iconic lyrics, “Finishing a hat...Starting on a hat...Finishing a Hat.” Throughout the song George talks about how he disregards what is occurring in the world around him and focuses on the most important thing to him, his art. Day after day, George Seurat (on whom the show is based), spends his time working in a park, in France, on a his three year project, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte, one of the world’s most famous paintings done in the art form pointillism. Even when George works on something as minuscule as a hat, he completes it with flawless execution.In my world, this “hat” can be compared to a backing flat, a part of the set that doesn’t immediately catch the eye, but when it does, it astonishes audience members with its attention to detail.
As an artist, i strive to create work im proud of. Everyday I spend hours in my “park”, a theater or a scene shop. Through my work in theatre, I escape the world around me just as George Seurat did, and create something truly incredible; a new world in which audience members are able to live in for two hours or so with an intermission. This is my source of great pride and accomplishment. This is possible because of technicians like us

Sarah Battaglia said...

I feel like I have been reading these kinds of articles every day since I started to work in tech theater. My parents send them to me, my aunt does, basically anyone who knows what I do does because they want to show me that someone has recognized what it is what I, and my peers do. The problem with these articles is that the people writing them either don't understand what it is we do, and just think that they do, or they are so obsessed with dumbing it down so that a reader will understand that they take all of the real stuff out of it, and they turn it into these weird convoluted metaphors that don't make any sense. This article had a lot of those. I appreciate that people are trying to talk about what it is what we do, but it's sort of like butting salt on the wound that these articles are so poorly written and such a mess.

Antonio Ferron said...

I'm so confused by this article. Mostly confused about the overall purpose of why it was written. It could be to inform people about what technicians do, but there is very little useful and/factual information in the article. And if the author was attempting to show appreciation for technicians, he did a poor job at that as well. If you look at the information he presented most of it was pretty straight-forward. I know as somebody who has done theatre for years I may not realize how little those outside of this industry about it, but I do think he could've elevated this article with more useful information. Plus, a few of the things he said weren't even explained well or were inaccurate, like riggers tying things to the ceiling and carpenters moving scenery during the show.i understand he's trying to give his readers some insight into what we do, but he could at least know about more himself first.

William N. Lowe said...

When thinking of the load-in of the show, wardrobe assistants do not usually come to mind for me. From the way this article is structured, it seems to portray that wardrobe assistants are local IATSE crew who assist on the show in each city. I would be interested in hearing if this is in fact true. I would feel like everyone involved would want only a road crew of wardrobe assistants, unless the IATSE crew only assisted with load in, load out, and moving costumes around the space which is unfamiliar to the road crew. Otherwise from that it doesn’t make much sense. Costumes, hair, and make-up on these larger shows are incredibly complex and I can only imagine how difficult it would be to learn for a small local run. In addition, I would feel like all of the actors would feel better knowing their wardrobe person and having them the whole run.

Julien Sat-Vollhardt said...

Run crew is arguably the most important part of a show. Without run crew nothing happens. without run through there is no show. This may seem intuitive to you and me m, by the mechanics and production of a show are all carefully manufactured so that the audience doesn't have to know there is anybody else but the performers on stage. When a show is put on, whether it be a play or concert or whatever. An enormous amount of effort goes into hiding the fact that there are any humans involved with the production except for the performers. The desired effect is that all of he scenery and lights jus tone day materialized into existence, and a performance was added. Obviously I'm exaggerating, but as always with run crew, they make the show happen, with none of the applause. And I'm not saying that that's tragic or anything. After all, that's what they signed up for, it's hair funny to think of all that power we have over a show.

Ali Whyte said...

This article is not at all what I thought it was going to be, but I definitely enjoyed it nonetheless. Only very recently have I come to know how the whole touring thing works. I always figured it was a massive thing, but learning exactly what goes into making a show portable is mind blowing. I especially liked how they listed a few areas that their local stagehands will specialize in and the short descriptions that they provided. I also really like how lighting technician is being used in conjunction with electrician, as they are not actually certified electricians and the name can occasionally be confusing. That being said, I'm not quite sure as to the purpose of this article. It almost seems as though it is written as a way tog et shows to come through a certain location, but I'm not sure how an article would help with that.

John Yoerger said...

This article is kind of pointless to anyone who has ever done at least a single theatre show. The only people who don't know what the article talks about are people who have never stepped foot in a theatre. And thus, I found the article to be entirely pointless. And even so, I think there is popular culture that talks about "techies" in TV Shows and Movies, etc. so it is pretty hard to not be aware of the general idea behind it. I don't know any adults that still think that shit just happens on its own. The only think I think that is really discussed here that anyone might necessarily not have any idea of is rigging. Because rigging is pretty much the more complicated stuff that only the old guy technical director at your community theatre handles and nobody else thinks about it. And he certainly isn't teaching anyone about it either. Other than that, I think it is fairly obvious someone has to do the sound and the lights and move the set pieces and help get the costumes on the actors... Right?

Emily Lawrence said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this article, even though I have read many like them. Whenever I tell people that I am going to the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, I typically get the question “Oh are you going there for acting?”. I then have to explain that I am going for design and production, then have to explain what exactly that means. I would love to be able to give people who ask me that this article so that they understand what some of the jobs would be. Many people who go to see theatre who do not do theatre forget about, or do not even think about, the amount of work and people it takes to put up a well-done production. Heck, even if the production is not good it still takes a whole village to do one unless it is a one man show. This article would be very informative for people who have no experience in theatre or are just beginning to start out so they can understand the full scope of what is occurring.