The crew ensures backdrops, props and music instruments are in place at the right time as well as that each performer looks the part from hair to make-up to wardrobe). That all sound equipment works properly and the audio quality is of a high standard for the audience to enjoy. The crew is responsible for the magic of ambience and enhancing the atmosphere by designing and controlling special effects and lighting schedule (spotlights, scene colours for mood lighting effects, smoke, snow, rain, confetti, fireworks, aerial acts).
The Backstage Crew are hands-on, creative people that work closely with the Director of the show. The Director analyses the show by reading the script and looking at different stage spaces, figuring out how the show can be played out in the space chosen. This involves a lot of research by the crew, which includes knowledge of health and safety as well.
Height, dimensions, power, rigging, lighting capabilities, flooring, walling, aerial usage, pit usage, specific stage regulations, make-up, hair, costumes and audio set-up are just some of the crews’ vocabulary. They are employed to know every nook and cranny of every stage they work in and script they work from. The theatre house or concert arena sometimes employs theatre crews, which they keep in-house, and sometimes the crew is outsourced or brought in by the company hiring it for that show. Either way, they need to be top of their game in order to be relied on for such intricacy required.
Stage life is constantly live. There is no time for live mistakes or missed chances. A massive amount of preparation is made to ensure the live element runs like clockwork. Everyone from the cast to the crew works to a schedule and script. If anyone person is unprepared or unavailable when required, they will most likely be replaced in a heartbeat by someone else more capable and reliable.
The space where everyone works within the stage area (front, above, below, back and in-between) is to be treated with the highest regard. Everyone is taught not to touch, move or talk when not meant to – it’s just the way it is. If this respect falls by the wayside, so does the show.
Once the crew set-up their sound, lighting rig and scene changes schedule – the actors, leading male and female singers, dancers and band are brought in for stage rehearsals. This helps the crew tweak the microphones, adjust the lights and placement timing of props and equipment. The performers and crew become one through this process, and the show begins.
Members of Backstage Crew often work for a crew company that is contracted to superstar musicians and large theatre houses. Some technicians also own hire equipment and rehearsals studios as a sideline business. It is one of the most hard-working jobs in the industry to have and the people talented in these fields are very respected. If you are looking to be the next exceptional sound engineer, lighting wiz or hair and make-up specialist, look in the musicians’ jobs section of any newspaper or online source for stage and film work. Also approach large film and stage production houses directly for openings.