When you go to a play, the opera, the ballet, or even a concert you notice the people on the stage performing. You may also notice the lighting effects, audio effects, costuming, makeup, and the set the performers are on. All of these things are part of the world of Technical theatre.
Technical theatre encompasses all that goes into making a staged production. The areas of technical theatre are scenery,lighting, properties,costuming,and sound. All of these areas work together in a production to establish the place, time period, and mood of the production. If successful the audience will not even notice many of the technical elements of the show. Instead they will come away having enjoyed the show. However, if one of the areas is incomplete or of a lesser quality than the rest the entire production can suffer. Each area relies on the others for support so it is important that everyone works together and communicates as a team; if the lighting designer uses blue light in their design and the costume designer creates a yellow dress, the audience will see an ugly green dress. Technical theatre therefore depends on teamwork and cross-communication for success.
People in Technical Theatre
To put on a play it takes many people, doing many different jobs. Working together as a team the result can be very impressive. Each production organization is laid out differently, but most have people filling these roles.
The Stage Director is the person responsible for the artistic vision, the meaning and thusly the purpose of presenting the production. While not a technical position, the Stage Director is still important in technical production in that he/she coordinates the artistic efforts of the different designers and actors into one unified vision. The Production Manager works with the Stage Director and the various designers, coordinating all the various design elements,making sure the different designs are carried out as best as possible. This person coordinates the efforts of the different departments, and making certain the production maintins its production schedule and remains within the budget. The Technical Director (or TD) works with the Scene designer and Properties designer, supervises the master carpenter and oversees the construction of the set. The TD frequently (in smaller organizations) may also take on other functions, such as supervising the set and props crews.
The Designers are the people that make the artistic decisions in their respective areas. The Scene Designer designs the sets for the different scenes. The Lighting Designer designs how the playing area and the actors will be lit. The Properties Designer obtains and sometime even creates the hand props held by the actors and props used on the stage. The Costume Designerdesigns the clothes that the people will wear, often designing or working closely with the designers of the hair and makeup as well. The Sound Designer chooses or makes the different sound effects that will play during the show, as well as determining who gets microphones, and how much amplification will be necessary.
The crew heads are responsible for coordinating the efforts of the different crews of stagehands working under them in the implementation of the designers' work. The Master Carpenter directs the construction of the set. He/she may also coordinate the people that move the set during scene changes. The Scenic Charge is the person that oversees the painting of the set. The Master Electrician makes sure that the lighting instruments get placed where the designer needs them. They also oversee the people operating the lighting control board and any follow spots. The Audio Engineer oversees the layout of the sound system; during the show they will oversee the operator of the sound boards and make sure any microphones and other sound equipment is working. The Properties (or props) Master will gather the items that the actors will handle during the performance. Under direction of either the scenic designer they may also in charge of "set dressings" such as tables and chairs that the actors will interact with. The Costumer will coordinate the making of the costumes and the fitting them on the performers.
The stagehands are the people that do the labor. These people are divided into several crews. The carpenters build the set, and move set pieces during the show. The painters paint the set the colors the designer specified. The electricians put the lights in the correct place, run the cables to power them, and operate the control board and any followspots. The audio crew will place speakers and microphones as well as run the cables to power them. In addition, they will operate the sound mixers. The wardrobe mistress supervises the stitchers and drapers who sew and mend and clean the costumes, and the dressers who help the actors get into them. The props crew will make sure the items the actors need are where they are supposed to be, and repair them if they get broken.