True story: I remember working as an assistant stage manager on a show in university, and overhearing the following statement from one of the actresses:
“I don’t know why anyone would want to be an ASM.
They do all the hard work and we get all the glory.”
I kind of wanted to hit that girl.
Crew jobs are often incredibly thankless jobs, and it’s true: if a show is running smoothly, their hard work won’t really be noticed. It’s when something goes wrong that people take notice: “Oh, that light went off at the wrong time” or “Why was the band so loud?” or “There’s a set piece still onstage that shouldn’t be there.”
When you think about it, actors are only a very small part of the final project. Without the techies, the designers, the builders/creators, the stagehands and the front of house crew, there really wouldn’t be a show! (Unless you’re doing a one-person show naked in a public park… but that’s a different kind of show, isn’t it?)
So actors, please be kind to the crew. Help them out. Bring them food, then get out of their way. Remember that their jobs are just as difficult (if not more so) than yours and without them, there would be no show. Heed this advice from my crew theatre pals:
- “Talk to your costumer, your stage manager, your crew. Offer to help make their lives easier, if you can.”
- “Sometimes ‘helping’ means getting out of the way and being quiet!”
- “Keep in touch with your stage manager!”
- “Respect the people running the show (i.e. director, stage manager).”
- “Respect the tech crew. They are part of the performance, not your servants. Don’t throw costumes or prop pieces at them. If you need help with something, ask politely.”
- “If a backstage assistant tells you to be quiet, it’s because you’re being noisy. Stop talking please!”
- “Contrary to what you may think, you don’t know how to light, or place a mic, or etc. You’re not helping. Just read the script and do the talkie talkie while looking good. After that shut your damn mouth.”
- “Definitely make friends with the crew and help out as much as you can! Everyone is an important part of the show–not just the people on stage. Stay humble!”
- “If a crew member asks you to do something (for example, not to take off your mic pack yourself), please follow their directions. They are trying to make you look good out there (and trying to keep you from breaking the very expensive equipment you’re working with).”
- “Safety first! Be sure to listen to the crew — they’re not trying to tell you what to do, they’re trying to keep you safe.”
Thanks to Aimee Adler, Ron Dodson, Tia Morin, Britt Mumford, Marcus Reeves, & Marina Sheppard for their contributions!
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