California Q's - Stagehands/Crew in Performances

We asked members about stagehands and crew in performances. Find out what your fellow California Community Theatres had to say. Survey results are from Winter 2018.

Whether your are an actor, an administrator, or a director (or all of the above), do you believe stagehands or crew to perform scene changes are a continuing practice in general in community theatre?

IN GENERAL, do you find that contemporary scripts are less likely to call for non-cast stagehands or crew to perform scene changes?

As a director or artistic director, do you GENERALLY encourage or discourage the use of non-cast members as stagehands or crew?

How do you identify individuals to work as stagehands or crew to perform scene changes at your community theatre?

I am a member of the Board of Directors, Marketing/Publicity Coordinator and Resident Director for Pinole Players. I look for reliable persons with whom I have worked previously, or who have shown a persistent interest in getting involved. We are lucky to have a city-sponsored summer theater workshop for teens and young adults. Often, we are able to solicit members of our teen company to work on shows backstage. Often, they are able to get extra credit through their local high-school or community college for assisting on shows as backstage crew, light/sound technicians and other support roles for our three annual main stage productions.

It really depends on the script and the set design.

We train internally. Then hire. We pay almost all our stagehands.

We take volunteers and family members of cast, but generally, we no longer use non-cast as stagehands and crew.

I answered "generally discourage" as a director. BUT, it depends on the play and what we are looking to accomplish. I personally like a variety of styles and minimalism in production is a favorite. I don't believe that allowing the audience to witness the changes takes away from the story. I always believe in the adage, "trust your audience". They suspend belief immediately when the story begins anyway. It matters little. We use actors backstage as a matter of course as we often have a lack of personnel. The Producer, A.D., Director or others may also assist. We lack space backstage anyway so often it is a matter of lack of personnel and space.

Physically able, Willing to commit.

We have volunteers who help with each production.

It depends on the production. If we have heavy set pieces then you need someone strong. Some shows have lots of moving parts at once and you need people who can multitask well.

Do you pay or offer a stipend to stagehands or crew to perform scene changes at your community theatre?

Whether your are an actor, an administrator, or a director (or all of the above), do you have any other thoughts or information about the use of stagehands or crew to perform scene changes at your community theatre?

We cannot afford to pay running crew, but for musicals, if the band gets tips, they are split among tech, actors and musicians.

people who are trained properly and paid come back, which brings consistency to our tech.

I feel the less you use non cast for crew, the less crowded the backstage is. Shows tend to flow a bit better as well as the cast is completely focused on the show throughout the entire production since they are also moving sets and helping with costume changes.

No. It depends on the director's choice, availability of people and space.

Vital to the theatre community.

Even if your production doesn't seem like it needs a stagehand I believe it's good to have at least one. You never know what can happen!

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