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Working In A Theatre


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#21 Guest_old techie_*

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 08:42 PM

QUOTE(Matthew Winn @ May 28 2009, 05:06 AM) View Post
I love the technical side of theatre, and have ever since I worked an incredibly ancient lighting board when I was at school. Programming? Ha! I had two sets of sliders under my fingers and had to set every scene on the fly, and I loved it.
I think that's true for acting, but for most technical jobs there's a bit more responsibility than a trained monkey could handle. A large ape, perhaps.

Actually, although it's hardly difficult work it's still very responsible work. Electricity, carbon dioxide, explosives, firearms and heavy scenery all have potential to kill or maim and if you don't know what you're doing they can easily do so. The laws of physics won't be denied. Although I have to admit it is great fun watching someone try to pick up a lump of dry ice in bare fingers.



At a guess, Mr Winn is an LX - I am not.  If he had ever done the same stage plot on a big crap musical for months or even years; he would be pressed to find the 'responsibility'.  When you do the same thing at the same time every show (that includes passing the same person on the stairs at the same time....etc) it's certainly feels like a trained monkey (or groundhog) job.  Believe me, when I was much younger I did exactly that.

Back to you, Mr Winn...


#22 Matthew Winn

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 10:56 PM

QUOTE(old techie @ Jun 1 2009, 09:42 PM) View Post
At a guess, Mr Winn is an LX - I am not.

Neither am I.

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If he had ever done the same stage plot on a big crap musical for months or even years; he would be pressed to find the 'responsibility'.

I've never done a long run, but that's beside the point. On the technical side of theatre there are many ways to kill or injure someone through carelessness or inattention. If you think there's no responsibility in handling pyros, using dry ice or lowering a ton of set on to a stage while action continues underneath you then you're a danger to everyone around you. Something doesn't become less dangerous simply because you've done it hundreds of times.

God help anyone you work with if you think there's no responsibility in technical work.
I have always hated eggs. I remember back when I was a sperm I tried to head-butt one. It did not end well.

#23 Guest_old techie_*

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 03:14 PM

QUOTE(Matthew Winn @ Jun 1 2009, 10:56 PM) View Post
Neither am I.
I've never done a long run, but that's beside the point. On the technical side of theatre there are many ways to kill or injure someone through carelessness or inattention. If you think there's no responsibility in handling pyros, using dry ice or lowering a ton of set on to a stage while action continues underneath you then you're a danger to everyone around you. Something doesn't become less dangerous simply because you've done it hundreds of times.

God help anyone you work with if you think there's no responsibility in technical work.


Show staff are always supervised by residents.  HSaWA License/insurance requirement etc etc.....

Long running shows have highly evolved and established practices.  I don't do those kind of shows anymore (thank god) and I am more than aware that shorter run theatre has very different practices and level of skill involved.  As an HoD, I have the H&S of my department and all on stage as a very high priority.  (RIDDOR is just paperwork I don't need...)

I was simply trying to make the point that for all those starry-eyed youngsters looking for FoH work, they may wish to consider that a showman job on a long-runner is not beyond them (and the pay's better).

As for your final sentence,  I speak as someone with decades in the West End on productions large and small.  Show staff do not have to be anymore 'qualified' than, say, Showforce or Gallowglass (the latter being not at all bad).  Many moons ago I was a very green showman who didn't his PS from OP... I didn't hurt anyone.

God help those who comment on the working practices of long-runners without having ever been there...

PS As for the lowering of a ton of set (quite light for some shows), it's the DSM's call - is it not?  How many flyfloors have a good line of sight to the stage?

#24 Matthew Winn

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 10:16 PM

QUOTE(old techie @ Jun 3 2009, 04:14 PM) View Post
I was simply trying to make the point that for all those starry-eyed youngsters looking for FoH work, they may wish to consider that a showman job on a long-runner is not beyond them (and the pay's better).

Ah, I see. Yes, it's not necessary to train for years to pull a rope or push a truck. But just because a job is easy doesn't mean it's not a responsible position.

QUOTE
PS As for the lowering of a ton of set (quite light for some shows), it's the DSM's call - is it not?  How many flyfloors have a good line of sight to the stage?

Even following cues is a level of responsibility when the consequences of a mistake could be fatal. That's the point I'm trying to make: it doesn't matter how many times you've done something, if you screw up you can kill someone.

A few years ago I saw a show where one of the cast regularly turned up almost too drunk to stand. The audience could hear her walking into things backstage, but it wasn't until she actually passed out in front of the audience that she was sacked. Why wait? Because there's no responsibility in acting: it simply didn't matter that she was falling-down drunk. But someone in the crew who turns up too drunk to react on cue or to look out for potential disasters and take avoiding action should be sacked on the spot.

[Edited at 06:00, 4th June]
I have always hated eggs. I remember back when I was a sperm I tried to head-butt one. It did not end well.

#25 THEATREADDICT

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 02:31 AM

QUOTE(xXAngelofMusicXx @ Aug 30 2007, 02:12 AM) View Post
I want to get a job in a theatre, i dont mind that it would probably be volunteer work, behind the scenes, as an usher, whatever. I think the experiance as id like to work in musical theatre when im older would be good for me. But im only 14 - is there any likeliness a theatre would take me? And if there is, how should i apply/convince them?

Thanks for the help smile.gif


hi there, I came across your posting and wondered whether you may still be looking for work now that you're a bit older.  I wanted to respond to you and post my comment for others in your situation after reading some of the responses which you received, where were to be fair, slightly discouraging for someone of your age.

While it is true that front of house staff do need to be 18 because they are often required to sell alcohol or act as an usher for people who are consuming alcohol in the auditorium. You have to realise that this is not the only way to get work in a Theatre or get involved in the production side of things.

Firstly www.getintotheatre.org is a great website which has excellent information about various schemes particularly aimed at those from 14 years and upwards which allow you to gain practical experience in various aspects of performance, be it directing/writing/acting/technical/lighting.  This experience is hugely beneficial to those looking to get into Theatre and are of the correct age to apply.

Also, you should also learn about the Theatres - especially those in London's West End as many of them are owned by chains such as the Ambassador Theatre Group or Delfont Mackintosh.  These groups work from head offices where you only have to be 16 to gain full time/part time employment and they can also be approached for work experience by those who under 16 as part of your schools work experience program.

You can also start browsing sites such as www.tmauk.org where you will find lists of vacancies for internships that you may be able to apply for.  

I currently work in one of London's finest West End Theatres and want to let you know that you just have to push yourself forward.  Don't wait for job ads to appear in the papers, I got mine by writing to every single one of the Theatres and asking for a job.  I got offered two in three days.

Above all, do research, find out about all the different groups who have schemes designed to help you get into theatre.  Get in touch with them all and put yourself out there.  Don't think you have to take a job in another industry until you're old enough, follow your passion while you're young and full of enthusiam, there will always be opportunities you just have to go looking for them.  Don't listen to all that humdrum on here...

Best of Luck and enjoy working in Theatre Land.  Despite some of the comments on this page, West End Theatre is a sacred part of London history and is known for some of the finest works spoken in the English language.  While the pay will never be great and the hours anti-social, the rewards are spectacular and I'm sure you will absolutely love it.  

Go for it buddy.

#26 henleytaff

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 08:33 PM

QUOTE(old techie @ May 27 2009, 07:52 PM) View Post
Rear of House is where the shows actually happen.  I am surprised how very few people here really want to get in the thick of it.  Wouldn't you like to see your favourite turn/director etc have a big queenie fit?  See the accidents, disasters and near misses?

Most showman jobs ain't rocket science - doing the same plot for months is really a trained monkey job.  And college training is not required - buying a tactical pint is a better option.

Come on - see real raw theatre, not the neat version the punters (and FoH) get...

You can send me a CV...if you can find me...

Love you all

Old Techie


Hey old techie,  I'm looking to get into working as crew on west end/tours, could you give me some advice...?  I've been involved with amatuer theatre (SM,ASM,Crew,Props,Set build,Lighting,Acting) for as long as I can remember (i'm now 35) and want a change of direction in my oh so dull life.

Any hints?




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