Friday, October 1, 2010

Part one in my series on Community theatre - THE TEAM


There are Five distinct groups of people backstage.

The Performers:
These can be identified by several distinct markings.
They are light of frame, nocturnal of nature, strong in grandiose gestures, and like most in the animal kingdom, the male is gaudier in decoration. They are the focal point of each theatre, yet most are unaware of how their surrounds actually work.
They form strong attachments on immediate contact yet will forget people’s names within 5 minutes of leaving them. Consistency is important in their support crew as they are prone to panic and flap at the slightest changes.

There are four categories; Singer –dancers, singer-actors, actor dancers, and actors with no other talent. The latter is the most rare as their careers are often culled in infancy.

The Directors/choreographers / production team:
Like most predators these species are designed for stealth, they speak in hushed voices in the corridors, using cunning to catch their prey and ensnare them in the production. They use the power of words and reputation to lure a team of unsuspecting artists into their trap. The stalk the wings, glaring at any who dare slight the production or hinder its course. It is not until a team is in the trap that they raise their voices and begin to take charge.

The Technical team:
The grubby underbelly of the theatre. They wear all black and fight to camouflage with the surrounds.
They are the working class of the theatre, arriving hours before the show, and the last to lock up.
If you want to know where something is, how something works, or when things are happening, find someone in full blacks.
If you need something – anything; they can find it, make it, or steal it for you.
If they feel like it.

“The artists” Hair and makeup:
Often flamboyant and even more often out of their depth; these staff are often brought in from other areas such as film and television, or hair and makeup study centres.
Like beautiful trained pets; they are willing to please and keen to try anything, they are the talent of the tech team, but need reassurance and clear communication to avoid startling them.
Their plumage tends to be outlandish and fantastic, and they constantly smoke.

The groupies:
These people tend to be previous members of the performer community but are no longer performing.
Unwilling to wear black or get dirty, and unskilled in direction or art forms they generally hang around with a clip board fulfilling the “bad-guy” side of the “good-guy-bad-guy” team of the key members (director, producer etc).
Not particularly useful, they do strike fear into the hearts of all, and are good for ensuring fees are paid, the dishes are done, and the cupboards are stocked.

As with any species there is overlap. Isn’t a Mule a combination of a donkey and a horse?

The Mules:
In small towns or community theatres, many of the team are mules and will combine aspects of different team members.
They are generally as stubborn and loud as their name sakes.
An example would be I, a mule with a background of performing, lighting, sound, props, painting, backstage crew and makeup experience.
I wear black, know where everything is, boss people around, are generally smug about my knowledge, can convert to bright clothes and grandiose gestures at the end of the season, or in mating season. I always have a torch, safety pins, hat pins, sticking plaster and duct tape on my belt and can be called on to belt a tune in the Pitt if needed.

I take great delight in winding up and loving every member in the above team and am grateful to call them my Stage family.
Thanks gang.
And Break A Leg!

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