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Production Organization and Stage Management

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Meg Thompson

on 9 January 2017

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Transcript of Production Organization and Stage Management

Production Organization and Stage Management
1. To understand the specific duties of the director and the producer.
2. To understand the role of other members of the production team.

The Technical Director has the daily responsibility for the technical operations of a theatre or performing arts center, including lighting, sound, set design and construction, and coordinating necessary maintenance.
The Technical Director (TD) works with a great deal of independence and exercises independent judgment in performing a wide variety of duties.

Technical Director
is defined as: a person who finds
for a play,
, and
oversees the day-to day business activities
In addition to appreciating the director's role, recognize the roles of theatrical management.
The key theatre management role is that of a producer. Most high school drama groups do not have a producer, but they are very common in legitimate theatre.
The producer finds the people who are willing to invest money in the show and creates a budget. The producer also hires the director and staff who will work on the production. In many high schools the producer is also the director.

It is the responsibility of the director to create a cohesive group that will work together to accomplish a successful dramatic presentation.
is defined as: a person who
interprets a play
, and helps
actors create
A director's responsibilities
To the playwright: understanding and appreciation of the author's intent.
To the script: respect for it's artistic integrity; sensitivity to the historical and cultural context.
To the actors: understanding and careful interpretation of the characters; leadership to keep the cast working effectively.
To the designers/ technical director: clear communication of concepts and respect for ideas.
To the technicians: clear communication; efficient use of rehearsal time.
To the audience: Commitment to providing a worthwhile performance experience.
The dramaturg is defined as a person who performs a variety of tasks to assist with the production of a play, such as script evaluation and historical research.
Many schools do not use dramaturgs. For those that do, the dramaturg is often a history teacher. He or she generally prepares a presentation for the cast and crew about the playwright, the time period, and the issues the play deals with.
A good dramaturg functions as a third set of eyes for the playwright and the director.
The Dramaturg
Lighting designers know how to make the best use of the subtle and powerful medium of light, creating effects that can be changed at will to match the mood of the action.
At its most basic, stage lighting functions to make the actors and their environs visible to the audience. But it can also be used to:
Evoke the appropriate mood
Indicate time of day and location
Shift emphasis from one stage area to another
Reinforce the style of the production
Make objects on stage appear flat or three dimensional
Blend the visual elements on stage into a unified whole
The lighting designer begins by reading the script to be produced noting the type of light it calls for in each scene. Designer and director share their ideas about how light could be used to enhance the production concept at their first meeting. Early meetings with the set designer are also important because the set and lighting designers must collaborate on how to achieve the desired "look" for the play. The plan for the set may influence the placement and direction of the necessary lighting instruments, so flagging any potential problems in this area as early as possible makes sense.
Lighting designers attend rehearsals to get a feel for the lighting cues and to plan how to light the actors as they move from place to place on stage. When the blocking is set, the lighting designer can start to work out which lighting instruments will be used and where each one will be located.
Lighting Designer
Costume designers create the look of each character by designing clothes and accessories the actors will wear in performance. Depending on their style and complexity, costumes may be made, bought, revamped out of existing stock or rented.
The shapes, colors and textures that a costume designer chooses make an immediate and powerful visual statement to the audience. Creative collaboration among the costume designer, the director and the set and lighting designers ensures that the costumes are smoothly integrated into the production as a whole.
Stage costumes can provide audiences with information about a character's occupation, social status, gender, age, sense of style and tendencies towards conformity or individualism.
Costume designs also need to include any accessories such as canes, hats, gloves, shoes, jewelry or masks. These costume props add a great deal of visual interest to the overall costume design. They are often the items that truly distinguish one character from another.
Costume designers begin their work by reading the script to be produced. If the production is set in a specific historical era, the fashions of this period will need to be researched. To stimulate the flow of ideas at the first meeting with the director and the design team (set, costume, lighting and sound designers), the costume designer may want to present a few rough costume sketches. This is also an appropriate time to check with the director on the exact number of characters needing costumes, as any non-speaking characters the director plans to include may not have been listed in the script.
It is the costume designer's responsibility to draw up the costume plot. The costume plot is a list or chart that shows which characters appear in each scene, what they are wearing and their overall movement throughout the play. This helps track the specific costume needs of every character. It can also identify any potential costume challenges, such as very quick changes between scenes.
When the director and production team have approved the costume designer's preliminary sketches, she or he can draw up the final costume designs. The final designs are done in full color. They show the style, silhouette, textures, accessories and unique features of each costume.
Once the show opens, the designer's work is essentially complete. Now it's normally the job of a wardrobe assistant to make sure that every aspect of the production runs just as the designer intended, time after time, until the production closes.
Costume Designer
The Stage Manager
The sound designer plans and provides the sound effects in the play, including music from existing sources. In addition, a composer may write original music for the show. All the music and/or effects in a play considered as a whole make up the "soundscape."
In addition to the sounds of the words spoken by the actors, a play may also call for sound effects to recreate lifelike noises or use music or abstract and unidentifiable sounds to support the drama.
Sound designers and composers begin their work by studying the script, gathering as much information as they can about any sound or music it calls for. As in all other aspects of design, an early meeting with the director and the design team is essential to get a clear understanding of the production concept.
Some directors will already have very clear ideas about what the sound effects and/or music should sound like, while others may request that the sound designer/composer sit in on rehearsals to assist with developing effects and music to fit the specific contexts in which they will be used. Once they have a precise sense of what the production needs out of the music or sound, the composer begins composing the necessary musical pieces and the sound designer begins to gather and create the necessary sounds.
Sound Designer
Hairdresser - Responsible for the design and execution of hairstyle and color for cast members appearing on stage.
Key duties may include: Submitting hair design and color samples for cast members appearing in a production, in consultation with director, costume designer and make-up artist; creating designs as agreed upon while instructing cast members in the proper procedure for execution of the design; monitoring and maintaining hair designs and color throughout the run of the production; maintaining an inventory of design tools, dryers, and related hairdressing materials for use in each production; collecting, maintaining and preserving hairpieces and/or wigs as property of the theatre company; supervising clean up and storage of all hair products; working within prescribed budget; training hairdressing volunteers in method and practice.
Makeup Designer - This person is responsible for preparation and application of make-up to cast members.
Key duties may include: consulting with director, costume designer and hairstylist for final approval of characters’ appearances; make-up design; maintaining an inventory of make-up products consistent with general makeup requirements for cast members; acquiring any make-up products specific to character cast members’ appearance on stage; applying make-up for cast members unfamiliar with basic requirements and techniques, to be done in an instructional manner so as to allow cast members to learn techniques; supervising and maintaining make-up requirements throughout the run of each production; supervising removal of make-up, preserving pre-cast and/or pre-made pieces for use throughout the run of the production; supervising clean-up of make-up room and inventory of products; cleaning and storing make-up to preserve product life and allow maximum use; working within prescribed budget; and training make-up volunteers in methods and practice.
Hairdresser and Makeup Designer
Thomas Kail, best direction of a musical,
, Tony Award winner 2016
Ivo Van Hove, best direction of a play, A View from the Bridge, Tony Award winner 2016
The Short List of Directorial Duties
1. Getting Started - The director selects the play, sets the dates for auditions, rehearsals, and the performance and develops the artistic vision for the play.
2. Reading and Researching - The director studies the play through multiple readings. If the play takes place in a different historical period, the director will need to check a number of references to learn more about how people who lived during that time period looked, spoke, worked, and so on. Often the director gets help from a dramaturg.
3. Assembling the team - The director enlists the aid of the production team to establish both continuity of design and a production schedule.
4. Assembling the tools - The director or stage manager prepares a prompt book using a three-ring loose leaf binder. Each page of the prompt book contains a page of the script glued onto a page of paper.
5. Getting Down to it - The director conducts auditions, casts the play, and schedules and conducts rehearsals.
The Producer
Short List of Producers Duties
1. Getting Permission - The producer must figure out a budget that takes into consideration the costs of producing the play, including the payment of
, money paid to the author for the use of the script.
2. Getting an Audience - A large part of the producer's job is to bring in a crowd - to let the school and community know about the production and to get them excited about attending.
3. The Program - The producer is also in charge of creating the program. There should be artistic continuity between the program and the advertising, poster, and fliers.
4. Running Interference - The duties of the director and producer overlap at times. The producer's role often expands as the director gets deeper into the rehearsal process.
The Short List of Technical Director Responsibilities:
Operates, maintains and safeguards the technical assets of the theatre, including supervising the use of lighting, sound, communications equipment, and the use and maintenance of stage facilities.
Determines the necessary technical supports, such as lighting, sound, staging, and special needs, necessary for events and performances presented at the facility in advance of production dates.
Designs, sets up, maintains, and operates lighting and sound systems for theatre, dance, music, and other productions and projects; assists guest designers and arts with technical matters.
Advises production managers, lighting and sound designers, on the technical specifications, costs and usage of technical equipment required for the individual show, and supervises the implementations of approved technical designs.
Supervises and assists with set and stage construction and management.
Monitors the condition of equipment including lighting, sound, and rigging equipment; arranges for the repair and replacement within budgetary constraints; performs preventive maintenance on equipment.
Assists with the preparation and control of production budgets; maintains inventory and orders specialized supplies.
Attends technical Week rehearsals, in order to supervise and assist in the technical aspects of the mounting the show.

The Production Team
The director, producer, designers, and actors may have the jobs with the highest profiles, but they wouldn't get far without the production team. Following this is a list of backstage and off-stage personnel and their duties to help you understand and appreciate their collaborative relationships.
The stage manager is in charge of all stage crews.
He or she also assists the director.
During rehearsals, the stage manager takes notes, records the actors' movements, informs the production team of the director's needs, and helps with scheduling.
During final rehearsals and performances, the stage manager has complete supervision of the stage.
He or she calls cues for lights, special effects, and curtains. When the play closes, the stage manager helps with the strike (disassembling of the set).
Stage managers have several key responsibilities and tasks to perform in each phase of a production, including:
running rehearsals
coordinating the work of the stage crew
calling cues and possibly actors' entrances during performance
overseeing the entire show each time it is performed
In conjunction with the director, the stage manager makes sure everyone involved is notified of rehearsal times, meetings, costume/wig fittings and coaching sessions. During the rehearsal phase, stage managers also:
mark out the dimensions of the set on the floor of the rehearsal hall
make sure rehearsal props and furnishings are available for the actors
attend all rehearsals
notify the designers and crafts people of changes made in rehearsal
To the right, Natasha Katz's
The Little Mermaid
Lighting Design from 2008
Set Designer
All the scenery, furniture and props the audience sees at a production of a play make up the set design. The set designer's job is to design these physical surroundings in which the action will take place.
The set may also need to be designed so the backstage areas used by the actors and stage crew are kept out of sight from the audience. This will depend on the effect the director wants to create with the staging and on the type of stage the production uses.
All the things appearing on the stage other than the scenery are called stage properties, or props. Set props like furniture, draperies and decorations are the types of things that complete the set and they need to be part of the set design.
The set designer will normally read the script many times, both to get a feel for the flavor and spirit of the script and to list its specific requirements for scenery, furnishings and props.
The time of day, location, season, historical period and any set changes called for in the script are noted. The set designer's focus here is on figuring out everything that may be needed based on the dialogue in the script. Stage directions tend to be ignored at this point in the process.
Set designers use several tools to communicate their ideas to the director and the other designers. These include:
a rough sketch of the set in the preliminary phase
floor plans drawn to scale showing from above the general layout of each set and the placement of the furniture and large props
front elevations giving a view of the elements of the set from the front and showing details like windows or platforms
miniature three-dimensional models showing how each set will look when finished.
These visual aids help to ensure that all the theatre artists involved in the production understand each other.
Once the show opens, the designer's work is essentially complete. Now it's normally the job of the stage manager and backstage crew to make sure that every aspect of the production runs just as the designer intended, time after time, until the production closes.

Stage crew
- build, paint, and set up stage scenery. The stage crew on site during performances also shifts scenery when needed, and after the performance, sets up for Act I of the next night's show.
Light crew
- uses the lighting charts and cue sheets to properly hang and focus the lights. The crew then runs the lights during the show.
Sound crew
- works on the sound cue sheet and provides the necessary sound effects. Under the direction of the sound designer they may help select music to enhance the scene transitions and the mood of the play.
costume crew
supplies the costumes and assigns dressing rooms. During the run of the show, the costume crew keeps the costumes clean, organized, folded, and pressed.
makeup crew
plans makeup for necessary supplies, and arranges for a separate makeup room if possible. During the final rehearsals and run of the show, the makeup crew assists the actors in putting on their makeup.
Props Crew
- Prepares detailed prop lists for each scene and locates all props and furniture, including those props that will be used in performance and rehearsal. The head of the props crew (sometimes referred to as the "Props Master") assigns each crew member specific props to set and strike for each act. The crew organizes the props, keeping those for each scene in a separate basket or table. Although actors are expected to check their specific props, the props crew is expected to keep the props in the correct order for the actors to check.
Publicity Crew
- advertises the show by giving the school and local papers various news stories concerning performance dates, people, and information about the play and the playwright. The crew identifies and designs marketing posters and flyers.
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