Backstage

 

Creative Call

Creative calls are times when volunteers and Playhouse staff work together to build the set; paint set pieces, floors, and backdrops; assemble rigging; build and augment props; and build costumes. Creative calls are a great way to learn new theatre skills and meet other Playhouse volunteers! Feel free to bring some friends and work for a few hours. You must be at least 16 years of age to work independently in the shop. Those as young as 14 can participate in creative calls if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. Students: Remember, this is a fun and easy way to get those volunteer service hours needed for church or school. Bring your form to be signed.

 

Young Frankenstein   Planned activities for the week (contact technical director for specific daily plans)
Build Schedule  
     
   *Thursday evening (6:00 -10:00) is designed as a program to bring more youth into the theatre. These build sessions will be part instruction and part shop build time with an emphasis on getting younger people interested in theatre construction.
 
Monday 2/6 10:00 AM 6:00 PM  

Beginning Build

  Start on complex units

Build Spinning Bookshelf, Hermit House, and Lab Table

 Sunday 2/12 – Strike ‘The Great Gatsby’

Tuesday 2/7 12:00 PM 6:00 PM  
Wednesday 2/8 10:00 AM 6:00 PM  
Thursday 2/9 10:00 AM 6:00 PM  
Friday 2/10 10:00 AM 6:00 PM  
Saturday 2/11      
Sunday 2/12  4:00 PM 7:30 PM   
Monday 2/13 10:00 AM 6:00 PM  

Hang Soft Goods

Build Hay Wagon and much of the 2D units

Tuesday 2/14 12:00 PM 6:00 PM  
Wednesday 2/15 10:00 AM 6:00 PM  
Thursday 2/16 1:00 PM 10:00 PM  
Friday 2/17 10:00 AM 6:00 PM  
Saturday 2/18 10:oo AM 5:00 PM  
Sunday 2/19      
Monday 2/20  10:00 AM 6:00 PM   

Build Fireplace, Stairs, Hanging Doors and Windows.

 

Tuesday 2/21 12:00 PM 6:00 PM  
Wednesday 2/22 10:00 AM 6:00 PM  
Thursday 2/23 1:00 PM 10:00 PM  
Friday 2/24 10:00 AM 6:00 PM  
Saturday 2/25      
Sunday 2/26      
Monday 2/27 10:00 AM 6:00 PM  

Complete Build on Laboratory units and Dungeon units.

Tuesday 2/28 12:00 PM 6:00 PM  
Wednesday 3/1 10:00 AM 6:00 PM  
Thursday 3/2 1:00 PM 10:00 PM   
Friday 3/3 10:00 AM 6:00 PM  
Saturday 3/4  9:00 AM 1:00 PM   
Sunday 3/5      
Monday 3/6 10:00 AM 6:00 PM  

Finish Remaining Projects

 Tech Rehearsals Begin Wed.

Tuesday 3/7 12:00 PM 6:00 PM  
Wednesday 3/8 10:00 AM 6:00 PM  
Thursday 3/9 1:00 PM 10:00 PM  
Friday 3/10 10:00 AM 6:00 PM  
Saturday 3/11      
Sunday 3/12      
Monday 3/13  10:00 AM 6:00 PM   

  Finish All Outstanding Projects and Detail Work

Clean Shop 

Tuesday 3/14 12:00 PM  6:00 PM   
Wednesday 3/15  10:00 AM 6:00 PM   
Thursday 3/16  10:00 AM 6:00 PM   

A Few Reminders:

We ask that you please come dressed for the job. That means closed-toed shoes and clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty or getting paint on. Please reference our new Shop Safety Rules posted on the shop office door when arriving.

If you arrive at the shop during posted build hours for the Mainstage and find the door locked, pull on the handle. If door is still locked, contact Tracy Stewart, technical director, 515-590-2725.

New Volunteers:

Feel free to join us in the shop anytime during posted build hours. You do not need to sign up or contact us beforehand. We ask that you please observe all safety rules while working in the shop. In order to give each volunteer proper recognition for their work we ask that you fill out our volunteer time sheet located on the door of the tool cabinet. 

Available Volunteer Production Positions:

Deck Hands (Steel Magnolias)

Light Board Op (Fancy Nancy)

Sound Board Op (Fancy Nancy)

Backstage Volunteer Positions:

Volunteers who enjoy building and painting will enjoy the opportunity to construct sets. The set crew assists the technical director in constructing and painting the set and large prop pieces. There are jobs for the skilled carpenter, but set and prop construction is also a great place to learn some basic carpentry skills. Training is provided to those without experience. Base coat paint and detail work is needed on each set. Accomplished artists are welcomed; however it is not necessary to have experience. Volunteers are trained on the detail set work. The variety in experience levels of painters provides a great opportunity to work together to learn new techniques and share ideas.

Time Requirement: At the discretion of the volunteer. Crew calls are generally held Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 9:00 AM-6:00 PM, and Tuesday and Thursday from 1:00-10:00 PM.

This is the perfect opportunity to learn and experience what happens behind the scenes during a theatrical production. Crew members are responsible for changing the set during scene breaks and at intermission. Crew members may also be called on to use the fly system to change scenery that is flown in from above. In addition, the shift crew is used to set furniture and large props both backstage and onstage before and during performances. The shift/fly crew is led by either the stage manager or the shift captain (assistant stage manager). As a crew member, you will receive ample hands-on training before going "live" in front of an audience.

Time Requirements: One to two weeks prior to opening, generally in the evenings and at all performances (15-25 performances), as scheduled.

Prior to a show's opening, each light instrument must be hung in a specific location, focused in a particular direction, colored with a specific color, and plugged into a power source. The lighting crew assists with this process by moving lighting instruments and focusing them as directed by the lighting designer or master electrician. Hand tools are used and, in most cases, it is necessary to climb ladders in order to reach the instruments. Teamwork, initiative, and an ability to follow instructions are basic requirements.

Time Requirements: Work calls as set by the lighting designer or master electrician

During dress rehearsals and performances, the light board operator runs the computerized light board to properly light the performances. In virtually all scenarios, the board operator will be "on headset" with the stage manager who will "call" the show (tell you when to go to the next light cue). You work as a team ensuring properly-executed light changes. A commitment to teamwork, ablity to work under pressure, and effective communication skills are necessary for this position.

Time Requirements: One to two weeks prior to opening, generally in the evenings and at all performances (15-25 performances), as scheduled.

Another way to get introduced to the theatre is by being on the followspot crew. This crew operates the followspots which are used primarily in musical productions. Working with the light board operator and stage manager, you take your "cues" from the stage manager as to when and where your spot is used. And yes, the master electrician will provide training on how to run the instrument.

Time Requirements: One to two weeks prior to opening, generally in the evenings and at all performances (15-25 performances), as scheduled.

Are you good with your hands? Creative? Are you able to see treasure in a pile of junk? Do you enjoy visiting antique stores and flea markets? Then you may have the skills necessary to be a props master/mistress.

A property ("prop") is anything that is not attached to an actor or part of the set. The props master/mistress, then, is responsible for finding, borrowing, buying, or building all the "dressing" on the walls and the hand props used by the actors. This may also include real food or drink. The props master/mistress may work alone, or may have a crew to help them, depending on the show.

Time Requirements: The amount of time spent building, buying, or acquiring pieces depends on the complexity of the show, and may be done at your own pace. Because the props master/mistress is part of the design team, you will be expected to attend the weekly production meetings which generally start one-to-two weeks prior to auditions and run through tech week. Additionally, you are expected to attend rehearsals from time to time, working with the directors to make sure the props you've provided work. You are also expected to attend all technical rehearsals and all performances unless there is a props crew.

The props crew works directly with the props master/mistress to obtain the props needed for a production, as well as helps during the show. In some instances, the props crews may be called upon to help the shift crew during scene changes.

Time Requirements: One to two weeks prior to opening, generally in the evenings and at all performances (15-25 performances), as scheduled.

Similar to set builders and shift crew, there are two basic areas in costumes that need volunteer assistance: sewers and dressers.

Sewers are instrumental in building costumes as well as putting the finishing touches on projects. Anyone who can sew, from simple alterations to full-scale construction, is welcome to spend time in our costume shop. Hours and times are flexible.

Dressers help make costume changes during performances. They may also help put on wigs or help change costumes during quick scene changes.

Time Requirements: Sewers: flexible. Dressers: One to two weeks prior to opening, generally in the evenings and at all performances (15-25 performances), as scheduled.

The stage manager (SM) assumes the responsibility for the smooth and efficient preparation and execution of all aspects of a production including all of the details of auditions, rehearsals, and performance preparation. During the rehearsal process, the SM keeps a record of all the movement on the stage, and a running list of anything added that is not in the script, and prompts the actors with lines during the early rehearsals. During the performances, the SM may "call" the show. This requires wearing a headset and guiding the light and sound board operators through their cues. The SM also acts as a coordinator to distribute information about the progress of the production to all members of the company.

Becoming a SM usually involves prior experience or being involved in previous productions at the Playhouse over an extended period of time. If you are interested in stage managing a production, you are encouraged to first get involved on a production team and serve as assistant stage manager. Once you have a solid understanding of how shows are managed at the Playhouse, you will be encouraged to consider stage managing a show. Detailed training will be provided prior, during, and after your production experience.

Time Requirements: You must be available for all production meetings, auditions, rehearsals, technical rehearsals, promotional events (as needed), and the production run itself (15-25 performances). In general, the rehearsal process is six to eight weeks, six nights per week, two to four hours per night. In short, it is not unusual for a SM to spend 15 hours per week in rehearsals or meetings.

The assistant stage manager (ASM) is the SM's assistant and often serves as the shift captain. During rehearsals, the ASM may take notes and help place rehearsal set pieces. During the production, the ASM stays in contact with the SM and supervises the shift crew to make sure set changes are handled in a timely manner. After the performance, the ASM is responsible for checking dressing rooms for orderliness, and set pieces and props to insure that they are properly stored and in good condition.

Time Requirements: You should be available to assist the SM for any rehearsal-related tasks including running rehearsals and be available for the production run itself (15-25 performances).

Whether the cast requirements are small or large, volunteers are always needed to help with auditions. This is especially true when auditions are held for musicals, or casts with children. The audition crew manages the registration process, which includes distribution of forms, checking folks in, and being available for general questions about the show and the rehearsal process. They work directly with the show's stage manager.

Time Requirement: Three to five hours on audition day and possibly the one to two days following for callbacks.

For more information about volunteering backstage at the Playhouse, contact Jonathan Hudspeth, production manager, 515-974-5363.