Musical theatre workshops and productions

Blog 38 – A Different Perspective

perspective 2

My yoga teacher is in her 80’s. I watch as she does the headstand, the crow and the shoulder stand. It’s amazing! When she teaches, she tells us to open our eyes while doing the headstand. She says “it gives us a different perspective on life.”

When actors work backstage, this change of occupation does the same thing. They get to see what goes on during a show and how each group (backstage vs onstage) is equally important.

I remember one of the first times I had to work a running crew of a show. I was asked to run the follow spot. I thought – “Oh, this is gonna be easy!” I got one practice session – with the tech director standing on the stage and yelling to me to “tighten up the iris.” He explained that a shoulder shot meant the iris had to be small enough so that the bottom of the spot light hit just below the shoulders and that there should only be a few inches of light above the head.

perspectiveI left that practice scared out of my mind that I was going to screw something up. And I did! During the show that night, I was the focus of the stage manager’s rage since I was just not agile enough to quickly focus the spotlight on the right actor. I went home that evening mortified. But I also went home with a deep, deep respect for the technicians who run the shows.

Working backstage not only helps actors see a different perspective, it very well may help you get a job! Remember that blog I wrote about summer stock? Well…..many summer stock theatre companies expect their actors to work in the costume shop, scene shop or box office. If you have a skill in one of those areas you may get the better jobs!

There are many positive reasons why actors should occasionally work backstage. Now, what do you think about stage technicians acting?

Larry Little


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