People ask how I got into volunteering with the stage crew. It was never something I’d considered, until on day a work colleague, who was a sound technician/volunteer, said it would be something I would be interested in, and they were recruiting.
I figured, why not. my then wife and I were not doing well, and we thought this might be a was of shared experience to get closer (spoiler – it didn’t). I initially thought I would be right into sound. I play the guitar, like music and technical stuff. I was surprised that I actually gravitated to the lighting side.
Now, it wasn’t just a matter of putting a name on a list and boom, I’m in. There was an application, an interview with the volunteer coordinator and a police check. Then there was training. The new volunteers, about twelve, had to train in basic stage lingo (upstage, downstage, stage left/right, etc). as well as overviews of lighting, sound, flys and of course, safety. I also had to purchase steel-toed work boots, black clothing, gloves and a flashlight. I was starting to think there was a lot to this, and having doubts that I made the right choice.
My First Show
After all the training it was a few weeks before an opportunity arose. The Stage Crew Chief would let the crew know what shows/events were coming, and we could put our name in for the show and position available. My first “gig” was running spotlight for local musical theatre group, Orpheus, and their production of Beauty and the Beast. Having been a few weeks since doing training, I forgot how to turn on the light, and had to hunt down someone to help. Ooof, what a start.
On With the Shows
It all went well in the end, and I had a blast. I ended up doing about four more shows of the run (of nine shows). I was so enthused, I signed up for their next production, “Guys and Dolls” and their 100th anniversary shows (rehearsals and full runs). I was hooked. And I’ve never looked back. I’ve pretty much all of the rest of Orpheus’ productions in some position, including Lighting Designer.
Stay tuned for more tales from the stage….