Similar careers

How to become a Stagehand

stagehand careers

What does a Stagehand do?

Stagehands, or stage technicians, carry out a wide variety of jobs backstage in theatrical productions that use scenery, props and special effects.

The work involves loading and unloading equipment; helping carpenters to construct and erect scenery; moving scenery, furniture and heavy equipment during performances; opening and closing curtains; operating automated stage machinery and clearing and cleaning the stage and backstage area.

During performances stagehands need to be familiar with every change of scene. They also need to be aware of the exact position of items on and off the stage at any time should they need to be moved.

Stagehands work under the direction of the master carpenter or the technical manager. On small productions, they may work under the instruction of the stage manager.

What's the working environment like working as a Stagehand?

Stagehands often need to work flexibly depending on the needs of the performance. They can work during the day in rehearsal or for matinees but most of their work is during the evening. They are likely to have to work Saturdays.

Conditions may sometimes be cramped and hot and may involve working at heights on ladders or walkways above the stage. The work involves lifting, pulling and pushing heavy objects.

Black clothing is worn for scene changes in the dark, and on occasions safety boots may be needed.

What does it take to become a Stagehand?

To be a stagehand you should:

  • have an interest in all aspects of theatre
  • be physically fit to carry scenery and props
  • be versatile to tackle a large number and variety of jobs
  • be enthusiastic and patient as the work is sometimes routine
  • be cheerful and helpful even in stressful situations
  • be safety conscious.

Stagehand Career Opportunities

There are opportunities in regional theatres, large theatres in London, and theatrical companies touring the country.

There are limited opportunities to move into management or to production carpenter, assisting the production manager and having direct responsibility for the production crew of stagehands and scene builders. Some stagehands working freelance become involved in large-scale touring projects such as pop, rock or classical concerts. These all involve highly technical stagecraft.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Stagehand that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Association of British Theatre Technicians
55 Farringdon Road
Tel: 020 7242 9200

Stage Management Association
55 Farringdon Road
Tel: 020 7242 9250

Guild House
Upper St Martin’s Lane
Tel: 020 7379 6000

National Council for Drama Training
1-7 Woburn Walk
Tel: 020 7387 3650

Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444

Facts and Stats:

  • Nearly one in 10 people watch television every day in an average week. The average amount watched remains at 26 hours a week. 59 per cent of those surveyed watching between two and five hours a day.
  • Filming for an episode of Eastenders normally starts six weeks before its transmission.
  • 60 per cent of people in broadcasting work on a freelance basis. The UK has some 240 radio services. The average listener can only pick up 15, six belonging to the BBC and nine commercial ones