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.
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.
To be a stagehand you should:
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.
If you would like to know anything about Stagehand that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
National Council for Drama Training
1-7 Woburn Walk
Tel: 020 7387 3650
Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444