NSO’s roadies? I could be interested…
It’s actually more than that – a lot more, in fact. We want our productions to be as great to look at as they are to listen to, and when the curtain opens on a dramatic set you can bet that a lot of people in the stage crew and beyond have put in a lot of work to make it happen.
‘Crew’ implies a team of people with different roles; exactly what sort of tasks could I be involved with?
Working with a wide range of people and handing an equally wide range of different tasks – sometimes in a short space of time – is one of the big attractions of being in NSO’s stage crew. You could find yourself driving a large van loaded with scenery and props to a performance venue – and barely half an hour later helping a professional lighting designer set up his complex lighting rig. For any opera production, it’s critically important that everyone on stage can see the conductor at all times. So we need a camera and monitors around the stage – and we need someone to set them up and operate them. Sometimes, you might have to respond to the unpredictable; if a fuse goes in one of the lighting circuits, it could be you who has to leg it down the road to find a replacement.
What sort of people would I work with?
Working with a wide range of people is one of the big attractions of being in NSO’s stage crew. For a start, your ‘boss’ and mentor would be a professional stage manager with loads of experience; working closely with him or her is a great way to learn about opera production and how the whole back stage operation of a theatre actually functions; it could even be your first steps on the road to a stage management role yourself. You’d liaise with the people who actually design and make the scenery and props; they’d value your views on how practical and robust their designs are. And just because your work is largely out of sight, don’t imagine you’ll be regarded as a second class citizen; the director, music director, soloists and chorus know full well that a great performance couldn’t happen without people like you.
How would I know if I’d be good at this kind of role?
Stage crew work can be pretty physical at times, so you need to be reasonably fit. You also need to be a quick thinker – ready to respond to fast-changing situations and the odd emergency that can happen even in the best-planned productions. You’ll be a practical type, fascinated by how things work and handy with a tool kit. Your can-do attitude will impress everyone you come into contact with and you’ll be as happy for others to take credit where it’s due.
Why should I want to join the NSO stage crew?
To work with friendly, inspirational people; to discover the fascination of the back stage world; to know you’ve made your own contribution to a production that audiences and critics will rave about.