Of course, the purpose of any theatre is to produce plays and entertain an audience. Bedford Players is no exception to that. In addition to the many volunteers needed for other functions, the production itself needs the most volunteers.
These positions are – for the most part – production based and many change from production to production within a season.
Time commitment vary from a couple of hours (a Front of House staff member for example) to many hours a week for several months (director, stage manager, actor for example).
The producer at Bedford Players is not unlike the producer of a professional theatre or a movie in many ways. The job of the producer is to ensure the way forward for the production is clear so that everyone can do their job. If things get troublesome (as they sometimes do) the producer will need to step in and smooth things out.
Handles behind the scene tasks and problems that arise during the course of production.
Ensures that there are people to fill all production positions and their jobs get done.
Holds regular production meetings to ensure effective communication between Leads.
Ensures the the production progresses on schedule.
Works with the Director, Artistic Director and Technical Director and other principals to bring the show to reality and to ensure the practical realities are kept in check (no, we will not rent an elephant for that jungle scene!).
Depending on the situation there may be co-producers or an assistant producer.
Time commitment: A few hours per week from before rehearsals to the closing of the show (about 12 -15 weeks). This can vary, depending on the amount of time it takes to recruit and contact people about their roles, and the length of production meetings, which should be held at least every other week.
The Director holds a vision for a play and works with actors and the rest of the production staff to bring that to reality.
Holds auditions – selects cast.
Conducts rehearsals and guides the performance of the actors.
Discusses the show and its various elements with other members of the production team to communicate his/her vision to them so they can support the production in a way that is in keeping with the Director’s vision.
There may at times be an assistant director – though that’s fairly uncommon.
Time commitment: One of the largest commitments of time-usually at least ten weeks of three nights a week for rehearsals plus auditions. The director is with the show from the beginning until at least opening night, and is involved in a good amount of the preparation time and planning. Once the show opens some directors choose to attend all performances, some attend a few.
The Stage Manager is the organizer, mom, first aid responder, manager, timekeeper, messenger and generally the go-to person for everything other than the direction of the play during rehearsals and production.
Provides all organizational and administrative functions required by the Director.
Takes blocking notes during rehearsals (a type of shorthand that records the precise movement and positioning of the actors onstage).
Maintains record of blocking and script notes, keep track of any changes, additions and deletions that arise during rehearsals.
Follow script during off-book rehearsals (actors no longer need their script) and feed missed lines to the cast.
Prepare and distribute rehearsal and production reports.
Maintain communication with cast throughout rehearsal and production.
Organize the props backstage and onstage so that they can be quickly located.
During production, keep track of cast and all elements of the production!
Runs the show from the preview night onward.
Front of House Manager and Stage Manager run the theatre on production nights.
Directs and oversees the Stage Crew.
Some productions may require an Assistant Stage Manager.
Time commitment: From the first rehearsal through to closing night. This can be from 12 to 15 weeks, three nights a week plus a good deal of organizational and communication time between rehearsals. Sometimes, the Stage Manager is involved in the auditioning of actors, which then extends the length of time involved by a couple of weeks.
Provides assistance during performances with setting, moving and clearing props and other items.
Assists with clean-up after a show and preparing the stage for the next performance.
Time commitment: The Stage Crew usually starts coming to rehearsals prior to the technical rehearsals, or as required by the Director and Stage Manager. They will need to learn prop placement and what to do before, during and after the performances. After this, during performances, they will be required for three nights per week for three weeks, as well as two or three dress and technical rehearsals.
You don’t need to be a professional actor… or even have had experience – just come out and audition and see what happens.
With the help of the Director, the cast of actors will bring the characters to life to create a wonderful production!
Time commitment: Time required to learn your lines and sometimes individual rehearsing with other actors. Every rehearsal (usually three times a week for 10-12 weeks), every performance night.
Discusses technical requirements with the Director near the beginning of rehearsals. Read the play. Continue communicating with the Director regarding his/her vision.
Designs the sound and lights and any other technical aspects of the show in accordance with the Directors vision.
Develops a technical plan (lighting and sound).
Prepares a technical script, including all sound and light cues
Collects sound and musical effects from a variety of sources as required.
Attends some rehearsals.
Trains Technical Operators.
With the Tech Operator, operates the sound and lights during production in accordance with the technical script
Time commitment: Usually for the two weeks prior to opening night, go to most rehearsals. Run technical elements (sound/lights) for the technical rehearsals, dress rehearsals and performances
Assist the Technical Lead/Designer in setting up lighting and sound equipment.
Runs the light and sound requirements during the show.
Time commitment: At least one week before the show opens (more if required by the Technical Director), the technical assistants should start watching the show and learning the lighting and sound effects cues. There can be more than one technical assistant, so the shows performances can be divided among them.
Works with the Director to design a set in keeping with the Director’s vision and the script.
Usually oversees the set construction.
Time commitment: The Set Lead/Designer should be involved before the first rehearsal so that the design can be done early and the set construction can be started prior to (or during) the first week of rehearsals. If the Set Designer is overseeing the construction of the set, it usually takes at least a few weeks, a couple of days a week. The amount of time needed varies, depending on the number of people helping as well as the availability of the theatre.
Uses the plans developed by the Set Designer to build the set
Often overseen by Set Lead/Designer.
Time commitment: If you’re in charge of the set construction, it requires a few hours, several times a week, for several weeks. If you’re one of the assistants, come as often as you can, and bring your drill! Work usually starts close to the beginning of rehearsals.
Uses the colours chosen by the Director and the Set Decorator, to paint the set.
There are usually at least three or four people painting the set on a Saturday after the construction is complete. Touch-ups are done as needed.
Some stage painting techniques are used. If you aren’t familiar with these, someone may be available to teach you, or you can work on areas that don’t require these techniques.
Time commitment: A few hours, usually on a couple of Saturdays
Set dressing is a bit of a grey area. Technically set dressing refers to all items on the set that are not touched, used or referred to by the script or an actor (those are props). Dressing the set refers to making it look “real” as opposed to looking like a theatre set – therefore some shows have little or no set dressing, and some may have a very considerable amount. In reality the responsibility of the Set Dressing Lead (and team) and the Props Lead (and team) often overlap.
Finds just the right items to make the set come to life (this may involve asking others who can assist with pieces).
Time commitment: This varies from show to show. It includes several conversations with the Director, production meetings, and a few rehearsals as well as time committed to searching for, and trying out various set decorations. Once the show is in rehearsal the Set Dresser can start gathering things. There isn’t very much urgency before the last few weeks of rehearsal, but then it’s a push to get the set decorated (e.g., pictures hung and curtains up) before the dress rehearsals.
We ensure our cast is clothed (well, at least mostly) in our shows… so someone needs to be responsible for making that happen!
Works with the Director to determine the costume needs of the actors.
Meets with actors early in the process of the production to determine sizes and special considerations of each actor.
Supervise any tailor/seamstress work to ensure it’s done according to requirements and finished on time.
The Wardrobe Lead may also be called upon to assist with curtains, drapes, furniture coverings, etc.
Maintains wardrobe during the production and is on hand to address any issues or malfunctions in a timely manner.
Costume needs vary widely play by play. Some plays can be costumed almost entirely from the actors’ own wardrobe, while others may need to have all or some costumes either completely built or rented. It is the task of the Wardrobe Lead to determine these requirements and find what is needed. This means going to other theatre groups, costume rental companies, stores and thrift shops and asking the cast and theatre volunteers.
Time commitment: Several conversations with the Director, production meetings and however long it takes to find just the right costumes for the show. This could take a couple of weeks, whenever you can fit it in, or it could take several weeks if the costume needs are heavily detailed. An early start is essential!
Provides sewing for prop, wardrobe and set dressing teams. This could be anything from a skirt to curtains to cushion covers.
Provides timely services of repair during the production.
Time commitment: This all depends on how much sewing needs to be done and how many sewers are working on a production. Some shows have virtually no sewing requirement and some may need several sewers over several days.
Props are generally any item that is used, or referred to by a cast member or in the script.
Works with the Director to determine prop requirements.
Prepares a list of required props
Collects the props and maintains a list of their source in order to ensure they are returned.
Ensures props are cared for properly and secured if necessary.
Some props may have to be constructed. The Props Lead would ensure that happens.
Time commitment: It all depends on the number of items you need to find and how difficult they are to find. Some plays are easier and not too prop-heavy. Some plays are more difficult period pieces with many props. It could take anywhere from two weeks to several weeks, fitting it in whenever you can. Also depends on whether other people are able to assist in finding props. An early start is essential!
Hair & Make-up
In many cases actors will want to look after their own hair and make-up after discussing the needs with the Director. For those who want assistance in that area we provide a team of people who can help apply the required make-up or style hair in the appropriate manner.
The team is often led by one person but those on the team often will indicate they would prefer working on hair OR make-up – not both necessarily.
The Lead works with the Director to determine make-up requirements for the show. This will depend on the actors, characters, and lighting.
Do test make-up on actors for the Technical Rehearsal.
Oversee the team and assist with make-up and/or hair for actors for all performances as well as some rehearsals.
Depending on the number of Cast and the requirement for hair and make-up, one or more team members are usually required. This job can be rotated so that one person does not have to do it every night.
Time commitment: Conversations with the Director, production meetings, script familiarity and getting to know the cast and their characters. All performances from the technical rehearsal until the end of the run – about three and a half weeks.
Front of House
Front of House is the area of the theatre that is NOT part of the stage and performance (though there are times when part of the performance may move into the Front of House area).
Front of House is overseen by the Front of House Manager and is responsible for ensuring that the patrons have a positive experience in the theatre.
Organizes volunteers to work in box office and as ushers
Prepares tickets each night.
Oversees the operation of the Box Office and ushers each night.
Addresses any concerns from patrons.
An assistant FOH Manager is sometimes used. The Front of House team will be expected to work in one or more of the following areas:
Box Office – usually two or three each evening:
Provides will-call tickets to patrons who requested that service.
Scans tickets of patrons entering the theatre.
Usher – usually one or two each evening:
Greets patrons as they enter the theatre, directs to Ticket Purchase, Ticket Pick up if required.
Hands out programs.
Assists patrons to seats when needed.
Answers patron questions and inquiries.
Generally two volunteers from the Ushers or Box Office will work in the bar during intermission.
Sells soft drinks, alcohol, chocolate bars, tea and coffee
Lead – Make phone calls/send emails a few weeks before the show opens to get commitments from people for front-of-house team. Be present on all show nights.
Box Office, Ushers and Bar: One or more nights as available and willing.
Hall & Lobby Set-up
Usually on Thursday afternoons…
Sets up the chairs for the audience
Time commitment: A few hours each Thursday afternoon during production
The bar/canteen is overseen by a Manager. Each night of a performance it is staffed at intermission by one or two volunteers from the Front of House team.
Secures liquor licenses for the bar (one for each week of the production)
Purchases the supplies and other necessities for the bar/canteen
Oversees bar operation during performances
Liaises with Front of House Manager to ensure adequate volunteers are available to work at the bar each night
Recommends price changes to the Executive Committee
At times there may be an Assistant Bar Manager to assist the Manager.
Manager – A day or so during the week before the show opens, and then every Thursday to Saturday evening during performances. Additional time may be needed to replenish stock.
Assistants – One or more nights as available and willing.
Publicity & Public Relations
Oversees the Media Liaison position
Works with the website and newsletter editors and social media managers to put information out about upcoming shows.
Works with Poster Distribution team to distribute information and/or posters to businesses, clubs, organizations, churches, etc
Time commitment: Come to the first production meeting and then start compiling ideas for publicity right away. The “media blitz” happens a few weeks before the show opens. Some publications have deadlines (weekly and monthly), so those need attention sooner. All told, several hours a week for several weeks. The gathering of advertising from sponsors can happen well before a production begins.
Phone Notification Team
Uses our telephone lists to call patrons who want reminders about the current production and its running dates
Time commitment: This depends on how long it takes to get through the portion of the list assigned to you. Generally, 30-60 minutes a couple of weeks prior to the opening of the production.
Graphic Design (Posters and Programs)
Collects information for, and designs programs.
Arrange for printing, pick-up and delivery of posters and programs.
Time commitment: This depends on how long it takes you to collect the information that goes on the posters and in the programs and design them. Experience in Desktop Publishing is a definite asset.
After posters are printed, distributes posters to locations determined by Publicity Lead.
Time commitment: varies
Works with Publicity team to ensure media outlets know about the shows.
Maintains a current list of media contacts
Uses the list of media contacts to send out information about the play
Run ads in newspapers, on TV and radio as requested by the Board of Directors
Arranges for press passes and/or visits by press who are interested in covering the shows as a story.
Time commitment: most of the initial contact is via email. Then it depends on how many media outlets/personnel are interested in the production.
Ensures signs are up and accurate.
Advertising and Sponsorship
Works with sponsors (media/radio and others) to ensure they feel their needs have been met in their sponsorship.
Collects advertising copy for program from sponsors.
Collects payment for advertising from sponsors and forwards it to the Treasurer.
Time commitment: varies