As theatre educators, it's easy to focus upon the acting aspects of drama education. After all, it is the main draw. But lighting, set design, sound effects, makeup, costuming, and other technical functions of production can be great opportunities for students to grow and develop key skills for theatre and life. Follow these simple tips to grow your young theatre makers as members of your student production team.
Some theatre students gravitate toward the off-stage production work as a natural extension of their own interests. Others may find themselves unfulfilled in acting roles and seek additional creative options within the Company. Still other students, who love acting, find themselves without a part in a given show and turn to production roles as a way to stay engaged. Especially for these students, taking on a production role can keep them involved and interested and sometimes soothe hurt feelings.
As teachers and directors, we understand how essential production roles are to the success of a show, and we are uniquely able to identify students who have the skills and passion to excel in these important roles in making theatre.
The Theatre Producer’s Planner will be referenced for details for production positions often held by students, so you’ll want to have that handy! You’ll find a list of potential student positions on Pages 1 & 2 and more specific responsibilities for each position on Pages 10-17.
Build Your Student Production Team
A good approach to forming a student production team is, ‘The more, the merrier!’; keep in mind that students have many responsibilities and busy schedules, so spreading out the work is not just good for involving as many students as possible, but also a way to make sure no one student is overscheduled. Tailor your student production team to your specific needs and the number of students you’re trying to engage. This is not an exhaustive list of potential positions for students on the production team, but it’s a start:
- Student (or Assistant) Director
- Stage Manager
- Props Master(s)
- On-stage Managers (right and left)
- Lightboard Operator
- Spot Operator(s)
- Sound Operator(s)
- Set Crew
- Marketing & Ticketing
- House Manager & Ticketing
- Dance Captain (for musicals)
- Costuming Assistant
- Make-up/Hair/Wig Assistants
Work with your adult production team and other school personnel (faculty, Deans, Counselors, etc.) to match available students with a role for which they have some matching skills or show promise to develop them; refer to the list of specific responsibilities on Pages 10-17 in the Theatre Producer’s Planner.
What to Look For In Production Team Members
In general, you are looking for students who are organized, detail-oriented, able to see the ‘big picture’, are good problem solvers, and in general, can keep a cool head amidst chaos. It might seem like a daunting task to train students in these skills, but once trained, they can make a production run much more smoothly and take many tasks off the plates of adult leaders.
Build Support With School Personnel
Collaborating with other school personnel can reap great rewards; often, students ‘fall through the cracks’ or are struggling to find their place, especially in a big school. Other faculty, deans, and counselors can be an excellent resource for you in terms of identifying students who might really need the theatre and who might contribute positively to your program.
Be Flexible In Your Role Definitions
As we've seen through 2020 and 2021, flexibility is essential for making art on stage. Redefining your roles may be necessary to deal with changes to audience expectations and new delivery methods. Creating roles related to video editing, running live streams, and even a student camera crew can help grow their real world skills and expand your theatre program's reach. While integrating new equipment and technology may seem intimidating at first, working with students can free up your time to focus on leading your production and add valuable experience to their learning.
Adding technology solutions to your school's theatre program can create additional opportunities for student learning. On The Stage provides an all-in-one platform for ticketing, promotions, digital marketing, streaming, merchandising, and more. User-based permissions integrated into our platform create unique opportunities for production team members to assist in administrative functions for your production. Book a free, no-pressure demo with a member of our team to learn how our software can save you time and empower your students to make your next production your greatest yet.