Types of Crew and Responsibilities

Costume Prep

This crew is responsible for the construction of all the costumes for a production. A knowledge of sewing is helpful but not essential; sewing skills will be taught during crew hours. Depending on the production, a variety of non-sewing jobs is available. The work schedule for costume prep is arranged with Staff Costumer and requires an average of 3 hours per week for approximately 4 weeks before the opening of the show.

Scenic Prep

This crew builds and paints all scenery and properties for the show. Students may work under the guidance of the Technical Director, Assistant Technical Director, Scene Designer or Scenic Artist depending upon the specific duties assigned and the needs of the production. The crew is geared towards those who have had no previous building experience. During the construction period, students will work with a variety of craft materials, and learn basic carpentry and painting skills. The crew involves an average of 3 hours per week for approximately 4 weeks before the opening of the show.

Light Prep

This crew hangs and focuses all the lighting instruments under the guidance of the Lighting Designer. The crew learns about the different types of lighting instruments and their various uses. It is possible to work on this crew if you do not wish to work on ladders or high places. No previous experience is necessary. The crew involves an average of 3 hours per week for approximately 4 weeks before the opening of the show.

Sound Prep

This crew is responsible for collecting and creating the various music and sound effects necessary for the production under the guidance of the Director and Sound Designer. This crew will learn to use editing and playback software. No previous experience is necessary. The crew involves an average of 3 hours per week for approximately 4 weeks before the opening of the show.

Scenic Running

This crew, working with the Prop Running Crew, moves all the scenery during the play, under the direction and guidance of the crew head, stage manager, and the technical director. The students learn various running techniques, organization, and timing. The crew involves tech/dress rehearsal periods for the week before the show opens and about 3 1/2 hours for each performance. It is recommended that before Tech Rehearsals begin, the set running crew see a final run-thru of the production.

Prop Running

This crew, under the guidance of the Head of Props, the stage manager, and the technical director, organizes and moves all the props. In addition to the props on stage, the prop crew maintains prop tables backstage for all hand props. This crew requires a great deal of organization, responsibility, and patience. It involves tech/dress rehearsal periods for the week before the show opens and about 3 1/2 hours for each performance. It is recommended that before Tech Rehearsals begin, the set running crew see a final run-thru of the production.

Costume and Make-up Running

Costume and Make-up Running Crew prepares the dressing rooms and checks the costumes in before and after each rehearsal and performance, does minor repairs, laundry and pressing, and assists the actors in applying makeup and wigs. Responsibilities begin with costume move-in prior to Dress Parade, and continue throughout the dress rehearsal period and all performances. The crew acts as dressers for the actors and assists them with fast costume changes, and makeup as needed. In most cases actors are responsible for executing their own makeup. If a production requires special makeup techniques, the crew may be expected to attend a few training sessions prior to dress rehearsals. These sessions would be arranged to fit the schedule of everyone involved. It is recommended that before Tech Rehearsals begin, the set running crew see a final run-thru of the production.

Light Board Operator

This one-person crew programs and runs the light control board under the guidance of the Lighting Designer and Stage Manager. The crew person learns the basics of lighting instruments and the set-up for the production so that they can fix malfunctions in the equipment, if necessary. No previous experience is necessary. The crew person will need to be present for all the technical and dress rehearsals which occur during the week before the show opens and then for about 3 ½ hours for each performance.

Sound Board Operator

This one-person crew programs and runs the sound board and sound computer under the guidance of the Sound Designer and Stage Manager. The crew person learns the basics of sound and editing. No previous experience is necessary. The crew person will need to be present for all the technical and dress rehearsals which occur during the week before the show opens and then for about 3 ½ hours for each performance.

Projection Operator

This one-person crew is responsible for running the projection and media cues for a production under the guidance of the Lighting & Sound Supervisor and Stage Manager. No previous experience is necessary. The crew person will need to be present for all the technical and dress rehearsals which occur during the week before the show opens and then for about 3 ½ hours for each performance.

Followspot Operator

This one-person crew is responsible for operating a followspot during the production under the guidance of the Lighting Designer and Stage Manager. No previous experience is necessary but the student must be comfortable with heights. The crew person will need to be present for all the technical and dress rehearsals which occur during the week before the show opens and then for about 3 ½ hours for each performance

Business (running crew)

The members of this crew function as assistants to the House Manager. (See House Manager duties.)

Head of Props

This position requires an individual who has the ability to organize and coordinate. A valid driver’s license and access to an automobile is helpful (but not necessary.) The responsibilities include the procurement and returning of props, and supervision of their set-up and use during the run of the production. The Head of Props works closely with the Stage Manager, the Director, and the Set Designer. The immediate supervisor is the production’s set designer. The artistic eye of prop preparation belongs to the Head of Props. She should be able to make judgments about period, style, color, etc. when needed, based on research and consultation with the designer. During the run of the show the Head of Props should keep track of the use of perishable items and replace them as needed. Through the run of the play, a nightly check with the running crew at check-in time is strongly advised. The Head of Props must also attend weekly production meetings.

The following positions require permission from the person in charge of that area.

Assistant Director

The Assistant Director should have completed (or currently be taking) the Directing class. She works with the Director in every pre-production area possible.

Attends all production meetings with the director and: All designers, Prop head, House Manager, Technical Director, etc.

Selects scenes to be used for auditions.

Attends all auditions with the director.

Attends every rehearsal, performance, and strike.

She serves as the director’s right hand, doing whatever she can for the director:

  • taking notes at each rehearsal; running parallel rehearsals (if asked to do so by the director);
  • working specific sections with an actor; possibly running warm-ups before rehearsals and performance;
  • arranging the ordering and collecting of payment for production pictures.

Very often an Assistant Director’s role will be doubled or combined with that of the Production Dramaturg (see below).

Stage Manager

Briefly stated, the Stage Manager’s job is to make the Director’s job and life as easy as possible. More fully stated, the Stage Manager is the Director’s administrative right hand. Each director runs a show differently, so a stage manager’s duties will vary with each production, but basically, a stage manager:

  • Is in charge of auditions (handing out and collecting forms, making sure the audition area is clean, heated, well lit, furnished with chairs, pencils, whatever the Director and auditionees need). Generally, the Stage Manager will telephone those actors who are cast, and type the cast list.
  • Tapes the rehearsal floor in each rehearsal area, with the outline of the set.
  • Keeps the “prompt book”, the script in which all blocking and cues are recorded (by the stage manager).
  • Gets actors to rehearsals on time, and costume fittings.
  • Prompts the actors as they begin to rehearse without scripts.
  • Gathers rehearsal props and furniture (approximations of the real thing) and has them on hand when needed, scene by scene.
  • Times each scene, once it is in run-through, and keeps a records from then until the end of the run, of each scene’s timing.
  • Runs the play, beginning with first Tech rehearsal, as chief of the show, calling cues to each department (lights, sets, props, sound, costumes, etc.); is responsible for everyone being on time, being in the right place at the right time, and for the show’s running smoothly.
  • Is always at the Theatre at least 15-30 minutes before first call, and is the last to leave. 
  • Attends weekly production meetings.
  • Maintains communication with all departments.

This is only a general outline of duties, for specifics, see the Stage Manager booklet in the Department office.

Production Dramaturg

The Dramaturg in production works primarily with director but may also be a resource for actors, designers and technicians.

Other responsibilities include:

  • Research for production
  • Making contact with the playwright
  • Presenting dramaturgy to the cast
  • Assisting with PR
  • Creating a lobby display
  • Assist in auditions and casting
  • Attend all production meetings
  • Attend separate dramaturgy meetings with the director
  • Attend all rehearsals
  • Assist in new play development, literary management, adaptation, and/or translation
  • Assist in creating the production program
  • Organize and run pre-show or post-show discussions or talk-backs

House Manager (requirement for the major)

With assistance from the Business crew, the House Manager will:

  • Poster specific areas of the Five college campuses and centers of So. Hadley, Amherst, and Northampton with posters publicizing the production. Put up posters on the MHC campus (academic/administrative and residence halls) along with table tents in all of the dorms and campus center. 
  • Assist with the opening night party. Parties are normally held in the lobby following opening night. The House Management team will set up tables, prepare platters and drinks when necessary and clean up the entire space following the party.
  • If needed, assist the Dramaturg with setting up of the Lobby Display.
  • Take charge of securing and selling of refreshments during intermission.
  • Oversee the cleanliness and smooth running of the House (Lobby, Cloak Room, Auditorium, restrooms, patio and outside steps and steplights) for the entire run of the production including Invitational Dress Rehearsal.
  • Strike the Lobby and House following the closing performance.
  • Attend weekly production meetings, if possible.

Assistant Costume Designer

The duties of the Asst. Costume Designer vary according to the needs of a production and the experience of the student involved. An Assistant Costume Designer may help pull costumes from stock in preparation for an actor’s fitting; help shop the necessary supplies; or be assigned as needed. This position requires the permission of the Costume Designer as well as previous experience on a costume prep crew.

Assistant Costumer

This person must have been previously on a costume prep crew and requires the permission of the Staff Costumer. The responsibilities will involve the construction scheduling and setting up of fittings as well as assisting the costumer with patterning and cutting.

Assistant Set Designer

This job varies from designer to designer and is, in part, dependent upon the abilities, experience, and interests of the assistant. The assistant will usually help the designer with all aspects of the job, from planning to final touch-ups during dress rehearsals. Often the assistant will play a large part in set dressing and/or will be a liaison between set designer and Head of Props. Graphics may be a part of the assistant designer’s job. This crew requires the permission of the Set Designer.

Assistant Sound Designer

The duties of an Assistant Sound Designer include attending design meetings, production meetings, some rehearsals and to be at all the technical rehearsals.

The assistant's duties will include editing and creating sound effects and music for rehearsals and the production, using SFX to prewrite the sounds prior to the start of tech and will be responsible for maintaining up to date sound paperwork.

This position requires the permission of the Sound Designer.

Assistant Technical Director

The duties of the Assistant Technical Director will vary according to the type of set for the production. Previous work on set construction is necessary. Often the Assistant will draft scenic units and run crew periods. This position requires the permission of the Technical Director.

Assistant Makeup Designer

The Assistant Makeup Designer assists the Costume Designer in filling out makeup schematics and pulling makeup supplies. This person must have previous makeup experience or a makeup class. Occasionally a production requires special training sessions in which the Assistant Makeup Designer would assist in the training of the actors and running crew. Throughout the dress rehearsals and performances the Assistant makeup Designer supervises the application of makeup and maintenance of makeup equipment. This position requires the permission of the costume/makeup designer.

Wardrobe Mistress

The Wardrobe Mistress functions as the costume running head. This person may be asked to help with the preparation of the dressing run cards for the dressing rooms. It is recommended that a person requesting to be Wardrobe Mistress have previous experience in costume running.

Assistant Stage Manager

Serves as Assistant to the Stage Manager in any and all duties pre-Dress Rehearsal. Commencing with Tech Rehearsal, the Stage Manager will run the show from the Booth, and the Assistant Stage Manager will supervise all crew and cast on stage level. Requires permission of the Technical Director.