When the technical department arrives at St Francis theatre just two weeks before the first show, all we have is an empty stage with no scenery, backdrops, legs, flies or any props.
Before the show can be put on, we have to fill the stage with appropriate equipment and visual detail so that the performance area is created.
All the items that you see on stage from tables and chairs through to totem poles and pylons have to be specially made and painted before being transported to the theatre to be used in the production. We have a dedicated team of people who spend many evenings in the run-up to the show sawing, painting, gluing, nailing and working together to create the props for our cast to use.
On the night, our props man is responsible for ensuring that the right pieces arrive on the stage at the right time and, just as important, are removed from the stage after that scene is over.
Flies and scenery
The stage itself has to be dressed up for the opening night and this is accomplished by either hiring or making backdrops and flies.
A backdrop is a large curtain or piece of cloth (a drop) which is suspended on a bar and can be raised or lowered from the fly gallery by our fly team. They are called this because these drops are ‘flown in’ from the wings (side of stage) or the ceiling (fly gallery). This team also flies in larger pieces of scenery and other drops which can hide back stage preparations from the audience whilst something is being performed in front of them.
As you can imagine, the fly crew have to be very strong and fit to keep on lifting these heavy drops in and out of view by pulling on a series of ropes. It is also very hot on the flying rig as this is situated up a very long ladder in the ceiling above the stage!