Production Staff Positions
When interviewing for production staff positions, it's often helpful to know what precisely we mean by a given title. Therefore, we present the following list of production staff positions and the duties they usually fulfill. Note that every show is a bit different, and sometimes part of one person's job is taken up by someone else. Much of this is negotiable, but the following is a good starting point.
Producer - Director - Music Director - Choreographer - Stage Manager - Technical Director - Set Designer - Costume Designer - Lighting Designer - Publicity Designer - Publicity Manager - Sound Designer - Master Carpenter - Master Stitcher - Master Electrician - Properties Manager - Program Designer - Advertising Manager - Reservations Manager - Box Office Manager - House Manager
The Producer makes sure that everything gets done, and that the Guild's resources (people, money, and materials) are used prudently to produce the best possible result. While most of the details are delegated to the production staff, several specifics are typically handled directly by the producer:
- create budget (must be approved by the Managing Board)
- schedule and run weekly production meetings, to track progress and coordinate efforts
- arrange for archival videographic recording of the performance
- complete event registration through the CAC office
- arrange venue for cast party and organize refreshments
The Producer also has specific responsibilities under the Guild's Casting Notification Policy.
The Producer of the current show is especially encouraged to attend the weekly meetings of the Managing Board, to report on the status of the show and to request any needed assistance with outstanding issues.
When all is said and done, the principal role of the producer is to anticipate and address any problems that might arise during the production. The Guild has a separately maintained "Producer's Guide" which elaborates on the mechanics of these responsibilities.
The Director is responsible for defining a coherent, consistent artistic interpretation (sometimes called a `concept' or `vision') for this production of the show (script and music). This interpretation might need to be revised during the early stages of production to accommodate casting or technical limitations.
The Director verbalizes the interpretation to the production staff to provide artistic coordination of their independent design efforts. Any specific technical requirements to accomplish this interpretation should be identified specifically as early in the process as possible.
The Director might articulate (elements of) the interpretation during auditions or at the first read through, but certainly continues to communicate it to the cast through the rehearsal process. The Director, while free to pursue any rehearsal techniques that are effective, must finalize the technical requirements and blocking in sufficient time to allow the production staff to complete their responsibilities.
At auditions, the Director works with the Music (Vocal) Director and Choreographer (if appropriate) to evaluate each candidate's capabilities and suitability for a role in the production. The Guild's casting policy requires that priority be given to members of the MIT community, and especially to MIT students.
Because of the variety of skills required, the position of Music Director is sometimes split between two people -- Vocal Director and Orchestra Director. When this is the case, an extra effort is needed to ensure that they coordinate on tempos, musical interpretations, and optional variations in the music.
The Vocal Director runs the singing portion of auditions, evaluating each candidate's vocal range and singing ability. The Vocal Director is responsible for teaching the songs to the cast, including vocal interpretations that are consistent with the Director's artistic interpretation. It is common that vocal rehearsals dominate the earlier part of the rehearsal schedule.
The Orchestra Director is responsible for recruiting the instrumentalists needed for the show, which can range from a single piano or a small combo to a full-sized orchestra. Separate auditions (typically by appointment) should be held when practical. The Orchestra Director schedules and runs orchestra rehearsals separately, until rehearsals with the cast begin about a week before opening.
The Choreographer is responsible for designing dances that are consistent with the Director's artistic interpretation and coordinate with the cast's movements before and after the dance, and for teaching this choreography to the cast.
Depending on the requirements of the show, the role of Choreographer is sometimes filled by the Director or by a qualified member of the cast. For shows in which dance plays a major role, however, there will be a separate Choreographer who will participate in the audition process.
The Stage Manager works through all phases of the production to encourage the best from the cast:
- While typically not involved in casting decisions, manages the process so that all auditioners are seen fairly and with a minimum of delay. May be involved in notifying auditioners of the casting decisions.
- Develops and distributes a rehearsal schedule that satisfies the requirements of the directing staff, while respecting the stated conflicts of each cast member and minimizing time spent unneeded at rehearsals. Releases (typically a week in advance) reserved rehearsal spaces that will not be needed.
- Ensures that all cast members are present, as scheduled. Provides representations of the designed settings (e.g., taped layout of floor plan in rehearsal space) and records blocking as it is developed. Prompts cast with lines and blocking, as needed, during off-book rehearsals and points out discrepancies in their performances.
- Technical Requirements
- Records any special technical requirements (props, furniture, etc.) identified during rehearsals and relays them to appropriate members of the production staff. Encourages and coordinates cast participation in the technical aspects of the production (e.g., set and costume construction) to facilitate their timely completion. Having the most complete knowledge of the technical requirements, can substitute for the Producer as chair of production staff meetings.
- Prod Week
- Assumes operational control of the production once it has moved into the performance space. Enforces (or adjusts, as needed) the schedule developed with the production staff so that the space is used efficiently, providing adequate time for both the performers and the crews. Ensures that incomplete technical work does not jeopardize the safety of the performers, issuing warnings or adjusting rehearsal conditions as needed.
- Coordinates all aspects of performances. Ensures that the cast and run crew are present and that all presets have been completed. Controls the flow of the performance by calling all cues.
The Technical Director has overall responsibility for the technical aspects of the production:
- Ensures that identified technical requirements don't `fall through the cracks' between different departments (sets, lights, props, costumes, sound). As needed, designs and constructs `special effects' that are not the direct responsibility of other departments.
- Submits the set plan to CAC for safety review and shepherds its acceptance.
- For productions in La Sala de Puerto Rico, develops the audience seating chart.
- Coordinates the staffing of crews, including the incorporation of cast members.
- Once it is available, manages use of the performance space outside rehearsals. Schedules and runs `move' (of the sets to the space), `put in' (installation of lights and sets), and `strike' (evacuation of the space).
- Arranges a venue for the crew party and chairs its proceedings.
The TD often functions as a second (or in place of the) Master Carpenter to facilitate set construction through the rehearsal period.
- requirements of script, director, music director, choreographer
- location of orchestra/accompaniment
- floor plan; use of space
- set changes -- moving pieces
- special effects
- construction drawings
- requirements of script, director, choreographer
- costume changes
- dry cleaning -- re-store
- requirements of script, director
- light plot
- equipment rentals
- special effects
- return of rentals
- develop motif consistent with director's vision
- submit final poster design, including all text, to managing board
- adapt design for T-shirts, program cover, drop poster, other media
- develop publicity plan & schedule
- arrange for reproduction and distribution of posters
- arrange for production of T-shirts; solicit & process orders
- arrange for preparation & hanging of drop poster
- locate all required sound effects
- design any required sound reinforcement
- acquire and set up equipment for sound presentation
- coordinate with set designer to implement design within budget
- maintain inventory of all required set pieces and components
- manage the installation of the set into the performance space
- identify the resources required for all planned set changes
- maintain the integrity of the set through the run of the show
- ensure that all borrowed or rented pieces are returned
- coordinate with director and stage manager to determine what props are necessary
- rent, borrow, or build props as necessary to fit within budget
- instruct cast in proper handling of delicate items
- prepare props tables backstage, and work with ASMs or cast members to make sure that props are in place before the show and replaced properly afterwards
- maintain the integrity of the props through the run of the show
- ensure that all borrowed or rented props are returned
- coordinate with costume designer to implement design within budget
- organize all required measurement of cast members
- oragnize all required costume fittings
- assist as needed with 'quick' costume changes
- maintain the integrity of the costumes through the run of the show
- ensure that all borrowed or rented pieces are returned
- coordinate with lighting designer to implement design
- maintain inventory of all required instruments
- manage the installation and cabling of instruments into the performance space
- maintain instruments through the run of the show
- ensure that all borrowed or rented instruments are returned
- train board operator to handle cues during performances
- coordinate with production staff to get an accurate list of all people associated with the production
- request and attempt to collect short bios for program
- coordinate with Managing Board and advertising manager to locate copy for all existing ad contracts, and for any ad swaps with other theatre organizations.
- assemble program and arrange with the producer for copies to be made.
- sell program ads to local companies
- contact other theatre groups on campus for ad swaps
- coordinate with the producer to collect all reservations placed through the webform and other sources
- coordinate with the webmaster to close reservations at an appopriate time
- coordinte with the box office manager to place all reservations in appropriate seats
- coordinate with treasurer to make sure box has enough change before every performance
- maintain an orderly flow of patrons as they purchase tickets, select seats, and pick up reservations
- coordinate with house manager to help direct patrons into the theater, or to advise them of delays in opening the theater
- fill out box office tally forms
- coordinate with treasurer on bank deposits, if necessary
- prepare and train ushers before each performance
- ensure that programs are available for each performance
- coordinate with stage manager to determine when to open theater doors, and keep box office managers informed of status changes
- assist box office manager with crowd control if necessary
- after doors are open, assist ushers with crowd management
- coordinate with stage manager on closing house and starting performances