Anticipation builds as the house lights start to dim.
Opening music fills the air and the actors, dressed in colourful costumes, take to the stage.
An hour of singing, dancing and sidesplitting antics later, the magical performance ends with rapturous applause from the audience. The performance has gone on seamlessly from the perspective of the audience, but only thanks to the hard work and dedication of a few unseen folks working tirelessly behind the scenes.
Stage Manager – Keeper of the Magical Stage
The stage manager of a production is responsible for everything that happens on stage. This job description covers everything from making sure the actors are dressed in the right costumes, keeping track of where all the props are and even being prepared to fix any problems that occur midway through a performance.
Alycia Finley, 31, is the stage manager for I Theatre’s Aesop’s Fables, showing at the Jubilee Theatre, Raffles Hotel from 26 February to 21 March 2015. Together with two assistant stage managers, Alycia makes sure that every show goes on without a hitch, performance after performance.
While she does not have a starring role in front of the audience, her role is no less important. In fact, Alycia’s involvement with Aesop’s Fables started even before the actors arrived for their first rehearsals. From initial script readings to working with the actors to chart out their movements on stage and organising the eight sets of costumes and props used in Aesop’s Fables, nothing occurs on the stage without her knowledge. She oversees all the action taking place in front of the audience, making sure nothing misses a beat.
While the audience focuses on the actors during a performance, what they don’t see are Alycia’s assistant stage managers bustling around busily backstage. They make sure everything is in place for the actors and ever ready to troubleshoot any problems that creep up during the performance.
Despite the lack of the limelight, Alycia shares that she gets great satisfaction from seeing a production develop from “nothing to something”. She is driven by her passion for the theatre and the joy of knowing that she has delivered a wonderful show to the audience.
Sound Operator – Wired for Sound
Sharizal, 29, is the sound operator for Aesop’s Fables. From his location behind the sound console at the balcony of Jubilee Hall, he is responsible for controlling the actor’s microphones and sound within the theatre.
In Aesop’s Fables, each actor has an individual microphone. There are five wireless microphones for Sharizal to manage, and he balances the sound of each microphone and makes sure that every actor can be heard clearly by the audience. At past I Theatre shows, there have been as many as 14 wireless microphones for the sound operator to manage and keep track of.
Over the run of a show (Aesop’s Fables is playing for three-and-a-half weeks), the actors’ voices may also change as a result of fatigue or even illness. It is the sound operator’s job to ensure that the actors’ voices are balanced with each other, so that no one is too overpowering compared to the others, or too soft causing the audience to strain to hear the dialogue.
As Aesop’s Fables is a musical performance that also features singing and dancing. Sharizal also has to make sure that the music is played on cue, allowing the actors to flow fluidly from one scene to another, keeping the momentum and pace of the performance.
So, next time you are at the theatre, don’t just focus on the stage. Turn around and look to the back of the theatre. See if you can spot the stage manager and sound operator busily doing their jobs. Give them an appreciative wave, knowing the critical roles they play in making sure that you and your family have a wonderful little day out at the theatre.
Aesop’s Fables Activity Sheets
Get a set of printable activity sheets for Aesop’s Fables and more at Little Day Out Shop.
About the “Behind The Scenes” Series
This special feature on stage and sound is part of Little Day Out’s Behind-The-Scenes Aspects of Theatre Production series to help young and old understand more about theatre productions. Read the previous Behind-The-Scenes features here.
Do look out for more of such feature stories as I Theatre rolls out its 2015 Season: