Like many people, I enjoy going to theater performances, concerts, festivals, and other live-entertainment events, and I’m lucky enough to attend a variety of shows throughout the year. There’s a tremendous amount of work that goes into the production and presentation of every performance, from some very talented behind-the-scenes, unsung and unseen heroes, who rarely get the public acknowledgement they rightfully deserve.
When we buy tickets to a concert or attend a show, we may know the names of the performers, musicians, or composers, but it is unlikely we’ll know the names of any of the people in the background who are needed to make that event happen. Yet, it is because of the dedicated and coordinated efforts of those talented and skilled people whom we don’t see, that we (hopefully) get to enjoy those who do appear on stage. And when these hidden folks do their jobs well, their contributions become seamless and integral to your enjoyment of the performance you want to see.
Putting on a live performance takes teamwork. The people on stage – actors, singers or musicians – must work together to create a presentation that appears cohesive and polished. And there are people in the background whose coordinated efforts with both the talent and other technicians make the artists and performers look and sound their best.
Let’s now give proper respect to all those it takes to put on a show, including:
- Sound and lighting professionals who don’t get enough credit for setting the right mood and tone for a performance! If something goes wrong on their end, it will likely be what you remember most (negatively) about the performance. Not much worse than going to a show where you can’t see one of the performers, or can’t hear another.
- The electrician who’s there to ensure that anything and everything that lights or moves or otherwise gets plugged in, gets the juice it needs without blowing a fuse.
- The carpenters and designers who create, build and paint sets and backgrounds, and those who procure and manage stage props to create the appropriate ambiance of location, time and space. Stage scenery today is very intricate, and frequently individual pieces are rotated, turned and manipulated to be used differently in multiple scenes in the course of a production.
- And let’s not forget the stage riggers who build the structural support for the production.
- There are the costume designers who create what is worn on stage, and the dressers who assist talent getting into and out of their attire in a short amount of time, frequently multiple times throughout a performance.
- Much respect to the roadies who haul tons of heavy equipment in and out of venues before and after gigs.
- We can’t forget those involved with the booking of performances, who work long and hard to ensure productions happen on schedule.
- Although a lot of tickets are procured online these days, box office personnel are also an integral part of the operations. As are the finance managers who make certain that budgets are kept and met, and people get paid on time.
- Ushers and security staffs also must be acknowledged for getting us to our seats, removing the rowdies and making way for emergency personnel if they are needed. And a tip of the hat to the maintenance, sanitation and cleanup crews who get venues presentable for each show.
- And of course, no disrespect intended to anyone omitted.
Whether these hard working, talented professionals live and work locally, or travel on tour with the performers doesn’t matter, they work invisibly so you can enjoy the production to the fullest.
So, why am I going on about all these behind the scenes people? Like I said at the outset, I see a lot of performances each year, and have much respect for those who make them happen. The San Francisco area is blessed to have a wealth of entertainment options year round, and the great climate allows for many outdoor festivals and concerts.
Every fall, one of my favorite events is the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, which just celebrated its 11th year. The diversity and wealth of talent presented at this annual event is staggering, but so is the insane volume of work it takes to put all that talent on six stages simultaneously for three solid days. Those behind the scenes who make this event happen may be unseen and unsung but they truly deserve serious acknowledgement for the gargantuan undertaking that draws over a half million people into Golden Gate Park to enjoy the fruits of their extensive labors! It’s an enormous amount of collaborative work for all those involved, and I’d like to extend my sincerest thanks, respect and appreciation to everyone for yet another fabulous event.
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