Most of our work is setting up touring shows.
Unloading trucks and set up is an "IN"
Stage breakdown and loading is an "OUT"
Looking for something different?
The hallmark of being a stagehand is variety.
It's always something new!
Knowing the language is a big help!
There's lots more, but Stage Directions are probably the most important.
Stage directions are both specific locations and directions. So "put this upstage center" is different than "move this upstage a bit".
The Call Steward (Dispatcher) will contact you with an offer to work. The Call Steward will tell you where you will be working.
You need to fill out a W-4 and an I-9 form. You should also read the Hiring Hall rules. All of these documents can be downloaded from this website.
Your “Call Time” is given as part of the offer to work. There are several Call Times for each show. Make sure you arrive before the time assigned to you by the Call Steward
Allow time for traffic, parking, and checking in.
Every venue has their parking own rules, few give us free parking. On street (free and metered) and parking garages are usually nearby. Note that “Load Out” calls usually happen late but the audiences are still there, taking up parking spaces. Ask the call steward for specifics.
We enter the Arena through the Security door just north of the loading docks, inside the Service Yard. Tell the entry door security you are a stagehand with IATSE and show your ID. Go directly to the stagehand office. That’s across the loading dock and just down the hallway.
The “Site Steward” is your boss for the day. When you arrive tell them your name and they will check you in and collect any paperwork that wasn’t already submitted. Forms “W4” and “I9” must be completely and legibly filled out before you can work or get paid. The steward will also give your group assignment. Then you can hang your coat in the break room and get yourself ready to work.
"Road Crew” are the traveling technicians that direct every step in setting up the show. They know the show, the gear, and have done this exact job repeatedly, sometimes for years. They can often be identified by their radios and laminated show, specific passes.
We are all “Locals" and “Hands”, meaning general stagehands and are expected to assist the show crew as directed. Detailed instructions are usually given, but you are free to ask questions. We usually divide into groups based on the kind of work to be done, under specific road crew lead. You will probably work for that lead for the entire show. Each group should have some experienced hands that will help guide the group.
It's very common to very common to be a "Pusher" for your first several calls.
“Pushers” move stuff! Most boxes and big things have wheels. Really big things can take lots of people to move safely. We generally all start a load in acting as pushers. Taking stuff from the trucks and setting it around the stage area to be used shortly. This is where stage directions are used! At some point during unloading your work group will be called together and given detailed instructions.
For load out’s it’s all done in reverse. Boxes and gear are cleared by the road crew to get pushed to the trucks. As each department finishes packing their gear those hands join the pushers.
"Truck Loaders” work inside the truck trailers. Generally everyone else stays out! It takes care and coordination to do this work safely!
Electrics/Lighting/Sound/Video mostly deal with placing equipment and running cables to that gear. Technical knowledge is not required but helps. Paying careful attention to your instructions is critical!
“Carpenters” set up scenery and sometimes the stage itself. Woodworking is rarely involved. Physical assembly of scenery can vary considerably; drops, wall panels, flooring, curtains are all done by carpenters.
“Props” crew set up props, things handled by performers. They also do a wide variety of cleaning and setup work. Concerts usually don’t have a props group, but they do have “Backline” that handles musical instruments and such. Attention to detail is very important.
Rigging, Wardrobe, Forklift and other positions require approval of your skills.
We all start and end as pushers, getting stuff on/off the trucks!
Breaks will be when directed and we try to be flexible We take 15 minute breaks every 2- 2.5 hours, actual coffee or other food is sometimes provided. Meal breaks are every 4-5 hours. Meals are either an hour for “walk away” meaning you are on your own. The show has the option to provide meals on site and give 30min to eat. Such catered meals are usually very good and have vegetarian if not vegan options.
Instructions to “standby” are common. It means be ready to work and is not a break. Sometimes it’s a minute or two, sometimes it's hours. The list of things not to do too long to write. Stay where you are and watch what’s going on.
When your group work is complete your crew lead may tell you to check in with the steward. This means you're clear to do something else.
When the steward tells you that you’re done, they’ll note your final hours and you can go home.
On a load in when you are released, the steward will confirm your time to return for the load out.