Looking for something different?
The hallmark of being a stagehand is variety.
it's always something new!
Most of our work is setting up touring shows.
Those without any experience usually start as a "Pusher" moving stuff around, (usually on wheels!)
We have some unique lingo.
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 will reach out asking if you want to work for a specific show, date and time.
Your first “call” will likely be at the Veterans Memorial Arena where we often need over 100 people. So here is a description of what it may be. If you are called to the FIC/Opera House or The Pavilion (Riverfront Park) the details will vary but overall it’s the same process.
Your “Call Time” is given as part of the offer to work. When you agree to work you agree to that time. This time is for you, and others will often have different times. You are expected to be completely ready to work at that time. Allow time for traffic, parking, checking in, coats and whatever else you may need. Half an hour beforehand is not too soon, especially for your first day!
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 building 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. Each group should have some experienced hands that will help guide the group. 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.
"Truck Loaders” work inside the truck trailers. Generally everyone else stays out! It takes care and coordination to do this work safely!
“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 those stage directions are used! 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.
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! At some point during unloading your work group will be called together and given detailed instructions.
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” or whatever. The show has the option to provide meals on site and give us 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 your clear to do something else.
When the steward tells you 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.
You will get dirty and come up against hard sharp edges. You may be cool in the morning and hot later on.
Maintain a professional demeanor; this is a customer service position as much as it is skilled labor.
Work as a team: slower is safer (work efficiently - do not rush)
If something seems unsafe, check with a Union member before proceeding. Report all incidents or hazards immediatel
Most carry; Gloves, Adjustable Wrench 8", Knife/ Multi tool.
Special tools will be provided as needed.
Pay attention to how equipment arrives – it will leave the same way (but in the opposite order) and it all has to be ready for the next show.
Tie knots that are simple to untie (like shoelaces) we often use a clove hitch and the bowline. Please review those knots before arriving at work.
Run cable in paths that are easy to pull up.
Leave courtesy tabs on temporary tape. Be aware that some tape is meant to be left permanently as labels for the road crew, or to loom several cables together.
You will be paid for a minimum of 4 hours for any given call
Generally, but not always, you will be called for a LOAD IN and a LOAD OUT, and each shift has a 4-hour minimum
Most typical calls do not exceed 4-5 hours, but you may be expected to stay longer without warning
When you accept the call, you are expected to stay at work until officially released by the Steward
Avoid making plans to be done by a certain time, and let the Call Steward know in advance if you have to leave by a certain time (accommodations can be made, but are not guaranteed)
Overtime is 1.5 times the regular hourly rate, and is given after 8 hours in one day, or 40 hours in one week (all at the same gig)
The hourly rate before 8am is also 1.5 times the regular rate.
Pay periods end on the 15th and last day of the month. Paychecks are mailed by the 5th and 20th.
Local 93’s payroll is done by Spokane Production Service (SPS); they issue your checks and are considered your legal Employer of Record for Unemployment and State Industrial reports.
A 4% Work Assessment is deducted from your check to help fund the operations of Local 93 and the manage the Hiring Hall, which is in addition to the Union Members’ quarterly dues
Paycheck-related concerns can be directed to SPS at (509) 747-6994