Hidden Talent: People Behind the Spotlight Need a Moment to Shine
The curtain rises. The star steps into the spotlight. The audience is enthralled, moved, and has an unforgettable experience. The candidate gets ready to make a speech. She steps onto the stage. The microphone captures her voice, enabling everyone from the front to the back of the room to hear her platform. The company is celebrating its staff by throwing them a Christmas party. The dance floor is awash with moving lights and the textured décor creates the perfect mood.
What do all these scenarios have in common? Behind the scenes are teams of people that you seldom see. Riggers, sound technicians, lighting artists, designers, stage managers – try to image any type of event without this talent. Without them, the stars of the show are not seen or heard.
But those backstage are seldom seen or heard either.
The truth is, most of the people backstage are there by choice. They don’t crave the spotlight. While the audience is enthralled by the show, they are on the other side looking at the audience, loving the sense of wonder and enchantment a light, a fabric, a sound cue, can make. Sadly, it is precisely this quiet, out-of-sight nature that is hurting them right now. They cannot be left out of the conversation when it comes to talk of supporting the arts during the pandemic and beyond, but since they enable voices instead of raising their own, they are too often overlooked on all fronts, from recognition to financial support.
Let’s shift the spotlight to the back of the stage so you can see the hardworking men and women that help provide the very foundation of the industry. Each production, speech, event, play, or concert you have enjoyed comes to you courtesy of the:
- stage manager
- props person
- lighting operator, lighting designer
- deck and master electrician
- spotlight operator
- sound technician, sound designer
- riggers/fly operators
- wardrobe, makeup, wig creator/fitter
- truck loaders
- front of house staff
- concession staff
- camera operator(s)
- assistants in every category
- carpentry team
- and many more
This list doesn’t include the many other supporting players from the world of floral design, décor, administration, procurement…
Don’t forget that the arts are not just plays and concerts. The arts extend far into the planning and event world. Every speech, every conference, every corporate event, every product launch demands a carefully co-ordinated plan among teams of talent to create the unforgettable moments that impact you.
Photo Credit: Kelly Hofer
During this crisis, many backstage crew members are seeking other employment due to falling between the cracks of the benefit programs. It is hard to qualify if you freelance, going from gig to gig in an already struggling industry. With so many turning away from the arts to seek employment in other fields, the question is raised: what will the industry look like when events and gatherings are allowed once again?
The singers may sing, the actors may act, the speeches may commence, the weddings will be celebrated. But if there is nobody left backstage, all of this will happen in the dark. Nobody will be seen, nobody will be heard.
We don’t always remember them; we don’t always appreciate what they bring to the event, but the crews backstage are the lifeblood of the arts, planning, and event industries. When you clap for the people on the stage, don’t forget about those that built it.