Is working backstage beneficial to a performer?

26th October 2016

img_6453A blog post by YMCA member Katie Doubtfire

Having been a performer since the young age 4 and becoming so accustomed to being ON stage meant not being able to audition for 2015’s Summer Show, Little Shop of Horrors, filled me with dread. What was I going to do with my summer evenings? How would I cope? What else could I do to help? I simply couldn’t just sit back and relax, I had to get involved somehow. LIGHTBULB moment! I’ll see how I can help out backstage!!

As it turned out, the YMCA were desperate for people to operate the lighting for the entire run of the show. However, little ol’ me had no clue how to operate the lighting desk .. At first!

My role was to operate the lighting for the entire show and give lighting cues to those operating the follow spots, a massively daunting task at first! I had to have a crash course from lighting designer, Conor Skelton, who enlightened me to the magical world of lighting effects. I can’t say I had really noticed lighting in a show before this point, but working through the show with Conor showed me how important lighting really is, and you DO notice it .. Just without realising almost.

As most of us know, us performers love being on stage! But do we really know how much work is going on behind the scenes? No. Starting to work behind the scenes really opened my eyes to the fabulous work of the technical team. Young Brad on sound, at only 13 (!), was balancing ALL head mics AND boundary mics AND live band music AND sound effects all at once whilst having to take cues from me and rectify any issues with miss – and that is just one example of the level of work the technical guys do.

Being on the ‘techy’ side for this show really also highlighted how beneficial it is as a performer to try out some work backstage, it truly does make you a more well-rounded performer, a more respectful performer and a more grateful performer. Without your sound crew – you have no mics or music. Without your lighting crew – you have a blacked out stage where no one can see you. Without your stage crew – you have no one to change set or bring curtains/fly lines/gauzes in/out. Without your costume department – you have no costumes to perform in. So why do we take these guys for granted? Your backstage crew work tirelessly to make your performance amazing. Thank them!

Try it, try out some backstage work. See what a difference it makes to you.

If you’d be interested in taking part in a show backstage, front of house or in marketing or costume, please contact Theatre Manager Graham Ibbotson at graham@ymcascarborough.uk or Productions Director James Aconley at james@ymcascarborough.uk. Alternatively, you can give us a call on 01723 374227.

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