Troy University’s theater department has already produced two main stage shows this school year, and another is in rehearsals.
Both “The Odd Couple” and “Little Shop of Horrors” were scheduled to perform for two weeks, and it takes many hands to put the shows on.
A big factor in whether or not these shows do well is the group of technicians who run things behind the scenes. These people all have different titles and responsibilities, from sewing costume pieces together to deciding where lights will go.
A leader figure among the technicians, often dubbed “techies,” is the stage manager — a technician whose main objective is to be in charge of communication between the director and the rest of the company on what is needed and necessary. The stage manager is present for every rehearsal, and is constantly taking notes on staging, lighting and any other details of the show.
These stage managers often have assistant stage managers to aid them with their duties.
Most of the jobs that need taking care of have teams behind them, rather than a single person. There are “dressers” who help the wardrobe master or mistress in dressing the actors in quick changes, and the lighting designer often has electricians to help in hanging lighting instruments.
The team members are often assigned their individual duties by the stage manager.
One such stage manager for Troy’s productions, Wyatt Silman, said that he came into the world of technicians because he wanted to be involved in a show despite not being cast.
“I was not cast in a show, so I asked for an assistant stage managing position,” Silman said. “That way, I was still involved.”
Because the stage manager and the rest of the crew are constantly backstage making sure that lighting, properties and sound are working well, it is easy to see how they are so often overlooked when one is watching a play.
But Silman said that there is plenty to make up for the lack of recognition.
“There’s so much appreciation from everyone else,” he said of the cast, directors and other people he works with. “It’s a great opportunity to collaborate with a director and designers to create a wonderful show.”
There are three professors on staff who work predominantly with technicians — Chris Rich, who teaches courses on lighting and sound, Mike Schafer, who teaches courses in the scene shop, and Elisa Bierschenk, who is the head of most costuming duties.
“They’re super creative and a huge help when you have questions,” Silman said.
With a stage manager, two assistant stage managers, three dressers, four electricians and a large number of constructors and painters, “The Odd Couple” is currently running in the Trojan Center Theatre with the help of nearly 20 technicians.
That is more than twice the number of characters who are being portrayed by actors and actresses on stage.
Stage productions aren’t complete without the assistance of the theater “techies” behind the scenes.