As a part of our ever growing society, there’s lots of job roles that are taken on by our members as voluntary roles. When you think of a theatre society, you probably think about singing and dancing, actors and actresses, costumes and makeup. But the reality is there is so much MORE that goes into making a show than just what the audience sees onstage. That’s not to say that the actors and costumes are not important, but there are other roles that the cast hold in a special place in their hearts. You know that spotlight isn’t going to track itself!
In this post, we will be divulging into two roles that have always been demanding, yet rewarding within LADS. Our sound and lighting team are small but creative, passionate and dedicated. Teddy Allen & Connor Anderson currently head this team with the help of Nathaniel Head, and they put so much work into each and every performance they do. For a bit of exposition for you, lighting & sound is essential for every show and play that LADS put on. When you’re watching those talented singers, dancers and actors onstage, you’re studying every move, or tearing up over every line and note, you perhaps don’t think about how you’re able to see and hear them.
So a typical show night for our sound and lights team is actually really simple! This is because all the hard work is done in the weeks of rehearsing leading up to the production. This includes, plotting and planning the lights with help from the director, rigging the spotlights to sit in the right points and checking all the lighting & sound systems and desks, to see that everything is working properly. Our crew ask for a script and any known “specials” that the director would like within the show. “Specials” are lights or effects that are used outside of standard lighting to allow the scenes to be seen, these can include spotlights, lamps, coloured washes, strobe and back lighting. Once this has been done, our Lighting team rig the lights and then sit back and cue every single effect or special effect that has been asked for in the show. Our theatrical plays average at around 80 cues, whilst musicals and ShowHits are around 150 cues! Then there is that very important Tech Week, where our sound team really have their hands full in our musicals and ShowHits! The wireless microphone headsets are allocated to the cast, and numbered, then tested throughout the week as much as possible to get the sound levels right for every individual performer. Due to the nature of the venue, we don’t tend to use microphones for plays, but it’s not completely ruled out! Other than that, pre-show set up for our sound team includes checking speakers, and levels for backing tracks, any sound effects (and we have quite a few) and atmospheric noises for the various plays we have put on. It’s all very technical! It’s probably the week where things get changed and changed again, as the first time the cast and Tech crew work together is usually right before the show, where we have to squeeze in as much tweaking as possible!
Another thing the guys are usually responsible for is making sure the pre-show lights and sounds are set before the audience even leave their house! A nice mood lighting set for our lovely audience, as well as the responsibility of turning car parking lights on, and some light background music in the auditorium. Every detail is thought of by our Sound and Lighting team!
However, there are a couple of stressful moments within the shows and plays, mostly the beginning of the show, and the beginning of the second act. This is when all systems are go and as our audience settle into their seats, and our cast and crew backstage move into position, it’s go time for our Sound & Lighting team. It’s all about the perfect timing! The auditorium lights are lowered, which helps our audience get excited for the opening of the curtains at the beginning of the production, however we don’t want this to be too early as we don’t want all those people sitting in the dark for too long! The radios are on between our Backstage manager and our Lighting and Sound box, so everything runs smoothly and the cast and crew are ready to begin. This can be stressful as our lights are the first impressions the audience receive of the show, and without our Sound crew prepped, the audience wouldn’t hear a thing and the cast might miss their all important cues!
Luckily once the show has begun, everything usually runs smoothly. Due to the modernisation of technology, and how much it has advanced, LADS has desks that have all the lights and sound pre-cued. All those weeks of practising, tweaking and refining will have paid off with the perfect mix of lighting and sound cues (depending on the production). However, this doesn’t mean our team can just relax and take a snooze! They’re following the play or show down to the letter, incase of any unexpected surprises! Well, this is live theatre afterall!
Our Lighting and Sound crew are extremely hard working, and although they would say that they don’t get nervous on show nights like the cast do, it’s still nerve-wracking to see what the audience will think of our lights, sound effects and music! Nevertheless, the guys work solidly and are there start to finish in many ways. It’s a team effort and they all help each other out to get the job done, and then sit back and admire their handiwork on that opening night. So next time you get to visit The Shed to witness a LADS production, you’ll know exactly who is bringing you that anticipation and excitement just before the curtains open!
A big thank you to Connor Anderson, Teddy Allen and Nathaniel Head for providing so much information, and always being a credit to our team.