The useable stage area is approx 25 ft wide by 18 ft deep, with 5 ft wing space either side. Whilst this may sound a little on the small side, it is always surprising what can be packed into small areas! ‘Good things come in little packages’, it’s often said! A permanent addition to the stage is a 16 ft x 4 ft aluminium decking forestage, flanked by 2′ 6″ wide treads to the auditorium floor, with side thrusts in front of each proscenium arch, accessible directly from the main stage.
The venue owns an increasing stock of Litedeck stage decks At present we have three 8 x 4 foot and three 4 x 4 foot pieces plus two sections at 4 x 2 feet. These can be used as low-level dais solutions as well as being built as an upstage band rail (standard 6′ 6″ from stage level) to provide ample room for 10 to 15 musicians during larger shows.
In addition to the main house curtains, there are two intermediate and one rear tab track, with black tabs on line 1 and blacks on line 3 as standard. There are three cloth barrels, tied off on the raised fly tower, although, regrettably, as there is little space above stage, only rolled cloths can be flown. As standard, we have a white cyc on the rear-most barrel. The Stage Manager’s corner is equipped with talkback position (as are the DSR, USR, USL and fly positions).
There is an in-house pyrotechnics system utilising professional standard Le Maitre pyro effects. Note that users will be permitted to use pyrotechnics ONLY if approved by the theatre management, and all intended use of pyro MUST be advised in detail in advance.
Available in-house effects include:
- Stage smoke and haze
- Pyrotechnics (ONLY available for use by trained and approved technicians) – Effects to be sourced at client’s expense through the theatre stage director.
- Dry ice – CO2 to be sourced at client’s expense.
For any other effects, contact the theatre stage director for options
Arguably the most important member of the technical staff – especially during any live performance – the Stage Manager is, on occasion, missed from the list of staff necessary for the running of a show.
Far from being ‘just the guy who pulls the house curtains’ the Stage manager is responsible for the overall safety of the cast and crew, as well as, well, managing the team as a whole. he/She may also be the one to set up the rest of the technical team, calling on those that he/she has worked with in the past.
The SM would be the logical interface with the NAC tech staff, in the event that key roles can not be filled from within their contemporaries.
The main role of the SM can be defined as follows:
- Safety – ensures that the performance space is clean/tidy and safe to work/perform on.
- Team Leader – if stage crew are involved, he/she will manage them with regard to any scenery shifting during the performances. Often the SM will engage the crew from his/her regular contacts.
- Pyrotechnics – it is usually the SM’s job to safely set up and operate any pyrotechnic effects for a show, though this can be delegated to another experienced member of the team as required. Note that pyro is a restricted effect, and one that will NOT be permitted unless the stage director has been satisfied that the designated operator is suitably experienced and the charges used are within the safety margins for the venue.
- The SM should be responsible, (in conjunction with the other heads of departments and the director/producers of the show) for the preparation of a full Risk Assessment (RA) of eachj individual event. Copies of the standard RA form can be obtained from the Tech Director of the Abbey, and also on-line from this web site.
- Stage Managers should be fully conversant with the fire safety and first aid policies of the theatre, and ensure he/she knows who the nominated first aiders are on the NAC staff and the show staff.
What the SM will need from you
The Stage Manager will need full details of the intended stage layout as soon as possible.
- Will there be any scenery? Will it need building?
- Will there be any backcloths? Will these need painting?
- A full set of proposed stage plans if appropriate.
- What properties need gathering/making?
- Will there be a need to utilise any in-house staging/cloths/equipment?
- Is there a need for additional tabs (curtains)?
- Are there to be any pyrotechnic effects in the show?
From the answers to these questions, the SM will be able to gauge whether a crew is needed, and if a separate props person will be required.
Not every show will need additional crew on stage in addition to the SM, but there will be times where a one-man-band won’t be sufficient to cover the changes involved in certain types of show.
The term stage crew can cover various responsibilities in a few disciplines, each of which have their own areas of expertise.
- General crew – moving scenery and set pieces about the stage between (and sometimes during) scenes. Much of this is often done in blackout, allowing the audience the perception that the scene changes out of their view.
- Fly crew – The Abbey has a limited fly rail, with three dead-hung 3-line hemp backcloth lines. The fly crew are responsible for lowering the empty barrels in during the set-up (fit-up) and hoisting them back out once the scenic cloths have been tied on. As this is an area where safety is paramount, the Abbey does not allow under 16’s to work the rail, and crew are authorised to work the fly rail only after instruction on how to correctly and safely use the lines and tie them off to the wall cleats. Fly crew may also be used on the stage floor (deck) if needed.
- Properties – or props – Props can vary from small hand-held items to tables and chairs or larger items (though there can sometimes be intense discussion over what constitutes the move from a prop to scenery!). Again, depending on the size of the show and the number of props/scenic pieces in use, there may not always be a definitive props person engaged, and the duties involved may be taken on as a whole by the SM or crew.
The stage crew in general must:
- Be aware of the general safety rules involved with working on stage, both with regard to themselves and the cast/performers.
- Be aware of the fire safety policy in force at the venue.
- Be proficient in the use of the variety of stage scenery items/rostra etc. (Guidance can be given by the NAC if needed).