If you do not feel like you want to be in the center of attention on stage every single night, but you still like the artistic world and you want to be a part of it, you might want to consider some backstage jobs where you can exercise your talents. There are plenty of such backstage opportunities available, since the people behind the scene contribute immensely to the performance’s success, so you should be able to find one that suits you. And we are here to help you with that. We have prepared a guide to some of the most common backstage jobs that you can get, and how to get them.
Backstage Jobs Possibilities
If you have vision and you can create beautiful costumes from scratch, this might be one of the best backstage jobs for you. As a costume designer, you will have to understand the message of the performance, and create or choose costumes that best reflect it. You will work with the director and the set designer, and you will also most likely have a team helping you with the wardrobe. But your responsibilities go well over making costumes. You will have to go shopping for materials and accessories, oversee fittings, and constantly be ready to make the necessary changes.
Hair, Makeup and Wigs
The people who style the performers are a pivotal part of the entire production. As a person in charge of hair, makeup and wigs, you will have to make the performers look exactly how the writer and director have imagined. This may sometimes be challenging, especially with performances that are set in another time frame. Because of this reason, you might have to do research beforehand, and make sure you never run out of materials.
What you have to do as a carpenter working backstage at an art performance, is build, repair, or alter every piece of scenery or props involved in the performance. People working in such backstage jobs will need experience with woodworking and power tools, as well as an eye for drawing and design, in order to understand how to fit the pieces on stage.
If you are a great dancer and want to do that for a living, but you don’t like being the center of attention, you can apply for such backstage jobs as a choreographer. However, remember that this job can be quite challenging. You will have to come up with dance routines and movements to fit the performance and teach the performers how to do them. You also have to be able to adapt to any musical style out there, which is not an easy task.
“What you don’t see backstage is what really controls the show.”
– American actor Alan Alda
If you are good with accents or dialects, you might want to put that talent to good use by looking for some backstage jobs as a dialect coach. The job of a dialect coach is to teach the performers how to adopt a certain accent or dialect, in order to offer a believable performance. Since you will basically be a teacher, you will have to do research beforehand, come prepared with notes, work one-on-one with performers, and even attend rehearsal and give advice.
Your job as a lighting designer will be to make the lighting give out the feel of the performance. By working closely with the director and the set designer, you will have to familiarize yourself with the material of the performance and suggest the best lighting option for it.
In terms of backstage jobs that require talent and creative handiwork, being a props manager is probably one of the best ones. What you will have to do is take care of the props, alter them accordingly, or repair them if something happens. You have to make sure there are props available for any performance, and order new ones when they are needed.
As a set designer, you clearly have to have a lot of vision. You need some sort of background in art and design as well. The job is not easy, since you have to take the director’s vision and turn it into something concrete. You will have to envision how every single part of the performance will look on the set you designed, and build models of the set. This kind of work involves you collaborating with almost every member of the backstage crew, so you will also need excellent people skills.
“Backstage life is terrific training for an actor, seeing shows from the wings.” – Alan Alda
A sound engineer has to make sure that the music, speech, and sound effects are properly heard, that they convey the message of the performance, and that they are synchronized perfectly. For this backstage job, you need a knowledge of technical equipment, since it is mainly a technical job, but you also have to be creative, since you have to find, create, and choose certain sounds to be used in the performance.
There are a lot of performances that require special effects, so there are plenty of backstage jobs that deal with taking care of such effects. You will have to be able to use things such as fireworks, smoke, dangerous machines and tools, toxic substances, and so on. That is why this is a rather complicated job. You will have to design the effects, but also make them and operate them.
Finally, the stage manager is the person who makes sure everybody else is doing what they are supposed to be doing, when they are supposed to be doing it. Basically, if you get hired as a stage manager, you will have to coordinate everybody else. Even though it is not an easy job, as a stage manager, you will be an indispensable part of any production.
How to Get a Backstage Job?
First of all, what you should know is that you don’t need formal qualifications to work in most of these backstage jobs. But if you have an interest for such work and experience working in the field, you have a big chance of getting hired. A degree in humanities or business management might also help, because there are plenty of transferable skills that can be applied to backstage jobs.
Where Can I Apply for a Backstage Job?
There are several websites where you can browse backstage jobs in your area, more notably Backstage casting, which specializes in backstage auditions as well as casting actors. Stage Jobs Pro is another website that can provide you with backstage opportunities and help you get hired. All you need to do is check the websites constantly, as new backstage jobs can appear every day. And you never know when a director might need your kind of talent.
Everything Summed up
What you need to be aware of before applying for a backstage job is that it isn’t as glamorous as it may sound. You will have to work a lot and be responsible, but you will also have the chance to collaborate with many talented people. And at the end of the day, when the performance is a success and you are waiting in the backstage lounge to wrap everything up, you will look at what you’ve created and feel proud that you were a part of the team.