Putting on any production relies on a large number of people both on and off stage. We welcome anyone regardless of previous experience and offer the chance to learn the necessary skills to take on any role. The list here is not comprehensive and does not include roles such as comittee members who have a vital role in keeping the society running.
There are opportunities to perform in a variety of productions both at Hertford Theatre and at our Studio Theatre, Bentley House. There are plays and play readings requiring dramatic performances, musicals requiring singing, dancing and acting and the annual pantomime which requires singing, dancing, acting and, well, cross dressing and plenty of humour. As well as full productions, there are also occasional events such as revue nights held at Bentley House.
For the junior members of the society there is a Young Idea production at Hertford Theatre every year. These give Young Idea members a chance to practice and demonstrate their abilities. Young Idea members are always welcome to audition for suitable roles in the other productions.
The director is in overall charge of the production until it reaches the theatre. They are responsible for transforming a script into a performance. They sit on the casting panel and rehearse the cast for the performance. The director also works with the technical teams such as staging, lighting and wardrobe to create the stage environment that will best suit the production.
The musical director (MD) is in charge of all music and singing and is usually also the conductor for the performances. The MD is responsible for obtaining music with appropriate arrangements and coaching the cast. The MD also employs the orchestra.
The choreographer's task is to create and teach the cast suitable dance routines as required by the production. Close liaison with the director is necessary to ensure that the pieces are in the correct mood, context and style.
This role covers many areas and responsibilities include administration and maintaining lines of communication. The production assistant will be involved with planning and production issues.
The stage manager (SM) is in overall charge of all of the technical departments. When the production moves into the theatre, the SM also takes over all of the director's responsibility. Prior to the show the SM attends rehearsals and is responsible for making sure that all information reaches the appropriate departments. During the show, they are in charge of the running of the show - they call the cues and take action as appropriate to any situations which arise. The SM has a good all round knowledge of the theatre. An assistant stage manager (ASM) can also be appointed if required.
Set Design & Construction
A lot of the scenery that we use is constructed in our large workshop facility at Bentley House. This allows us to be very flexible and use what is most appropriate for us. The set designer works with the director and stage manager to produce a viable plan of what is required. This plan is then turned into reality by a team of people. This requires woodwork, metalwork, scaffolding and painting.
Without an audience, any production is a failure. To ensure the continued success of our productions we rely on a range of advertising. This is dealt with by our publicity team who work on designing the posters, flyers and programmes and getting advertising and distribution.
The stage crew make things move. This team moves all of the scenery and assists the props team in getting items to their correct stage positions on time and as quietly as possible. This team has to work together to ensure that everything makes it to the right place at the right time.
Without the lighting team, the theatre would be a very dark place! A lighting manager usually takes responsibility for attending some of the rehearsals and liaising with the director and stage manager to determine what is required, plan the rig, arrange hire of necessary equipment. The team then gets together to erect the equipment and ensure it is working and set up correctly. During the show the number of people required varies. Follow spots are often required to follow cast members around the stage and a board operator is always required.
Effects such as pyrotechnics and smoke are implemented by the lighting team.
Sound comprises sound reinforcement and sound effects. A designer plans the setup and arranges the hire of equipment if necessary. A crew then rigs the equipment and operates it during the show. During the show tasks include maintaining the equipment, fitting radio microphones and operating the mixer console and other equipment.
Properties are a very important part of any production. The definition of "properties" (props) is quite vague - Any item or article used by the actors in performance other than costume and scenery. The props team must, with the director and stage manager, identify these items and then obtain them for rehearsals and the performances. Items are drawn from our large stock, made or hired. The props team also maintains and places the props during the show.
Every cast member requires at least one costume. These are provided by a team, led by the wardrobe mistress (or master!). Hertford Dramatic and Operatic Society has a large stock of costumes but modifications, new costumes or hiring is also required. The wardrobe team ensure that all of the costumes fit and are in line with the director's expectations prior to the show arriving at the theatre.
When the show gets to the theatre calls are given from the call desk to ensure that members of cast are on stage at the right place and time. This is accomplished by sending calls using the backstage audio relay system.
There is one moment that every actor dreads, when there is a silent audience waiting for those important words that you would say if you could remember what they were! If this does happen, the prompt is always on hand to come to the rescue. The prompt holds a copy of the script during all performances and, if needed, gives the cast a little help.
During the production everyone involved needs sustenance (especially the crew!). At Hertford Theatre a canteen is run in the green room providing tea, coffee, squash, sandwiches, cakes and more.
For all shows with junior members in the cast, chaperones look after them backstage. The chaperones make sure they are ready on time in the correct costumes, guiding them to safety in the event of a fire alarm and generally providing supervision.
Sometimes cast members have complicated costumes and quick changes, so dressers are required to help them make their appearances on stage in time. Dressers also help out in the dressing rooms, keeping costumes tidy and in good order.
Make-Up & Hairstyling
Stage make-up is very important for actors to be seen under the thousands of watts of light aimed at the stage. A team of people apply basic make-up as well as character make-up, for example ageing effects or animal features. In addition to make-up, hair styles are important in conveying character and era.
Front of House Manager
The front of house manager takes responsibility for all members of the front of house team. They ensure that the foyer and auditorium are ready for the public. In the event of an emergency, they supervise appropriate action.
Steward & Stewardess
The stewarding staff are there to show people to their seats, collect tickets and answer audience queries. In the event of a fire alarm, they also act as fire marshalls. All of this is done under the leadership of the front of house manager.
Before the show begins, programmes are sold in the foyer. A number of programme sellers are required to circulate through the audience and make sales.