It takes a community to create a great production, and theatrical performances would not exist without the time, skills, and talents of dedicated crew members. From costumes and props to sound and lights to front of house and stage management (and everything in between), crew members are the heart and soul of a production. Their creativity, passion, and hard work are invaluable to every show.
So where do we find these amazing people, and how can we get them on our team? Let’s brainstorm!
Where can you find potential crew members?
- Your drama classes! (Make it a requirement that students must volunteer a certain number of hours doing crew work in order to pass.)
- Other classes at your school, such as:
- Communication technology classes (like recording) for sound designers and operators
- Design technology, manufacturing, and carpentry classes for set pieces, props, and furniture
- Art, photography, and graphic design classes for designing and painting sets, as well as creating programs and publicity images for social media
- Esthetics classes for hair, wigs, and makeup
- Fashion and sewing classes for costumes
- Business and marketing classes for production and box office duties
- Co-op students can take on a variety of roles depending on their area of focus
- Talk with fellow teachers to see if projects could be done for class work or extra credit
- Siblings, parents, and other family members of the students currently involved in the show
- Friends from other schools of the students currently involved in the show (perhaps you can sign off on volunteer hours for them?)
- People involved in community theatre in your city
- Students from nearby colleges/universities/professional schools looking to gain practical experience (For example: For a production I worked on that was set in the 1950’s, we had students from a local hairstyling school create time-appropriate hairstyles for the students in the show and teach the students how to do them on their own.)
How can you recruit crew members?
- First and foremost: Ask! Get out there and ask people to help out. Speak to students in person during class and on breaks. Send an e-blast in your school’s newsletter. Post on your school’s social media accounts. Post flyers on your school’s bulletin boards.
- Get students to help recruit crew members. They are your best resource for meeting more great students. Use the recruitment reflection exercise below to get students involved in this process!
- Offer extra credit, letters of support/letters of reference, or sign off on volunteer hours to students who work on productions.
- Reach out and make connections with drama teachers at other schools and members of community theatre groups.
- During auditions, include a crew recruitment note in your audition information sheet to see if students are interested in crew roles. (Make sure not to make students feel like being in the crew is a consolation prize if they are not cast in the show. Emphasize the importance of the crew roles and how essential they are to making the show happen!)
- Check your personnel files and reach out to students who have worked on past shows.
- Does your city have an online theatre network? If so, create recruitment posts. For example, in London, Ontario, there is a Facebook group called “London Downtown Theatre Online” and a website called “Theatre in London,” both of which are fantastic for advertising local shows as well as recruiting potential volunteers. If there isn’t a similar network in your city, then create one!
- Get student actors in your show to assist with crew tasks. Actors can help in a multitude of areas: helping with creating/finding costumes and/or props, scenic painting, and publicity for starters. There’s nothing wrong with student actors taking on double duty.
- If students can’t commit to coming to rehearsals but still want to be involved in the production, give them tasks that they could work on at home or during spare periods at school. For example, a student interested in costumes may not be able to help with dressing actors during the entire run of the show, but perhaps they could do a smaller project such as sewing one costume at home, helping with costume laundry, or hot-gluing gemstones on a crown. Or, a student who is interested in marketing could create and pre-schedule a series of Facebook and Twitter posts to advertise the show. Think creatively and delegate jobs to as many students as you can.
Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer, and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. Explore her blog at www.kerryhishon.com.