Stagehands are laborers who work behind the scenes in playhouses, theaters, amphitheaters, and other settings where plays, musicals, and operas are performed. They are generally responsible for helping to build and place sets and scenery, as well as occasionally manufacturing props, and they are also tasked with changing out scenery during a performance and between particular acts. Stagehands are also found working in large music venues where they help to set up sound systems, instruments, and any stage props, and in the film and television industry they typically work on closed sets and sound stages in studio lots.
The main tasks of a stagehand typically involve a great deal of manual labor and building expertise, and they may need to have working knowledge of the basics of carpentry, electronics, and metalworking. They may work from anything from rough sketches from a set designer or art department to more involved blueprints and intricate layouts required for more elaborate sets. In addition to building sets for plays or filmed productions, stagehands also perform rehearsals of their own to practice changing sets and altering designs as required by production professionals.
Stagehands, especially those who work in dedicated music and play performance venues, may also help with more specialized disciplines in productions, such as sound and lighting. These stagehands are often expected to develop some expertise in how to best avoid shadows in lighting and dead spots and distortion in sound amplification for the theater.
Educational requirements are not strict for this position, though aspiring stagehands can benefit from a background in general contracting work and the performing arts. Stagehands should also be comfortable with lifting and carrying heavy weights and bulky set pieces. Some may be required to join a union, especially for film and television work, and most stagehands work in a theater or closed studio stage setting with irregular hours that change according to specific production schedules.
Follow designs to build, set up, store, and update sets and equipment.
Design, set up, and install lighting and audio systems, operating them in tests and during events.
Sweep, mop, clean, and organize stage, backstage and audience areas.
Transport equipment, supplies, and boxes into and out of the theater.