Production Organization

As with any collaborative undertaking, it is imperative that theatrical productions are organized.  Two major components for organizing a production are staff structure and a calendar.

Production Staff

It takes many people doing a variety of jobs to mount any Theatrical Production. Explore the below descriptions of the many positions on a Production Staff. Position titles, duties, and responsibilities are explained for a typical Penn show.

Director Types

Producer

  • Responsible for and oversees entire production
  • Handles all budgetary matters
  • Oversees all publicity matters
  • Acts as liason between group and various theatre staff
  • Makes sure all other staff members are doing their jobs

Director

  • Responsible for actor selection
  • Directing of stage action
  • Consults with designers for realization of the concept of the production
  • Oversees all aspects of production to keep them in line with the concept
  • Delegates authority to Assistant Director as sees fit
  • Responsible to the Producer

Assisted Director

  • Takes Director’s notes
  • Attends all rehearsals
  • May supervise line rehearsal, blocking rehearsals
  • Keeps communication open between Director, Music Director, and Choreographer
  • Runs errands
  • Responsible to Director

Music Director

  • Responsible for rehearsing singers
  • Proper musical interpretation of score
  • May or may not conduct pit orchestra
  • Meets with Director often to discuss interpretation of score
  • Responsiible to Producer

Choreographer

  • Responsible for staging all dance pieces in a production
  • Responible to Director

Stage Manager

  • Takes blocking notes, set and prop position notes, cue placement notes
  • Incorporates all notes into prompt script
  • Makes up and posts rehearsal schedules, photo calls, etc.
  • Inspects theatre each evening before show for condition of house, safety equipment, etc.
  • Takes direct responsibility of the show upon opening.
  • Enforces director’s.blocking and staging.
  • Makes scene shift diagrams for prop placement.
  • Posts scene by scene schedule for actors’ entrances, exits, etc.
  • Calls the show, calls all cues, all set changes, all actor calls, bows.
  • Maintains phone lists of key personnel and actors emergency numbers. Phones late actors.
  • Supervises collection of valuables from dressing rooms each night.
  • Makes sure theatre is struck properly and returned to original state, including dressing room areas.
  • Signs out scripts, scores, libretti, and collects same at end of show.
  • Delegates responsibilities to Assistant Stage Manager
  • Responsible to Director and Producer

Designer Types

Scenic Designer

  • Meets with Director and discusses design concepts for production, usually several week or months in advance.
  • Reads script thoroughly and does preliminary sketches.
  • After further discussion with Director finalizes drawings.
  • Draws a scale groundplan, section and elevations of the scenery.
  • Does painter’s elevations and renderings.
  • Discusses set with Technical Director as to materials to be used, desired visual effects, special effects, etc. Revises accordingly.
  • Keeps a close check on the progress of the set construction. May or may not actually build the set.
  • Responsible for all painting done on the set.
  • Supervises final placement changes at load-in with Director
  • All through the design process, meets with the other designers and discusses color, texture, form, etc.

Lighting Designer

  • Much the same process as Scenic Designer, though later in the game.
  • Designs the lighting in accordance with what the other designers have done and with the Director’s wishes.
  • Selects types of instruments to be used, positiong, of coloring.
  • Draws the Light Plot Supervises the focusing of the lights
  • Sets the light cues for each scene with the Director.

Costume Designer

  • Many similar elemts as above.
  • Designs look of costumes after meeting with Director.
  • Makes color renderings of costume designs for Director’s approval Revises as neccessary.
  • Specifies materials to be used in construction
  • Provides fabric swatches to lighting and scenic designers
  • Supervises and is responsible for the fitting of costumes and general constuction

All Design positions are assigned by the Producer and are answerable to same.

Technical Types

Technical Director

  • Takes elevations from Scenic Designer and produces working (construction) drawings to build the set
  • Specifies materials to be used (after discussing with Scenic Designer), dimensions, special hardware, etc.
  • Checks constuction for Safety Enforces fire and electrical safety codes
  • Orders all construction materials
  • Maintains scenery budget Supervises load-in and strike
  • Ensures that shop and theatre are clean and returned to original state after production closes
  • Delegates reponsibilities to assistant (when applicable)
  • Resposible to Producer

Property Master

  • Maintains prop lists as dictated by script and Director
  • Procures said props for rehearsal and production
  • Adapts or builds special props
  • Maintains prop budget
  • Returns all borrowed props
  • Ensures the return and proper storage of stock props
  • Supervises prop tables during show
  • Locks up or otherwise ensures the security of all props at conclusion of each show
  • Secures personal props from dressing rooms
  • Prepares food for onstage use Shops for consumables during run
  • Responsible for care and clean-up of live animals within the theatre
  • Responsible to Technical Director, Scenic Designer, and Producer

Master Electrician

  • Runs lighting console during technical rehearsals and all shows
  • Supervises light hang and focus
  • With the Stage Manager runs an instrument check each night before the show’s opening
  • Replaces burned out lamps
  • Maintains cue sheets for running the show
  • Takes cues from Stage Manager during run of show
  • Supervises strike of electric equipment from set and from theatre

Production Calendar

Completed 6 Weeks Prior to Load-in

  • Production Meeting with Amanda Labonte, PAC Technical Advisor (which will include)
    • Discussion of Production Concept
    • Advising on Ground Plan
  • Design/Production Team Finalized (Producer; Director; Scenic, Costume, & Lighting Designers; Stage Manager)

  • Initial Director/Designer(s) Meetings

  • Production Calendar Drafted

Completed 4 Weeks Prior to Load-in

  • Finished groundplan and model/renderings Construction period starts
  • Complete schedules and contact lists
  • Crews assigned (all positions filled, actors for construction if needed)
  • 4 Week Production Meeting (Annenberg)
  • Tech Rider Due (VPUL spaces)
  • 3 weeks prior
    • 3 Week Production Meeting (VPUL spaces)
  • 2 weeks prior
    • Light Plot complete
    • Special FX approved
    • Trucking arranged
    • Rentals arranged
    • Sound
    • 2 Week Production Meeting
  • Load In
    • All scenery constructed, flameproofed, and painted.
    • All lighting equipment prepared/rented
    • All costumes finished/found/altered
    • Props finished

Production Meeting Schedule

Details for Production Week will be determined in two meetings with either the Annenberg Center Production Manager of the Visual Sound manager, the Technical Advisor to Student Performing Arts, the Student Producer, the Performance Supervisor, the Production Stage Manager, and any student designers for the production. These production meetings will break down as follows:

  • 6 Week Production Meeting: Six Weeks prior to load-in. At this meeting we will go over general production requirements, personnel involved, and calendar items. Attended by Producer, Designers, Stage Manager, and Technical Director.
  • 4 Week Production Meeting: Four weeks prior to load-in. At this meeting the following items should be prepared and presented.
    • Scenery: Ground plan and rendering/model to be turned in for review, comments, and questions
    • Contact Sheet: Listing all cast and crew members who need to be admitted into the theater at any time during the production.
    • Production Requirements: The company should be prepared to discuss general requirements such as sound, wardrobe, tables, chairs, special effects, and other miscellaneous materials.
      • All special effects must be discussed in advance with the Annenberg Center Production Manager/Iron Gate Tech Supervisor and the Student Performing Arts Technical Director and must comply with all existing safety codes in construction and execution
    • Production Schedule: This should be a comprehensive listing of all dates and times for load-in and set-up, electrics hang and focus, technical work, technical rehearsals, meal breaks, show calls, performances and strike/load-out. Potential problem areas will be discussed at this meeting. A detailed estimate of production costs will be based on this schedule, as will the assigning of any necessary technical staff from the Annenberg Center Technical Department/Visual Sound Technical Pool.
    • University Budget Code: A University of Pennsylvania Budget Code Number must be provided at this time in order to confirm the booking of the space.
  • 2 Week Production Meeting: Two weeks prior to Load-in
    • Lighting: Light plot must be turned in at this meeting to the Annenberg Center Production Manager and the Lighting Coordinator for review, comments, and questions.
    • Scenery: Review of the progress on scenic construction. Any changes will be discussed at this meeting.
    • Production Schedule: Any revisions or changes will be reviewed at this meeting and suggestions made for resolution of production problems.

The Performance Supervisor will determine at the time of load-in if all of the above criteria are met and if the production is acceptable for load-in. At the Performance Supervisor’s request, the production can be reviewed by the Student Performing Arts Technical Director and/or the Annenberg Center’s Production Manager.

When making a Production Calendar it is often easiest to work backward from opening night.

Production Calendar Example