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Produced by National Arts Centre Théâtre français
© Bernd Uhlig
Table in a props workshop.

Theatre professions

Appears on the stage to play a character in the acting style chosen by the director. The cast begins by reading the play aloud together, each one identifying the major concerns of the play, and his character’s motivations and relations with the other characters. Once an actor has learned his or her lines, he or she searches for the character’s “voice,” analysing the intonations, vocal nuances and the rhythm of the lines. Actors build their characters throughout the rehearsals and by the end each one’s script is marked with notes for the entire show (including blocking, gestures and stage actions, known as “business”), rather like a musician’s score.

Person responsible for managing the company’s budgets. In conjunction with the artistic director, plans and supervises the company’s artistic productions to ensure they are viable and that the production develops as it should.

Negotiates a performer’s contracts with theatre companies. Counsels the performer in career management, providing administrative, legal financial and sometimes even artistic advice.

Artistic Director
Artist (often an experienced director) whose vision and chosen theatrical process constitute the core of a company or a theatre. Provides a sense of direction, suggests the plays to be produced during the season. Coordinates the various productions, hires directors, helps choose the actors and designers and sees that the theatrical project is developed in the best possible conditions. Works with the Administrator on building the theatre’s audience, the subscription or season-ticket campaign and on fundraising. Speaks for the company to the media, the artistic community and the audience.

Assistant Director
The director’s right-hand person, whose responsibilities vary greatly. Very often sees that rehearsals run smoothly, setting the rehearsal schedule, taking notes, giving prompts. Sometimes contributes to artistic decisions.

Assistant Stage Manager
Technician in charge of the wings and the stage during the performance. Sees that all properties are in place, cues the actors’ entrances and coordinates the stagehands’ activities.

Board of Directors
Group of people who administer a company and assume legal responsibility for it. A company is a long-term project founded with goals and priorities, for example to stage new plays. This main purpose guides the board’s decisions as it plans activities, manages the finances and staff.

Box Office Staff
Takes care of ticket sales and season tickets at the theatre’s box office. Also provides audience members with any information they may need.

Stages any dances and is sometimes responsible for all the movement work in a production, including stylization of gestures, stage movements and interactions between actors.

Communications Director
Responsible for a theatre’s relations with the media and the public. Supervises promotional activities and the design and distribution of advertising material (posters, press releases, invitations). Coordinates the marketing of productions, fundraising and campaigns for sponsorship. Also responsible for subscription campaigns.

Composes the music for a play or musical comedy and writes the scores for the different instruments. Also oversees recording of the music or the musicians’ performance of it during the run.

Costume Designer
Designs the costumes. Does research, holds discussions with the director about the interpretation of the play, the historical period, the universe to be created and the characters; provides pictures and sketches. Works with the actor in building the character and suggests elements that influence the actor’s work, like high-heeled shoes or a cane. After the design work is done, provides colour sketches often with swatches of material attached. Then sees that the costumes are produced (made in the workshop, bought or rented) and supervises the fittings.

Journalist who reviews various theatrical productions, reporting his reactions, impressions and comments. As well as summarizing the play and outlining the director’s concept, ideally should strive to analyse and understand the artistic process chosen by the creators.

Diction Coach
Diction specialist who directs the actor’s vocal work, particularly for scripts in verse or for characters with foreign accents.

Artist responsible for bringing the entire production to completion. Proposes an interpretation of the script which serves as a guideline throughout the entire creative process. Responsible for transposing the script to the stage. Chooses the actors and directs their interpretation. Beyond giving indications about voice, eye contact and blocking, the director’s role is to feed the actor’s imagination. To ensure that the production presents a coherent artistic whole, makes choices and highlights some things at the expense of others. Guides the designers in creating the scenic universe and makes sure that the space, people, words, light and music are all moulded into a harmonious whole.

Dramaturge, Drama Advisor
Works closely with the director, discussing ideological and artistic questions raised by a theatrical project. Often responsible for preparatory work on the script (analysis, documentation, adaptation, translation). As a discerning observer, may be asked to lead seminars and encounters with the audience, or to write program notes. Within a theatre or company, acts as literary advisor and contributes to discussions about programming choices.

Prepares the costumes, helps performers get into and out of them and does emergency repairs.

Fencing Master
Specialist in armed fights. Stages duels and teaches the actors the basics of fencing and sword-handling.

Fight Coordinator
Working with the director, stages any fight scenes in a show. Directs the actors and teaches them the fighting techniques they need; sees that their movements are stylized.

Stagehand who shifts set pieces raised or lowered from the flies (above the stage).

General Manager
Responsible for management and programming of a theatre’s productions and activities. Coordinates the teamwork between the artistic, technical and administrative staff.

Makes and applies or attaches hair pieces (false beards, wigs). May also dress or cut the actor’s hair.

Head Flyman, Head Setbuilder/Painter, Senior Electrician, Box Office Manager, Stage Crew Leader, Senior Soundman
These different members of a theatre’s production team work in the shadows to make sure that the work is done as it should be in the house, the wings, the set workshop and the front-of-house (where the audience comes in). They each head a team in their respective departments. They organize and coordinate the various phases of the work, seeing that each sector performs its tasks on budget, on schedule and in the proper order. They also make sure that the equipment is in good condition and that safety standards are respected. They rely on their professional experience, technical knowledge and leadership to avert potential problems, deal with unexpected occurrences and supervise the technicians throughout the production.

Host Theatre
Person, theatre or company that facilitates presentation of different artistic productions by providing the producers with a venue or a theatre. Takes care of organizing the performances, promotion, box office and front-of-house. For example, the Maison-Théâtre hosts productions intended for young audiences.

House Manager
Responsible for safety concerns and ensuring that performances run smoothly. Supervises the box office, bar, ushers and maintenance staff.

Lighting Designer
Playing with light and darkness divides the playing space, creates various atmospheres and gives rhythm to the performance. To create these effects prepares a lighting plan showing the location and type of lights, gels (colours) and gobos (screens or silhouettes). Then supervises the crew hanging the lights and adjusting the intensity of each effect.

Lighting Person
Technician who runs the lighting board during performances. Assists the designer when the levels are set and programs each effect into the board.

Multimedia Designer
Integrates image technologies (projections, videos, holograms) into a production to evoke places, characters or events.

Makeup designer
Teaches the actors how to alter their faces to suit their characters and suggest personality, health and state of mind.

Writer who tells a story by creating characters that live and speak. Usually works alone, producing several versions, often re-writing them in-light of comments from someone who has read the play. Then submits the manuscript to a theatre or a company that is likely to stage the play or present it in a rehearsed reading. Words are the playwright’s raw materials: they reveal the stresses among the characters and further the action. Tone, rhythm and the type of speech are carefully chosen to build the world in which the play is set. The themes examined and the style of writing express a vision of the world. Writing is having your say!

Press Officer
Responsible for contacts with the press and the other media, produces press kits, organizes interviews and chooses the photographs to be released for publication.

Person or company that invests the funds, hires the artists and technicians, and assumes the financial risks to stage a theatrical production.

Production Manager
Responsible for the general organization of a specific production. Mandate also includes negotiating contracts with artists and technicians, managing financial resources and planning the production schedule. Coordinates the work of the various teams, seeing that budgets are respected and deadlines met.

Props Master/Mistress; Properties Designer
Searches out, makes or alters the properties (“props”) needed to dress the set or further the action. Works with the set designer and the director so that the props fit into the overall conception of the production. Also sometimes responsible for taking care of props throughout the run of the show.

Manipulates puppets by hand or using strings, rods or sticks. To be as unobtrusive as possible, works behind a miniature puppet theatre or dresses in black when working in view of the audience. Uses different voices to make puppets perform dialogues, uses deft and precise manipulation to bring them to life. Often designs and builds his or her puppets.

Set Designer
Chooses all the elements in the playing space. With the director, interprets the script and creates a universe to suit the space, the period and the characters. Does historical research, produces sketches, finds the proportions, textures and colours of the various set pieces, then embodies this vision in a three-dimensional model. A technician as well as an artist produce plans, choose building materials and coordinate set construction in the workshop. The set, be it realistic or poetic, must serve the play and offer a range of possibilities for the actors.

Sound Designer
Creates the aural world of a production. Using sound effects, musical excerpts and recorded voices, develops a whole package of sound effects to create atmosphere, support the action or locate it in a specific place. Supervises the production of a soundtrack and its use in the theatre.

Hidden in the wings, does set changes, illusion effects and runs special effects machines during the performance.

Stage Manager
Technician who prepares the rehearsals (schedules and properties), and keeps “the book” up to date, noting blocking, lighting directions, sound, and set changes. Each cue entered in this book is later timed and rehearsed so that the lighting and sound effects are coordinated with the actors’ work. During performances, is in complete charge and runs the show by giving the cues.

Technical Director
Experienced technician responsible for a theatre’s equipment. Supports the designers’ work with technical advice, and by assessing the feasibility and costs of their proposals. Checks the plans, organizes the set up and striking of the set and makes sure that the technicians’ work is done on schedule, on budget and according to the collective agreements.

Helps set up and strike the sets and runs the sound and lighting boards.

The translator transcribes a script into another language. Highly familiar with the original language of the play and its historical, cultural and social context, can translate every line accurately, respecting the style and subtleties of the writing (plays on words, tones and rhythm). Unlike the translator, who tries to provide an exact rendering, the adapter uses the original script as the raw material for a new play, a modern version of a classic, or a montage of excerpts around a theme, for example. Transforms the script by making cuts and additions, restructuring or altering the story.

Actor hired to learn the part of a leading performer to stand in for that performer if necessary so that the run of the show is not cut short.

Greets the members of the audience and shows them to their seats, sees to their comfort and safety.