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Jul 10 2016
by Annie Herr

8 Things I Learned From Doing Stage Crew in High School

By Annie Herr - Jul 10 2016
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All guts, some glory: that's the best slogan for stage crews. We are the people who make the stage look great, who costume the actors, who deal with the technical problems and the first people to take the blame if something goes awry. Even though we don’t get the same praise as the performers, the feeling that we were key to making something amazing is a fantastic reward. Crew taught me so much about technical stage “stuff” like hanging lights, building sets and quick changing, but also a lot about myself, my friends and what it means to work as a team. Here are eight things I learned while working on crew.

1. ALWAYS Be Prepared for Disaster

In a lot of ways, my biggest job as a crew member for show choir was to organize and mind our carpet bag, a little rolling bag with everything from eyelash glue to curling irons to dryer sheets. If we forgot to put anything in that bag, disaster would occur at the most inconvenient time. Ever since, I pack my purse, my backpack and my luggage as if it is the carpet bag. Now this doesn’t mean packing everything in my room into my tiny purse, but it does mean that I always remember the essentials, and some extra just-in-case things.

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2. Be Respectful of Everyone…

So it’s been drilled into our heads since we were little that respect is important. I never understood the extent of that until crew. Respect is for everyone, from the nicest person you meet backstage to the rudest, unappealing person on your crew. You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but politeness and civility is key to interaction.

3. ...And to Everything

Respect for people is one thing, but respect for a facility is another. Especially when it came to other schools' stages, we were taught to be careful and considerate when moving our equipment and to clean up after ourselves. Respecting other peoples' stuff will, in turn, make them respect yours.

4. Lead By Example

It is hard to follow rules when the people who are in charge are not. If you ever find yourself in a leadership position, leading by example is the best way to go. In crew, this meant that the crew heads were to be silent, polite and still when the show was happening so that the others would follow suit.

5. Think Fast

The best way to sum this one up in a sentence is, “Think with your head, not your heart.” Crew is about making quick decisions and weighing the pros and cons in seconds. For example, if a costume will not unzip during a quick change, many times we would rip people out of them and fix it later so that they could still go on. Being able to solve an immediate problem without panicking is a skill I’m glad to have.

6. Don’t Take Everything Personally

Performing can bring the worst out in people. It is high stress and fast paced and can make people very rude. I learned that you should never take to heart what people do or say when they are at their worst or stressed. Being upset with my performing friends for something they said during a change or before they went on just causes more problems later. Don’t take every cruel word to heart!

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7. Think Outside Yourself

You are not the center of the universe. If you let yourself believe that you are, you are going to struggle when someone tells you that it isn’t true. Put other people ahead of yourself, like the crew with the performers, and they will give an equal amount of effort to help you.

8. Take Pride in Small Victories

The show choir crew this year won at almost all of our competitions, so there was a lot of glory and some shiny trophies for us, but typically we go unnoticed. Similarly, in life, you don’t get a trophy when you do something well. Learn how to be happy with your accomplishments without the validation of a reward or praise. Learn to find victory in cooking yourself a healthy meal, waking up at the first alarm or reading through a whole book in an evening. Celebrate your own personal milestones without being told you did well.

Lead Image Credit: Unsplash

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Annie Herr - Ohio University

EIC for FreshU Ohio University

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