stagecraft n : skill in writing or staging plays
- The skills of the theater.
- To be a professional actor you need to learn stagecraft.
- A specific skill of the theater.
- Lighting is a very technical stagecraft.
Stagecraft is a generic term referring to the technical aspects of theatrical, film, and video production. It includes, but is not limited to, constructing and rigging scenery, hanging and focusing of lighting, design and procurement of costumes, makeup, and recording and mixing of sound. Stagecraft is considered a technical rather than an artistic field as the focus of stagehands is usually on the practical implementation of a designer's artistic vision.
In its most basic form, stagecraft is managed by a single person (often the stage manager of a smaller production) who arranges all scenery, costumes, lighting, and sound, and organizes the cast. At a more professional level, for example modern Broadway houses, stagecraft is managed by hundreds of skilled carpenters, painters, electricians, stagehands, stitchers, wigmakers, and the like. This modern form of stagecraft is highly technical and specialized: it comprises many sub-disciplines and a vast trove of history and tradition.
The majority of stagecraft lies between these two extremes. Regional theatres and larger community theatres will generally have a technical director and a complement of designers, each of whom has a direct hand in their respective designs.
HistoryThe first document of stagecraft was medieval drama dating back to 1452 and carried on for four more years. Plays were held in different places such as the streets of towns and cities. Some were also held in monasteries. The playing place could represent many different things such as indoors or outdoors. They were played in certain places so the props could be used for the play. Songs and spectacles were often used in plays to enhance participation.
The next known major act of stagecraft was in England where they performed renaissance drama from 1576-1642. This was the birth place of the first licensed theater in London but not long after they were closed because of an outbreak of civil war. There were three different types of theaters in London - public, private and court. The size and shape varied but many were suggested to be round theaters. It was a penny admission to stand in the pit. Prices increase for seating. Court plays were used for holidays and special occasions.
French and English restoration was the next big step for drama. Stages were taxed to enhance the depth of them. Wings were arranged on each side of the stage to suggest a long perspective on the stages. The back housed a big portrait that set the scene of each play. Many playwrights were reverting back to earlier times with dated scenes and costumes. One king of France built a theater in his palace with French builder. King Charles II granted Thomas Kikigrew the right to form an acting crew and company.
After this era all theaters converted to more modern eras and ways. Theaters were more up to date and were created with better things like fake plants and better props that made the whole experience more worthwhile. New forms of theater began to emerge such as melodrama, which was a popular singing drama. Next came the well-made play. These two types of plays would prove to stand as the most popular through most of the 19th century. Along with theaters casting, staging received great upgrades and became more proficient. Many new ones were being built. By the middle of the century over 65 permanent theaters had been built in Germany. Most of these had the technology to have rapid scene change.
Stagecraft comprises many disciplines, typically divided into seven main disciplines:
- Costume, construction, and maintenance.
- Lighting, which involves the process of determining the size, intensity, shape, and color of light for a given scene.
- Makeup, or the application of makeup to accentuate an actor's features.
- Production, comprising stage management, production management, show control, house management and company management
- Scenery, which includes set construction, scenic painting, soft goods (drapes and stage curtains), and special effects.
- Sound, which can include musical underscoring, vocal and instrument mixing as well as theatrical sound effects.
- Theatrical property, or props, which includes furnishings, set dressings, and all items large and small which cannot be classified as scenery, electrics or wardrobe. Some crossover may apply. Props handled by actors are known as hand props, and props which are kept in an actor's costume are known as personal props.
- International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes: Labor union serving the interests of professional stagehands.
- PLASA, the Professional Lighting and Sound Association (United Kingdom)
- Running crew
- Samuel James Hume Organizer of the first exhibition of stagecraft in the United States.
- Sound stage
- Stage lighting
- Technical rehearsal
- Technical week
- United States Institute for Theatre Technology
- "The Blue Room" UK based forum for the discussion of technical theatre by its practitioners
- "Ukslc.org" Uk Based Sound and Lighting Community, News, Review, Chat and more...
- "Stagecraft" USA based mailing list for the discussion of technical theatre by its practitioners.
- Handbook on technical theatre
- "Stagelink" Production resources for technical theatre
- Richard Southern Collection at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection, University of Bristol
- "Roadie" Website for those touring with concerts
- "Rec.arts.theatre.stagecraft" Usenet group for stagecraft
stagecraft in German: Bühnentechnik
stagecraft in Dutch: Theatertechniek
stagecraft in Swedish: Scenteknik
stagecraft in Chinese: 技術劇場