At Sheffield Theatres we pride ourselves on demystifying how theatre works and making our industry a welcoming and diverse place, where talented people from all backgrounds feel they can reach their potential. Here’s a short guide to some of the different creative roles available in theatre.
The director is responsible for creating the vision for the show. They work to research and develop the initial concept for the production and then continue to work on this with the designer, lighting designer, sound designer and many more members of the creative team. They are a main part of the casting process, thoroughly auditioning actors to ensure that they are a good fit for the production. In the rehearsal room, they work with the assistant director to direct the actors, giving suggestions and guidance on their character development. They work with the creative team rehearsing, tweaking and monitoring the process until the show is ready for opening night.
A choreographer is someone who makes up the dance in a show. They are in charge of the musical staging, scene changes and dance breaks; any point of the performance where movement to music is involved.
The musical director is the person responsible for all of the vocal and instrumental components within a musical or play. They work closely with the director to ensure the music and the direction work seamlessly together. Most musical directors are freelancers and work across multiple platforms.
A sound designer is responsible for all the sound through the play, including microphones if they are being used, making sure that music fits in with the rest of the sound, sound effects and other tricks of the trade. They are often musicians as well, so many freelance sound designers build careers doing different jobs across the sound design and music spectrum.
A lighting designer is responsible for how all the lights and many of the lighting effects of the play look. They work with the director and designer to make sure that lighting and effects help to tell the story and create the right atmosphere for the play. Most lighting designers are freelancers and sometimes light other kinds of art too.
Set and Costume Designer
The designer is responsible for all the visual language of the play you watch. They work with the director from early in the process to take a concept to reality, as well as making sure the practicalities are all met: if someone needs flying, shooting or disappearing they have to find a solution. They also need to make sure that costumes tell us exactly who is who. Designers are an intrinsic part of researching and developing the central ideas of the play. They often work as freelancers and some have careers that involve them designing things other than theatre too.
A Stage Manager is responsible for the smooth running of everything that happens from day one of rehearsals through until the very last night of a run of shows. They manage props, timetables, people; they are the team members that actors and directors rely on to make sure everything is in the right place at the right time. In a large scale play there will often be a stage manager, deputy stage manager and assistant stage manager, all with their own jobs to do, but with ultimate responsibility falling to the stage manager. Stage managers often train at drama schools and work freelance, but in larger theatres there are sometimes full time stage management teams working for the venue.