It is often said that “actors without stagehands are naked people standing in the dark trying to emote and stagehands without actors are at the bar.” This couldn’t be a truer statement. But yet, many actors are unappreciative of what the people backstage do. I believe this has nothing to do with the actor’s ego. Many (not all) actors are so focused on what they need to be doing that they tend to forget about the people who work hard to make the show possible. Because of this, I believe that every actor should work backstage at least once.
When an actor works backstage they get to see the other side of things. They get to see the rest of the hard work that goes into a show. It helps build an appreciation of what goes on behind the scenes.
Not only does working backstage help you build an appreciation, but it can help with getting hired. One of my professors kept emphasizing how it important it is that we as actors get backstage experience. Many summer stock companies or small theatres will hire actors with backstage experience and technical skills than those that don’t because they are more useful.
I am an actor before anything else, but I love when I get the chance to work backstage for a show. I love being a part of the process and seeing everything that goes into it. I feel that it has helped build my love for theatre and has made me more versatile. I can think of many advantages as to why actors should get backstage experience but there seem to be no cons. Who knows, maybe stagehands should get some onstage experience too.
Photo: University of Alaska Fairbanks Department of Theatre & Film