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What does a Stagehand do?

By Alison Faria
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A stagehand performs many different jobs for theater, commercials, films, and television production. The work is generally considered to be behind-the-scenes. Jobs generally include working with props, equipment and scenery and involve heavy lifting, stage setting knowledge and construction skills.

People who are interested in this kind of work usually have to be physically fit and be able to lift heavy equipment. Although much of the training can happen while working, prospective candidates need to know about the equipment and how to fix it efficiently. Advanced jobs might require previous training in carpentry or electrical work.

Props, also called stage property, consist of various small items that are part of an overall stage setting. These items can include things that the actors wear, such as hats or glasses. They can also include set props like rugs or furniture, or things that actors might use in a scene, such as bookcases or briefcases.

The job of a prop stagehand is to make sure the necessary props are where they need to be at the beginning of a scene. When the scene is completed, the stagehand usually has to remove those props, place them backstage, and replace them with new ones for the next scene. He or she might also have the responsibility of finding props for various scenes.

In television and film industries, a stagehand who moves scenery and equipment is typically known as a grip. Flats, or wooden frames for stage scenery that can be moved, are generally things a grip has to move and dismantle the most. A grip might also work with scenic designers to decorate or paint the flats.

A flyer is a theatrical stagehand who places scenery in the roof of the stage, the area above the stage that isn't visible to the audience, and then lowers it as needed. This stagehand might also work with lighting people or stage electricians, helping to set up lights and other duties.

Sometimes, a theater stagehand might also work with sound engineers to make sure sound systems are working. The sound system is typically very important to a stage production. Not only does the sound system amplify the actors' voices, but it also is used for music or sound effects in the production.

The number of jobs stagehands have usually depends on where they work. If, for example, they work at a studio or theater that belongs to a union, then jobs might be divided among all the stagehands employed there. Non-union employers will usually have each stagehand working on several different jobs.

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Discussion Comments

By anon354408 — On Nov 08, 2013

What do they wear and how old do you have to be to be an stagehand ?

By anon123861 — On Nov 03, 2010

Yes, you do whatever you are told to do. A stage hand must have a black wardrobe. It would surprise me if you have been getting paid to work a big show like that and you were only 13. We have unions, and this would not be allowed. It's dangerous work for a child, dear.

By anon101408 — On Aug 03, 2010

so what do you wear? do you have specific colours that you must wear?

By anon89864 — On Jun 13, 2010

I'm only fifteen and I've been doing stagehand work for concerts such as Toby Keith and Trace Adkins, etc., for one or two years now.

I've done bits and pieces, from load out, to set change, to putting the lights and sound up, to taking it all down.

One good part about being a stage hand is in between load in and the show or getting ready for the show, there will be time, and hour to three or four hours, when everyone is off, except for a few that they keep on. i love this, you get to lay down and relax, for so long while still getting paid.

if you have a grumpy stage manager or just lead then they'll yell when you mess up, just take it and move on, don't argue. stage hands just pretty much set up for the show, make changes during the show as far as sets, and take the show down. They fix what they can if it's needed.

i myself have done stuff from the stage work to spotlight, to running cables for sound and I've observed the sound board but have never run one.

By anon66822 — On Feb 21, 2010

Whatever they are told to do?

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