Backstage Basics

by: Linda Mullen, Marketing Assistant.

Ever wonder how things are run backstage at a concert or play? How did that giant set piece appear onstage in a blackout? How were pyrotechnics timed perfectly with the entrance of Beyoncé? Well, let me drop some knowledge on you and share one of the greatest tools used to make everything run according to plan: the stage bible. 

Every successful entertainment event you have attended has to be meticulously planned. Details must be thought of in order to ensure the enjoyment and safety of both the audience and crew. The stage bible, containing a wealth of information, is usually kept and created by a stage manager. Depending on the type of show being produced, content in the binder can differ. For The Works Street Stage, the main documents are stage plots and technical riders. Stage plots are drawings indicating location of instruments, performers and equipment onstage. Technical riders contain specific technical requirements such as what kind of guitar amp a band prefers or how many power sources they will need. Since The Street Stage will be presenting more than 80 performances, having other information like contact lists, band bios, schedules, contracts and stage inventory are important to be accessible. 

In order to build a stage bible you will need a 4” ring binder, a ton of tab dividers and labels. Sections should be clearly labeled and organized because backstage work is usually fast and done in very dim lighting. While a binder full of paper is not very high tech, it is imperative to a smooth show. The stage bible is only one of many tools used to keep audiences and crew safe and happy.

Linda Mullen is an emerging stage manager and theatre technician from Edmonton. She is currently in her third year of the University of Alberta’s B.F.A. Stage Management program. While her passion is in stage management, she is also a graduate of MacEwan University’s Theatre Production program. She enjoys all aspects of production and takes special interest in theatre lighting, scenic painting and drafting. Linda enjoys working in both theatre and festival
settings. In her spare time, she likes to be in the fresh air, whether it is hiking in the mountains or walking in the Edmonton River Valley. Select theatre credits include Twelfth Night (Studio Theatre), @Tension (Viral Flock), Nice Work If You Can Get It (MacEwan), Curtains and Heathers: The Musical.