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First, the TECHNICIANS' BIBLE ... couldn't leave that one out :))

And secondly, an American stagehands' trade-union video produced by the first stagehands' association formed in the USA back in the 1800s. It's short, it's good, and it shows glimpses of technical backstage work being carried out along and around Broadway, New York. ps it doesn't seem to work in Firefox, only in Internet Explorer.



First, make-up design ... here's a handy face template to download and print out ... use it as a tool to help design / teach others each character's face design !
A big "Thanks!" to Theresa Cook of Matthew Humberstone School for this !

Lorna (at Peterhead Academy) suggests:
  • http://www.facepaintshop.co.uk/ - "and cheap!"
  • http://www.snazaroo.com/ - "Good for tips but you'll find they're expensive and you might want to buy elsewhere."
  • http://www.airbrushbodyart.co.uk/ - "These guys have a really cool new bodypaint stuff that can either be sponged or airbrushed on. I've never used it but it looks pretty cool."
  • http://www.amazingfaces.co.uk/ - "This woman doesn't have online ordering. You have to e-mail her and bank transfer or post a cheque but she has some really unusual products like UV face paints (and they do work). She was really helpful and rushed an order for us last year. A little more expensive but for the special bit of make-up, totally worth it. She also does face paint classes so check out the website."
  • http://www.backstageshop.co.uk/ - "This is where I got my gold body paint from last year. You get it in gold, silver, bronze, copper, ivory and grey. It goes on so easily and you only need one coat. One bottle is enough for maybe 4 people. It stinks and my fingers were green for about a fortnight afterwards but if you check out the Peterhead Academy mini-pics and look at Zeus you’ll see the results."


Lorna (at Peterhead Academy) says "Ideas-wise, just get yourself along to the theatre. Amateur and professional productions can give amazing ideas. And get yourself along to your local builders, lumber yards, B&Q etc and blag blag blag! You'll find you can get a lot of leftover wood either for free or next to nothing. Don't forget to put the estimated cost of your donations into the budget though! You never know, you might even get a local joiner interested enough in your cause to actually help with the building. All about getting the community involved !"
She also says "For supplies, a "must own" is a ScrewFix catalogue"

Technical Theatre Ideas & Examples Scott C. Parker is a New York Production Designer, Technical Director, Theatre Technical Teacher (and sometimes a TV News Cameraman!) He has created the (American) High School Tech Production website which carries a range of teaching support material - for example "howto" pages on flats and platforms (among others). NEWS: his website has been updated and (to my jaded old brain :) seems harder to navigate. The old website is still there too, however ... you can find the link to it in his left-hand menu column.


SEW n SO FABRICS support Rock Challenge. They give a 10% discount on orders to Rock Challenge Teams plus giving a 10p in the £ donation to Rock Challenge. Email ljmacf@hotmail.com and remember to quote "ROCK CHALLENGE" on your order.

Lorna at Peterhead Academy suggests

and Lorna also suggests "Never underestimate fancy dress shops for costumes and props:" Lorna adds "Be careful with budget though when you go down this route."

Theresa Cook at Matthew Humberstone has also sent me some more useful links. She writes:-
"The following are not ebay shops although I think they do put some items on at times. (And the first two have velvet as stock items.) The third one is absolutely brilliant when you need large quantities of the same fabric, as they sell by the roll as well as by the metre
Hope this helps. I know how frustrating it is when you have a picture in your mind of the costume you want to produce but can't find the fabric you need!"

THE COSTUME PAGE - Costuming Resources Online This is a massive collection of links leading to all sorts of goodies about making costumes etc for shows. Take your time in checking out the various sites that this one leads you to ...

"Melinda's Blog" has just (21/10/2007) posted details of a website containing zillions of links to places showing details of a very wide range of historical costumes etc. The website is at milieux.com/costume/

THEATRECRAFTS.COM is a website containing lots of links to costume material websites etc.

Here's a useful collection of links (under a "History of Costumes" heading) provided by TAFE ("Technical and Further Education") in New South Wales, Australia.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art website contains details of their massive collection of costumes and costume-related material.

Huge Range of Costumes Links Tara Maginnis operates out of Fairbanks, Alaska and is highly enthusiastic about everything to do with costuming for the theatre.
You'll need to take time to explore not just this voluminous website but also its huge range of theatrical costume links and - if you ever get around to it! - Tara's Web Ring of theatrical costumiers. Keep digging (and do scroll all the way down the first page) for you may well find gems everywhere.

The History of Costumes is an online version by C. Otis Sweezey of the coloured costume plates from "The History of Costumes" published originally as a series between about 1861 to 1880 in Munich, Germany. Fascinating stuff, all of it.

Stage Settings & Costume Design Colin Winslow (UK) offers a selection of photographs covering stage settings and - of particular interest to textiles students / costumiers - some lovely design diagrams.


Creative Lighting Design (UK) by John Watson, who gives creative lighting workshops for teachers and gets rave reviews from those who have experienced one of his sessions. He brings along a "room-sized" completely working model theatre which is first assembled by your students before the lighting-design part of the day starts and gets everyone involved in a hands-on way. I've seen it in action once (at the Education Show at the NEC some years ago) and gather that it's now even better.

STAGE LIGHTING DESIGN 101 refers to an American basic course in stage lighting, and designer Bill Williams presents his version of a full 101 course here in the form of an online book, with illustrations.

STAGE LIGHTING This is a fun online Macromedia Shockwave 3-D representation of a stage with three shapes and two people on stage (or not) lit with three lights up above and one from each side. You can experiment with changing the attributes of pretty much everything there, and it's interesting :)

SELECON LIGHTING has this really very nice introduction to Stage Lighting on their website. Click on the link, and enjoy :)

COLOUR MIXING Dr Delbert Hall is an American Professor of Theatre and a Stage Rigging and Aerial Effects Consultant. The page I'm pointing you to here is a lovely little demo of mixing stage lighting: green, red and blue mix completely differently to the way they mix as paints on paper, and it would be useful for whoever's designing your lighting scheme to know about that :)

The Strand Archive is THE website for information about many of those aged dust-covered lighting units you may well have either still hanging up on the bars above the school stage, or kicking around on the floor somewhere behind all the Music Dept's abandoned gear in a cupboard to the side of the stage. Whether they're badged "Strand" or "Furse", you'll find lots of info here ... and maybe you'll be able to get someone to bring them back into useful service too.

Hope your Maths is OK :))
This one is for those lovely people who having been bitten by the Lighting Bug while helping their Rock Challenge team, then go on to develop a more serious and professional interest in the business. Enjoy ... :))

OVER-AND-UNDER CABLE COILING If you're into lighting, you'll be into cable-coiling as well. Here's a video from American Chris Babbie that shows you one way of doing it, the object being not only to have neat coils of cable at the end but also coils that will UNcoil - without knotting - for the next show, thus saving time and ... what does "time" mean ? ... yep - money :)

Show Pictures Jon Ares is a designer working out of Portland, Oregon USA. (Teachers will recognise his comments re funding - or lack of it! He has included a nice selection of pictures of past shows in his portfolio.

Musicals & Dance Pics Michael Abrams (USA) has some nice, clear, fast pictures from his design work covering plays, musicals and dance productions.


I've just done sound and lighting (yep - ran both desks :) for another day of drama involving a number of Primary schools. Some 200 pupils in total, rehearsals (separate from one another) through the morning, then all together for the first time ever to perform their play in the afternoon. Sound could be problem at one of these (loads of cues in a shortish performance) but it was all made so easy by one of my favourite programs. It lives on my little laptop, it's called "Sound Cue System" and I've long been a fan. Give it a whirl in your next school show / review / pantomime / variety night / whatever. (And no, I'm not on commission :)
ps don't forget the "Audacity" program if you want to edit your sound files ... nice program AND it's ... free :)

To hunt down a host of free / very cheap software programs for sound ripping / editing / playback on PCs / MACs and several operating systems, head over to this page. It was produced for the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, showcased at their 2007 annual conference and is really useful !

Are you working with a SCHOOL ROCK BAND ? If you are, then can I recommend - for budding sound engineers everywhere - LIVE SOUND MIXING by Aussie sound engineer DUNCAN FRY. Duncan is a real gem among writers - it's a clear and well-written quick'n'dirty guide to setting up and getting going when you've been "dropped into it", plus a whole lot more besides. SADLY the book is simply not available through Amazon (or I'd set up this website as an associate and try to earn some pennies for Rock Challenge® :) thus I fear you'll have to get it elsewhere ... perhaps this PLASA website page is the best place to go in the UK ...

For everyone involved in "doing sound" at school / college etc, another of the good guides to PA systems, sound reinforcement, band sound etc has always been a book called "The Sound Reinforcement Handbook" published by Yamaha.
I've just (30/11/2007) had news that they've revised / updated it AND produced it as a two-hour instructional DVD called "Exploring Sound Reinforcement".
This could be good ... if you want to check it out, go here

THE FREESOUND PROJECT has collections of freely-downloadable sound effects ... well worth a browse / listen ! My thanks to Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (and ex-Ryde High :) student Dan Butcher for spotting this one.

SOUNDSNAP also host a collection of freely-available sound effects.

SOUND EFFECTS have a really useful set of effects on their website.

SOUND DOGS also have a really useful set of sound effects on their website.

OVER-AND-UNDER CABLE COILING If you're into sound, you'll be into cable-coiling as well. Here's a video from American Chris Babbie that shows you one way of doing it, the object being not only to have neat coils of cable at the end but also coils that will UNcoil - without knotting - for the next show, thus saving time and ... what does "time" mean ? ... yep - money :)

Here's a fun program for those stagecrew who also get involved with sound equipment at school ! Unzip and install this sound-frequency trainer ... when you run the program, you'll be presented with an onscreen equaliser and will hear (one at a time :) a number of randomly-generated "feedback" sounds ... can you correctly guess the frequency and pull down the slider to kill each of them ? The program keeps score (and mine were abysmal :))

Anyone involved with loud bands / shows etc should really check their hearing from time to time, but it's not always possible or convenient. There's a test provided free of charge over the phone on 0845 600 5555 by the Royal National Institute for the Deaf. It's only a quick and dirty one and doesn't replace having your hearing tested professionally, but it IS still a sensible test to take. It's automated (you don't have to talk to a real person :) and will take less than five minutes so go on ... call 0845 600 55 55, answer a few very simple questions, then start the test.

Some people get bitten by the sound bug ... for those that do, here's a good pdf-format downloadable book by Lectrosonics called "Wireless Microphone Systems - Concepts of Operation and Design"


Sooner or later at school, you'll find a problem with your sound system. If the signal's not getting through, it could well be that the problem lies with your cable connectors. Enter into the magic world of SOLDERING :)
The link to a nice little video on how to do it with a small cable and plug is here ... enjoy.

ANIMATED "HOW TO TIE KNOTS" ! Designed by someone called Alan W Grogono, the website is a joy to view. Yes, at some stage you WILL find a need to learn how to tie a particular knot and when that moment comes then this IS the website to turn to first, whether you're involved in theatre activities or scouting/guiding, search-and-rescue, boating etc.

THE UNIVERSITY OF BATH (UK) STUDENT UNION'S BACKSTAGE TEAM maintain a very useful page of information that's relevant to school / college crews everywhere and I recommend a look, particularly at their safety and risk-assessment documents.

Jon Primrose (UK), from his base at the University of Exeter's Drama department, maintains an extremely comprehensive list of all those technical terms that theatre-types seem to use. It's an ideal reference for the shy among us (ie folk like me :) who want to know but were too afraid to ask. (It also open your eyes to possibilities as yet unconsidered ... eg many of us are already using periaktoi !)

If you're taking theatre over to venues across mainland Europe, then "THEATRE WORDS" edited in Sweden (ISBN number is 91-630-5666-6 and it's published by Sttf) could well be invaluable! Check which version you need here, and where to buy it from.

Arador Armour Should you EVER be tempted into having a go at making "real" body armour then maybe - just maybe - this is the place to read up on how to do it ... or send the metalworkers there instead :)

School Shows Peter Lathan (UK) is the creator of the "School Shows" website. You'll find lots of things here to interest anyone embarking on teaching drama, putting on a show, creating a production etc even though he said he'd run out of time to keep it up-to-date.

Dance Links Amy Reusch (together with James White and Jon Wright) maintains massive listings of links. There are so many that inevitably many will be dead when you click on them but it's still well worth looking. The page to go to is here.

The National Council for Drama Training has lots of pages relating to training in acting, stage management etc. across the UK. (If a course is listed as accredited at (say) the XYZ School of Acting, then don't assume that all the other courses at that school are also accredited - if they're not on the list, then they aren't.)

The Arts Council with lots of information concerning both the state of the English arts in general and also regional specifics. My link takes you direct to the funding page (worth checking out ... can you see a way in which you might get funding from here ??) but there's much more besides.

Maverick Musicals are the home for a wide range of productions suitable for everyone from Primary School through to College. Their website is very informative: synopses, cast lists, props and settings, music samples etc. Scroll right down the screen on their "Play List" option to see the full range of offerings such as "Man of Steel", "Sheik, Rattle and Roll" (Wendy has directed both at South Hunsley in past years: they were enormous successes and tremendous fun!), "The Three Musketeers", "Alice in Wonderland", "Wind in the Willows", "The Dilemma of Deirdre Dearheart", "Sheer Luck Holmes" and ... would you believe "The Silence of the Wash" ??? Stuck for a school show ? The UK Rock Challenge® website might just have solved all your problems!!

I've only recently seen one of the Edgy Productions shows ("Santa's on Strike", performed as the "nativity" play for Christmas in a Derbyshire Primary school) but it rattled along in a very satisfying way. If you're with young people anywhere up to the end of Key Stage 2 then the Edgy website - with a wide range of musicals for all ages ... "Troy Story" ... "Scrooge at School" ... "Lights, Camera, ACTION !" - is a good place to look for that magic show you need to put on and carries much of the same sort of information about each as you'd expect to find on the "Maverick Musicals" website (above:)



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If YOU have experience of choreography, costumes, sets etc., consider helping out another team in THEIR preparations.

Call Zoie or Tim on 02380 617729