Lighting and Sound
Sound has long been recognized as a strong influence of mood. Used correctly, it can add greatly to the atmosphere in a play.
A chat with the director soon tells you what sound and music effects are needed for the play. If you are lucky, these will exist in the wide range of pre-recorded sound effects that are available on CD or MP3. If it is obscure then you will just have to record your own (something that we have resorted to on more than one occasion).
Delivery of the effect is simple isn't it? - just play the correct effects as demanded by the script. Well, no it isn't always that simple. Like the lighting plot, your cues may be from a line in the script or visual (and don't expect all lines to be said in the order that they appear in the script - if they are said at all!). Lights and sound may have to work simultaneously, a practical effect or set (or costume) change to fit with your effect may need to occur requiring a signal from backstage.
Lighting plays a very important part in stage productions and, just like sound, can enhance the mood of a scene, or completely ruin it.
To start with, like the sound effects, you need to talk to the director to find out what sort of lighting they have in mind. This can range from simple 'on at the beginning, go to the bar, come back an hour later and turn them off at the end' type plays through to complicated multiple effects where you sometimes wish that you were an octopus. Once the concepts have been agreed, it's time to think how you can become a miracle worker. At the Oasthouse, this is often quite challenging because of the small size of the stage, the nearness of the audience and the limitations of the lighting stock - but you soon learn to become inventive and adept at electrical wiring! After watching a couple of rehearsals you soon get to know the actor's movements on stage, and position of furniture. This latter observation is important if the play calls for any practical props (for example, working table lamps).
Rigging the lights is the next challenge. This involves climbing a ladder and hanging the lights or moving the ones already there to where you need them. This is something that should never be done alone for obvious Health and Safety reasons.
During a performance, the job of Lighting Operator is to follow the script and ensure the appropriate settings occur at the right times. Like the sound effects, this is often simple but you must remain alert for the 'missing half-page of script' syndrome that sometimes affects actors. Fortunately, the Oasthouse has a lighting system that can be programmed to store preset scenarios and therefore it is often only necessary to move one or two sliders simultaneously.
If you are interested in lighting or sound then just get in touch with someone who is already involved and arrange to watch them for the production and learn the tricks of the trade. All are welcome as long as you have common sense and commitment. Both roles (which are often combined at the Oasthouse except for particularly difficult plays) provide challenging and interesting opportunities which can harness both technical and artistic abilities.