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Who’s who in a creative team?

Know your director from your stage manager? Read all about who’s who in a theatre creative team with us.

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

While the West End may give birth to acting stars, it’s not just the talent on stage that needs to be recognised. What you see on stage wouldn’t be possible without the input of a theatre creative team.

Who makes up a theatre creative team?

If you want to know the difference between set design, sound design and light design, as well as what makes a producer, then you’ve come to the right place. Read all about who’s who in a theatre creative team with us and we’re sure you’ll look at future productions in a different light.

What is an author?

The author is the person who wrote the production, typically credited as writing the “book”. For some productions, the author may not have written the production, but could be either the author or creator of a story which has been adapted for the stage.

For many shows, there may be co-authors who have worked on the musical together. Here’s just a few names of the classic and contemporary authors of productions currently running in London. Examples include Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, who co-wrote the original story for The Book of Mormon. Irene Sankoff and David Hein, who wrote Come From Away and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote Hamilton were both inspired by real events.

What is a director?

A director oversees everything that happens on stage, from how the characters are portrayed and work with each other, as well as deciding how the overall vision of a show is conceived to ensure a cohesive production is created where everything blends into one another.

Directors have to liaise with everyone in the creative team for all aspects of a show to come together, but a show that is directed well will often scoop up many awards. Famous directors include Jamie Lloyd, Marianne Elliot and Trevor Nunn.

What is a dramaturg?

Although they may not feature as part of a theatre creative team in every production, a dramaturg assists the director and producer by ensuring that each part of a show is historically accurate to the time period by consulting with authors and researching around the historical era.

What is a producer?

A producer is in charge of planning and coordinating all aspects of getting the show to curtain up, as well as maintaining the smooth running of a production while it is open. Producers could be the venue that is holding a show or an individual that runs a production company themselves, however they will perform similar roles to ensure that all members of a theatre creative team are supported.

What is a choreographer?

A choreographer devises and creates the dance routines that feature throughout a production. If a show does not have lots of dance numbers, a choreographer may also assist with the stylisation of scenes and moments within the show, where controlled movement is necessary. Award-winning West End choreographers include Kate Prince, Drew McOnie and Stephen Mear.

What is a musical director?

A musical director is in charge of conducting the orchestra as well as those who may play an instrument during the show. They will also liaise with the director in order to make sure that the music is conducive to the atmosphere that they would like the production to have. Overall, it is the musical director’s job to ensure that the music and backing gives the right mood to a show and does not distract from what is happening on stage.

What is a lyricist?

A lyricist will write the song lyrics for a musical. Although a lyricist’s job is mostly complete before a production, a lyricist may have to alter specific lines in songs in order to fit with current affairs, as well as musical lines that may be out of date. This is often the case with The Book of Mormon, where some parts of the text are changed to reflect updated references.

What is a scenic designer?

A scenic designer will ensure that the vision of a show is reflected accurately through the set. Whether they are sourcing props to incorporate into the production, or assisting how walls and backdrops should be designed to fit with the overall design of how a show should look. A scenic designer will also work with the props team to make sure that the set and props blend neatly together.

What is a costume designer?

A costume designer will ensure that every outfit is crafted and designed to reflect the time period, as well as considering the movement that performers have to make on stage to make a breathable, wearable outfit.

What is a lighting designer?

A light designer’s task is to ensure that the lighting fits with the atmosphere of specific scenes, conjuring up the light and darkness that moments in shows may require. When creating the light maps for a production, they have to make sure that the lights are responsive to the setting, as well as consider the safety of performers without blinding anyone in the audience.

It’s also the job of the lighting designer to be in charge of the lights for every production, and requires a steady hand to be there to help recover what’s happening on stage in case the slightest thing goes wrong.

What is a sound designer?

A sound designer will integrate the auditory parts of a show, by ensuring that the sound levels reflect specific songs, scenes and moments within a show, as well as making sure that the cast sound at their optimum on stage.

Sound designers are able to incorporate the latest audio technology into devising soundtracks for the show, and may also have a close relationship with the orchestra to ensure that live music is not drowning out the performance on stage.

What is a stage manager?

Stage managers will make sure that everything that happens during a production runs smoothly. They are responsible for lighting and other technical arrangements that need to be considered throughout a performance, by making sure that sets are brought on at the correct time, as well as making sure that cast members are ready and waiting in the wings before they need to go on stage. A stage manager will also have assistant stage managers, supporting the backstage workings of a live performance.

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