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Local Stagehands and Large-Scale Tours

Danson Faraday, Jacob


Jacob Danson Faraday


Managing the audio infrastructure for large-scale touring productions depends not just on a team of touring technicians, but also on groups of locally hired stagehands. For large-scale tours, local stagehands are the backbone of any load-in or load-out, but are often ignored in scholarly and journalistic investigations of live sound. While most large-scale touring productions follow a theatre design paradigm that hides technology and technicians from the audience, they also follow a late-capitalist labour practice that correlates an apparent lack of specialisation with worker anonymity and replaceability. Administrators and technicians may be somewhat effaced on a large-scale tour, as compared to performers and show creators, for example, but local stagehands are almost always entirely effaced. In this paper, I argue that live sound studies as a discipline should attend to local stagehand labour as a critical element of large-scale live productions. I provide examples from my own ethnographic fieldwork in which local stagehands transcend the uneven power dynamics of labour on tour and an image of a faceless, unskilled, replaceable worker. I conclude by providing some strategies to include local stagehands in future ethnographic research.

Presentation Conference Type Presentation / Talk
Conference Name Live Sound Studies Symposium 2024
Start Date Feb 1, 2024
End Date Feb 1, 2024
Deposit Date May 14, 2024
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed