Set Construction (and destruction)

Once the Designer has completed the set design and agreed it with the director and other relevant parties, the design has to be turned into a practical set. Sets range from the very simple with perhaps just a few flats or cloths to mark the acting area to very complex sets which have to be transformed several times during a performance.

Set construction usually takes place in the evenings and weekends. You don't need to be a skilled woodworker or metalworker to help as there is always a range of tasks to suit people with different skills.

A basic knowledge of carpentry is useful but, in many cases, sets are built from various ready made flats which are simply clamped together on stage and the job of the scenic artist is to transform this (often literally) blank canvas into a representation of, for example, a wallpapered interior wall.

Painting the set often involves covering large areas with a single colour so no need to worry if you don't feel your artistic skills are particularly high - speed of application with a paint roller is often just as important.

The Strike

At the end of a production the stage has to be cleared as quickly as possible to make way for the next show. This is the "strike" where all the hard work of the previous few weeks, building and painting the set, has to be undone in a couple of hours!

The strike begins as soon as the audience have left after the last performance and will continue until the stage is clear. There is always a strike on the last night and, even if you do nothing else at the Dolman, your assistance in this operation will always be appreciated.

Wear old clothes, strong shoes or boots and bring a pair of stout gloves if you have any - this will protect you from nails etc. Hard hats are available in the workshop. A good strike leaving a completely bare stage ready for the next production can be a very satisfying experience.

Stage Management

The Stage Manager co-ordinates the work of the other technical sections during the running of a play, giving cues over the headset system to lighting, sound and flying sections and liaises with other departments (props., costume/wardrobe, set design, music) to make sure the play runs smoothly. All the work for each play/show is written down in the Stage Manager’s master script.

Stage Crew

If you want to work backstage and you’re not sure where to start, stage crewing is a good place to begin. No experience is necessary, you will be involved in the running of the show and you can see what all the other sections do. You don’t have to be strong, but you do have to be quick, quiet and calm when working backstage - training will be given in anything else you need to know.


Many set pieces, cloth backgrounds, gauzes etc are suspended over the stage and "flown" when they are needed. The Dolman stage has approximately 30 flying bars, all hand operated. Flyers move the bars up and down by pulling on ropes, accessible from the fly gallery, approximately 25 feet above the stage level.

All the bars are counterbalanced so that, even if a heavy piece of scenery is suspended from the bar, it does not require superhuman strength to move it.

A head for heights helps !!!

Sometimes on very large productions stage crew are organised by an Assistant Stage Manager.

Coming Soon