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What Is a Theatrical Production?

Theatrical productions are put on by casts of all skill levels.
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  • Last Modified Date: 26 October 2014
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A theatrical production refers to a play, opera, or musical that is performed live on stage for an audience. It may refer to a comedy or drama, and is typically based off of a script or series of songs to be performed. Most theatrical productions take weeks to months of planning and rehearsal, and are comprised of actors as well as a director, producer, and crew. The crew can include sound technicians, set designers, and costume designers. For musicals or operas, choreographers, musicians, and musical directors may be needed as well. A great deal of time and effort goes into theatrical productions of all sizes.

There are many different groups of people who choose to put on a theatrical production, all the way from elementary school children to highly paid professional theater companies. Many schools will have a yearly play put on by the students, sometimes multiple plays are put on by younger children and older high school students. As much as possible, the theatrical production will be run by students, with different students acting as actors, directors, and stage crew to help them learn. Musicals are especially popular options for students because they are able to showcase many different talents.

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When a group of people or a professional company is putting on a play or musical theatrical production, they will typically begin with a script that is already written. Occasionally, the group will write the script as well as produce the play from start to finish, but this is less common. The director and producer, as well as anyone else involved in casting the play, will then hold auditions for the various parts. This is true of virtually any theatrical production, including those put on by opera companies or dance companies. Once the production is cast, rehearsals will begin and continue until opening night; costumes and sets will be designed and tested.

The theatrical production will then be put on for an audience. In most cases, there will be a charge to see any production; the charge can vary drastically depending on the experience and notoriety of the company putting on the show. Everyone involved in the production must work together during a live show to be sure it goes off without a hitch. Once a production for a play or opera is fully developed, larger theaters will often preserve its various elements, and revive the production from time to time over a number of years; even though the cast members and directors may change, the production will remain essentially the same until it is replaced by a new one that presents the work with a different interpretation.

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Buster29
Post 2

@AnswerMan- I was part of a community theater for several years, and we managed to pull off some very professional productions with a shoestring budget. But you're right about finding motivated volunteers with skills. Our main director was also trained in theatrical lighting and sound, so he took care of a lot of the technical things. He moved to a larger city a few years ago, and there really hasn't been anyone with the skills to take his place. We do much smaller projects now.

I'm always amazed whenever I attend a theatrical production in a large city. Everything looks completely professional, and they can do things on a stage I never thought possible. I saw a play about Buddy Holly, and at the very end, a bank of bright lights flashed at eye level. By the time I could see again, all of the actors were gone and a single guitar was onstage. It was like a magic trick.

AnswerMan
Post 1

The complexity of putting on a decent theatrical production is one reason why a lot of local community theater groups don't survive. Finding acting talent is not usually a problem, but recruiting backstage technicians and craftspeople can be. A seamstress might volunteer her services to create a few costumes, but that's not the same as creating costumes for the entire cast of a production like "Annie". The same goes for set builders and lighting technicians and sound engineers. They often have other professional obligations and cannot devote the kind of time a good theatrical production requires.

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