Let there be spotlight

Have you ever worked in a booth or done other theatre tech? Tell us here!

The name Booth has quite an intense theatrical history: Its the surname of famed 19th-century thespian Edwin Booth, who has a Broadway theatre named after him, and his less successful actor brother, John Wilkes Booth, whose most famous act in a theatre was assassinating President Abraham Lincoln.

But the word booth is a bit less dramatic. It’s where lights, sound, backstage communication and other technical elements are controlled during the performance. In short, the show can’t go on (not smoothly at least) without all of the hard work that goes on inside that little area.

You’ll often find the stage manager hanging around the booth, coordinating with the board operator, who gets to manipulate those cool-looking levers that control the placement and intensity of the lights on stage, the volume of the microphones and all the other things that help make an actor look and sound good (or not). That’s why performers like to stay on the good side of the booth staff–especially in big budget musicals with lots of moving parts. If you’re in Phantom of the Opera, you want to make sure that chandelier doesn’t fall on you.

So the next time you give a standing ovation, remember how much the guys in the booth contributed to the success of the show. They may be the ones responsible for the spotlight but it’s rarely shined on them.

Raven Snook

This video was made by Theatre Development Fund.

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Theatre Development Fund is the nation’s largest not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts. Through a variety of programs and services that promote education, access and conversation, it ensures an enduring appreciation of and engagement with live theatre. In addition to operating the TKTS booth in Duffy Square and the satellite booths at South Street Seaport and in downtown Brooklyn, TDF’s theatre education, accessibility, affordable ticketing and audience development programs help to make the unique experience of theatre available to diverse audiences while supporting New York’s theatre industry. Since it was founded in 1968, TDF has provided over 80 million people with access to performances at affordable prices while returning over $2 billion in revenue to thousands of productions.