AUSTIN — The Bass Concert Hall at the University of Texas just turned 40 years old.
Stage supervisor Conrad Haden knows every nook and cranny, as well as every twist and every turn. Haden often works about 50 feet above the stage. He’s been working at the theater since its beginning.
“You learn carpentry, you learn metal, you learn engineering, computer programming, all on the fly,” said Haden.
Haden also works the fly system above the stage. It consists of a bunch of ropes and weights that raise and lower lights and scenery. So during a performance the backstage crew gets to perfect their own performance.
“When a red light comes on, it means stand by. When the green light comes on it means go, and it means pulling the rope where you’re supposed to be pulling it to, ” said Haden.
It also means making major changes, like installing a big door above the stage, like when a certain Broadway show comes to town.
“That was part of the building modifications for Phantom of the Opera. We had to have access to front of house from backstage for some of the chandelier components, the motors, and whatnot,” said Haden.
He says when a big show moves in, it's controlled chaos backstage there are so many people, moving parts, and each person has a role to play. During the show, Haden refers to a rundown that tells the crew what to do.
“This is a list of fly cues that you are handed four or five hours before the show. So like raise and lower scenery, raise and lower lights, what time it happens, how long you have to do it.”
As stage supervisor, it's Haden’s job to make sure what goes on behind the scenes is well-scripted and well-rehearsed. Because, he says, the performance seen on stage is only part of the show.