What We ACTually Do Here: A Day in the Life of A.C.T.'s Production Fellow

By Lavine Leyu Luo (罗乐瑜)

Ever wonder what goes into the making of a show? What decisions are made before the reviews get rolling? What steps are taken to get the cast onstage, in front of a fully constructed set, wearing well-designed costumes, and accompanied with stunning visual and sound effects, all working together to bring the story to audience hearts?

The Production Department makes that happen; we’re the master cooperator that helps realize all the artists’ visions onstage. Our responsibilities range from small tasks, such as purchasing cough drops for the cast, to really large tasks—ensuring all aspects of production are efficient and safe, keeping everyone onstage and offstage alive and intact. There are so many small but essential details that need to be completed before a show can open. It’s only when the audience doesn’t notice any of these things that we know we’ve done a good job.

A.C.T.'s Production Department in the Strand lobby.
As the A.C.T. Production Fellow, I get to observe and participate in the production process from the first row, front and center. I was there when the Props Department gathered hundreds of empty liquor bottles for Sweat. I was there to test the traveling Grand Canyon walls for the Men on Boats set. I was there when we poured two tons of vermiculite (a mineral that looks like sand) all over the Geary stage for Seascape, and I was also there when we finally raised the raked stage after putting down hundreds of maple panels for The Great Leap.

Those same maple panels swelled up to different shapes and sizes when they traveled from Canada (where our sets are originally constructed) to California, which meant we had to trim each one individually to fit our stage. We couldn’t have anticipated that, but we handled it—just like we did when the projector rigged in the house arrived weighing 300lbs, and when a 20-foot curtain track ended up costing us nearly $1000, and when skipping an automation cue made the stage explode. No matter how much you learn in school, you’ll always encounter new problems on the job, and the learning process will never be easy. All of us in the Production Department have been through a good number of mistakes and failures, but those have become the experiences strengthening our toolkits. For me, that’s what it means to work in production: always learn, always fix your mistakes, and always joke about it afterwards.

Lavine Leyu Luo (罗乐瑜) is the 2018–19 A.C.T. Production Management Fellow. She is a proud alumna of University of Illinois’s stage management program. She has toured the US as an assistant stage manager and an assistant company manager, and she’s toured China as a tour manager of musicals. She is excited to continue her theater adventure in China after this fellowship.

Interested in A.C.T.’s Fellowship Program? Applications for the 2019–20 season have been extended through April 15. Click here to learn more!

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