For those who know me and what I do when I am not at my regular 9 to 5, you know that I sometimes I work in the theater and at concerts as a stagehand (the best description of a stagehand I have ever seen is found here.) When I lived in Rhode Island I was a member of IATSE with the now defunct local 538. When 538 was swallowed up by the ever hungry local 84 out of Hartford CT, I took an Honorable Withdrawal from 538. I did this for various reasons. I continued to work with a group closer to me, though not union.
That was years ago now, and the point of this blog is not about my history. Move forward to 2009. I am now in a new state with new exciting opportunities. I hooked up with local 417 down here in Raleigh/Durham. A great bunch of stagehands who know their stuff. I haven’t officially joined the local yet, I am still a little upset about what happened up north, but I am sure the time will come for me to chip in and be a part of the organization again.
So. After that lengthy intro, to my agonizingly pointless point. At my current 9 to 5 I am able to wear t-shirts and jeans, or shorts and sandals if I so desire. I frequently wear t-shirts of differing colors with various rock, country, and pop band’s logos on them. I am asked occasionally where I get these shirts and have I attended the concerts and isn’t this band great and that concert was horrible etc.. I don’t go into a lengthy explanation of the term “SWAG” in the industry, but I do tell them that I do stagehand work on the side and we sometimes get t-shirts from the talent for the work we do.
Now, my wife hates how many t-shirts I have and I’ll admit that I probably have too many and should get rid of some of them. (not my Aerosmith ones though!) They are “what I wear.” They come in many different colors, but mostly black as you might imagine. Black is the default color worn by all stagehands. They are not always black, though.
After you go to a concert and the houselights come up, you may see many stagehands in different colored shirts. There is a group over there in blue, a group over there in red and a group over there in green. Each colored shirt represents a discipline. One color for Lighting, one color for Audio, Carpenters and the ever popular Pushers. A “Pusher” is a stagehand that literally pushes boxes from where they are to where they need to be. I am usually a “Loader” or in Lighting. Loaders are the guys that take the boxes and load them onto the trucks during the Load-Out or unload them during the Load-In. The “Riggers” are the guys above your head, carrying span-sets and working that 1/2 ton motor that raises and lowers the lighting truss. We wear our shirts when we work so all the touring crew can tell what discipline the house crew works in.
So “What do the colored shirts mean?” Well, they mean a great deal.