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Show Calling & Direction

Mickey on a piano- show calling - conductor

Show Calling & Direction

Show calling or calling a show is sometimes referred to as the Technical Director. However this is not to be confused with the person in charge of Technology & Audio Visual Equipment. An event producer or event manager works hard to bring together all the elements of an event.

Events have become increasingly complex with ever evolving technology, and ever decreasing timelines and budgets.  Every event is like a show or movie. There are many moving parts to the event which need to be managed and directed. This may require a qualified “Show Caller” to assist the event manager.

Even with a great detailed run sheet, the show or event still needs someone to direct the many “actors” or “performers” or “players” on the night. “Show calling” is central to the success of such events. They are literally the “Conductor” of the event

Often based with a background in theatre or “the arts” a “show caller” is like a Stage Manager in charge of delivering maximum theatrical impact, during the show or event itself.

Show calling groucho

What is the Show Callers job ?

It is not the  “show callers” job to create, manage or produce the event. Who ever is Show Calling is solely about delivering the “experience” to the audience. They are seasoned and experienced in events and able to interpret the event director or event managers brief and deliver.  They are the “event conductor” to use the musical parlance.

A good Show Caller can turn up to an event “cold”, be briefed and then “direct traffic” to deliver the event.  The are the leader of the pack on “Coms” and thus need “ultimate power” during the show.

Show Calling brings all elements together

All elements of the event need to work together. Lights, music, video, performers, audience.. working together as one! Timing for scripts and presenters and when to walk on and off the stage. Who does what and when? Most importantly, what happens when someone does something off cue or out of time?

Conductor

funny mans head-event -entertainment-birthday

Show calling is about dealing with it!

When things don’t go to plan is when the quality of the “Show Calling” will be evident. Someone has to stand up and take charge. If they are good at show calling, no one notices the blunder, if not.. well…

Just like in the movies when you hear “lights, camera, action.. then “rolling”  the Show Caller controls and commands the entire show delivery experience.

Location of the Show Caller during an event

You will generally find the person Show Calling in the technical console area, control room, or “behind the desk”. You can usually spot them as the “seasoned guy” with the head phones, cursing underneath his breath. It is their job to make it all run on time and as such they are chief communicators during the show.

The need to be able to talk to ALL key players of the event during the period of the show, from back of house, technical or event presenters and performers is key to their ability to deliver.

Show calling from behind the mixing desk
Voice of god- show calling

Show Calling the voice of God

They often times become the “voice of god” for key announcements, or “triggers” in the event flow, and have to be “masters of the run sheet”

A great show caller generally developed their own version of “short hand”. Abbreviations on the run sheets are critical as there is simply not enough space to put all the cues in words.

Being a show caller is not a role that receives allot of praise from the audience or performers. Having been engaged many times in the role, it is deeply satisfying to know, “As the conductor, all parts of the orchestra came together tonight to make beautiful music”

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