Stage machinist

Stage machinist article illustration


Stage machinists manipulate sets and other elements in a performance based on the artistic or creative concept, interacting with the performers. Their work is influenced by and influences the results of other operators. Therefore, the stage machinists work closely together with the designers, operators and performers. Stage machinists prepare and perform the setup, execute changeovers and operate manual fly bar systems. Their work is based on plans, instructions and calculations.

Stage machinists typically do the following tasks:

  • Collaborate with the production team, including directors, designers, and technical staff, to understand the specific requirements and technical aspects of the production.
  • Interpret technical drawings, schematics, and plans to construct and assemble stage machinery, including lifts, platforms, flying systems, and automated set pieces.
  • Operate and maintain the stage machinery during rehearsals and performances, ensuring safe and precise movements as directed by the stage manager or automation operator.
  • Inspect and test the stage machinery regularly to ensure proper functioning and identify any potential issues or maintenance needs.
  • Perform routine maintenance, repairs, and adjustments on stage machinery to maintain optimal performance and safety standards.
  • Operate computerized control systems to control and synchronize the movement of stage machinery and automated set elements.
  • Collaborate with other technical personnel, such as lighting and sound technicians, to coordinate and integrate the stage machinery movements with the overall production.
  • Participate in the load-in and load-out process of stage machinery and equipment, ensuring proper installation and dismantling according to safety guidelines.
  • Train and supervise stage crew members in the operation and maintenance of the stage machinery, ensuring adherence to safety protocols.
  • Stay updated on industry trends, advancements in stage machinery technology, and safety regulations related to stage operations.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to stage machinist:

flying system technician
stage & lighting technician
theater mechanist
set mechanics supervisor
flying system operator
theatre machinist
stage and lighting technician
theatre mechanist
theater machinist
stage mechanist
lighting & stage technician
flying operator
set technician
lighting and stage technician
chief stage technician

Working conditions

Stage machinists work in theaters, production studios, or other performance venues, often in close proximity to the stage and backstage areas. They may be exposed to loud noises, moving machinery, and the occasional lifting of heavy equipment. The work environment can be physically demanding, requiring manual labor and sometimes working at heights. Stage machinists often work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays, to accommodate rehearsal and performance schedules. They must adhere to strict safety protocols and guidelines to ensure the safety of the cast, crew, and audience.

Minimum qualifications

Formal education requirements for stage machinists can vary, but a high school diploma or equivalent is typically expected. Some individuals pursue specialized technical training or certifications in stagecraft, stage machinery, or related fields. Practical experience in theater production, stage operations, or mechanical engineering is highly valued. Knowledge of mechanical systems, rigging techniques, and control systems is essential. Strong problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and the ability to work well under pressure are crucial in this role. Familiarity with computerized control systems and automation technologies used in stage machinery is also advantageous.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Stage machinist is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Stage machinist career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to stage machinist.

automated fly bar operator
scenery technician
followspot operator
video operator
video technician

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of stage machinist. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of stage machinist with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

mask maker
video designer
puppet designer
programme funding manager
technical director

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of stage machinist.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of stage machinist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

ISCO group and title

3435 – Other artistic and cultural associate professionals

  1. Stage machinist – ESCO
  2. Featured image: Photo by Raúl Nájera on Unsplash
Last updated on July 10, 2023

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