Behind The Scene

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Death-defying dance crew, blonde alien cheerleaders, solo violinist, singers, speakers, etc.…. In the last few weeks, you could have seen all of these, with bright lights and loud music, at the main atrium at Robinson’s Mall.

The bright lights and loud music were provided by technicians, talented people like these in the photo, and except accidentally like this, you don’t see them at all. They are invisible to the audience. But all performers absolutely depend on them.

Without the sound system and music, dancers wouldn’t be able to dance, singers wouldn’t be able to sing, and speakers wouldn’t be heard. Without lights, none of them can be seen dramatically, or even seen at all, apart from the crowd around them.

It’s not an easy job for these people behind the scene. They use heavy equipment, brought in by truck. They are on tight schedules. They often have barely enough time to set it all up, and hope everything works properly.

Of course, they check it before they load the truck, but banging on the road can always cause problems to their machines. If they set up and something doesn’t work, they have to fix it right away, or everyone is embarrassed.

A lot of job requirements: you have to be strong enough to carry and load heavy equipment; you have to know what equipment to use in any situation, you have to know electronics well enough to fix or rewire things that break.

It’s skilled work, often performed under pressure.

But no college offers a training course for this, nor a degree. It’s the kind of job you learn because your uncle owns a truck, or because your best friend asks you one day to help out.

If you don’t have the skill and talent do this kind of work, everyone — including you — will soon know that and so, goodbye (but of course, we’re all still good friends).

You would think that such highly-skilled people working under high pressure would be highly paid, and in many places, they truly are. But not here.

People on these crews get the same semi-starvation wages as gas station pumpers, salesclerks, bookkeepers, and bag boys in supermarkets — bare minimum wages and sometimes less, and they’re glad to receive it.

You could argue that stage performers — dance teams, singing contestants, class valedictorians making speeches, etc., who depend on these people behind the scene, are usually volunteers themselves who are paid nothing at all. But at least they get recognition on stage and applause from the audience.

But these people behind the scene remain invisible.

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Author’s email: 
[email protected]

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