Getting a performance staged takes more than the theatre company or actors who are cast in the show. In this mini-series, reporter Dana Anderson looks behind the curtain and spotlights those crucial to the success of theatre, but who often go unrecognised.
When we think about costumes we see on stage, it is rare that the first thought is the wig or hairstyle. Often our eyes are captivated by the outfit - the glitter, the colour, the accessories. However, costumes are made from many elements, including wigs and hairstyles.
Sharon Parker has been a hairdresser and wig designer for a very long time. She enjoyed being involved in theatre when she was younger, and the progression to styling was natural.
Since her roots in the industry grew out, Ms Parker has worked in both Launceston and Hobart for a mix of companies and productions. She now has a set process to work with when understanding hairdressing and wig styling for shows.
"First of all, I speak to the director. We go through the process of what they are looking for. I do a lot of research, just on what I think the era is and what past productions [have done], and ideas of what they would like," she said.
"I look at the character and then the actor ... what the character is doing, and then I source the wig. I get to the part of drawing up a plan, showing the director, and then designing."
The length of time it takes to create each wig and design is different, with some wait times pushed out due to outsourcing wigs.
"We source from wherever we can at the time ... but eventually it would be nice to build our own wigs for the future," Ms Parker said.
Wigs and hairstyling are complex, with many factors to consider such as whether the actor will do a lot of dancing, and how much volume the wig needs to have. Ms Parker said one of her biggest challenges so far had been Encore Theatre Company's production of Strictly Ballroom.
"There was a lot of wigs, a lot of changes, a lot of dancing so they had to be really strong," she said.
So what is the trick to keeping a wig together when actors are dancing on stage? No, not pins. It's cable ties. Hairspray and pins can hold a wig together, but they will not hold out under strenuous movement.
Ms Parker said wigs also had a lifespan. If they were continuously worn, and a production was doing a long season, multiple wigs would be created of the same design so when one needed to be repaired or worked on, another could be switched in to take its place.
The wig will often make the character, with Ms Parker explaining that several actors she had worked with had mentioned they felt more like the character once the wig was completed.
"When someone sees a costume, they see the whole, but there may be four or five different parts of that costume that makes the one," she said.
"I was excited for Magenta's wigs [in Rocky Horror], but we put on Riff Raff's wig and you could tell how much he loved it and it looked exactly how I wanted it.
"Often with the actors, you can see them find their character. A lot of them will say I didn't find my character until I put on the wig."
Ms Parker said she was already looking to next year at the productions she will be included in, such as Encore's production of Chicago, and felt like Tasmania was on "the cusp of something big" with the arts sector. The wig designer said she would love to go into television work one day too.
"Being backstage we are sort of like the underbelly that no one ever sees," she said. "It's such an amazing thing to be part of, and such a great team type of environment. It's sort of addictive to be backstage."
Another person who knows what it is like to be backstage is Theatre North's technical manager Malcolm Butters, who has been with the theatre for more than 19 years.
"I was looking for employment and opportunity came up ... I just started working and that was it," he said. "I wouldn't say it came easy. It's learning every day. There is new stuff that comes through every day. I was fairly inexperienced when I first started and most of my roles have just been learning on the job."
Day-to-day, Mr Butters' role can consist of anything from dealing with contractors, fault finding, and general maintenance, to liaising with companies, organising local crews and Theatre North staff, finding equipment to hire, and programing lights for the shows.
"For example, the shows I have programed for the weekend, I have a script, they tell me what they want on stage, for the backdrops, for everything else," he said.
"I think it's more interesting backstage. You get to problem solve all the time and you get to work with different people all the time. Multiple crews come through, artists come through."
If something goes wrong during a show, Mr Butters said there was not a lot he could do from his position upstairs, unless the issue was serious and caused a show stop. That is not something that occurs often.
However, the career is often an unstable one, with Mr Butters sharing that there were very few full-time jobs in the role and all his staff were casual.
"Every day is a new challenge [in the role]. There have been some challenging shows that come through. Some of the touring crews can be narky at times, but that's usually because they are on the road," Mr Butters said.
Speaking of touring productions, the sets of the Imperial Russian Ballet are much bigger than what audiences at the Princess Theatre see, due to how small the theatre is compared to others. However, though the Princess may be smaller, it is still crucial to the arts.
"I think it's a vital resource for the community. We do a lot of community shows in here," Mr Butters said.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: