So you’ve got your first professional show and now they’re asking you to return a tech sheet with details of your act. Here’s a quick how-to for those a bit lost for words…
What is a tech sheet?
Starting from the very basics, a tech sheet is a breakdown of everything about your act – and perhaps a bit of further info – that a producer will ask you to complete in order for you to perform your act. It may ask for song choices, lighting requests, cues, etc and it may also ask for any info to give the compere about you act. It will definitely ask you for instructions on how to set up your act so the stage manager knows where to put your props or hand you a give key element of your act at a certain time.
A producer will take this information from your sheet and use it to complete separate information and send to staff working on their show. They’ll take all the lighting and sound cues and make up a running document of how the show works for the venue technical staff, popping in your cues in running order. They’ll take all the info for the stage manager and make it into separate sheets for them to set up your act and they’ll take all the info for the compere and combine it into a document for the compere – in run order. So let’s go over things step by step…
So, what does a tech sheet look like?
We will show you ours just to give you a rough idea. Other producers may format theirs differently – they even may send this in the body of an email or have other info that they require…
Let’s break down the info required…
Bluestocking Lounge Technical Info:
Show: [title of show]
Date: [date of show]
Performer Mobile: 12345 67890
Performer Name: Lilly Laudanum
hopefully this should be all the information you expected and there’s not any surprise change in show date! A producer might ask you for your mobile on your tech sheet as it is easier to have all the information at hand at the show (rather than searching through emails and messages) in case of emergencies. Rarely, they might need to call you.
Act 1 title: A Novel Way To Go
Length of act:
As a performer I tend to put the act I’d like to perform first as ‘act 1’ and if possible give the producer an explanation of why it’s my preferred choice of order (sometimes a longer set up is required, or a costume might take forever to get into. If your act is messy you might want to do that second so you have an easier clean-up rather than a rush to look pristine in the interval, etc.) Ultimately it is the producers choice as they will know where your acts fit best on the bill (eg this might be influenced by choice of theme or props – and a producer would probably ensure that similar props – say fans – are in opposing halves, for example) but it’s good to give them an indication.
Song title and track number:
A producer might ask for this information to make sure there are no clashes of song in their show, and to make sure there are no doubles – even if it’s a different artist. Don’t worry, they’re not about to ask you to totally re-choreograph your act, but if there is the possibility of two acts using the same song, they might request an alternative act from you (giving priority to those higher on the bill or those who have been booked for that specific act).
This information might also be used to fill in PRS for Music forms which venues hold – if you want to read about PRS, it’s In this post.
These days, a lot of shows ask you to send tracks ahead of time so the producer would have got the ‘track number’ bit. But a little tip in sending your music – change the title to your act name and your performer name, that way, when the producer receives the files they know exactly who the music belongs to and the act it is for. Just sending a track titled (for example) ‘feeling Good’ could belong to anyone and could be for any act.
If you are asked to bring CDs (as with our shows – the theatre prefer this format) make sure your CDs are freshly burned (not scratched, old and used for many shows) and are on quality CDs (usually those that are from the quid shop or similar – you can tell the quality as they are see through – aren’t the best quality for shows and could skip on sensitive audio equipment) that have been tested as an audio file. It is your responsibility to provide your own music for the show and a good idea to have back ups (some performers back all their music up on dropbox which will enable them to send anyone at any time their tracks while some bring their music files on a USB stick or simply bring extra CDs). Most theatres and venues will ask you to bring one act per CD so there can be no confusion (you might see the sound tech with a stack of CDs in show order on their desk!) But if you are using multiple separate tracks in your act, a track number is also important. If this is the case, put your tracks in order that you will use them on the CD.
Cue: (do you walk on to track or is track played when you are on stage?)
Literally the cue for when your music starts. If you walk on to the track, simply say ‘Walk on’ or if you start on stage, ‘Start when in position on stage’. The technical staff will usually rehearse these cues with you during a tech run. Sometimes there might be a different cue, eg, if you have a bit of action or play with the audience or if there’s some kind of improv or talk before, you might have a visual cue. On the whole visual cues are easier for sound techs to see (rather than complicated instructions like, “30 seconds after I’ve tickled a man’s chin and then 40 seconds of silence, can you press play?”) such as the raise of a hand or object – or you could simply ask for the track (‘Hit it, Sir!’ as Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer says).
Lighting Requirements? (do you req any specific colours / dim/fade-ups?)
If you are given the luxury of good lighting (some venues don’t have this facility) then you can create some stunning effects. You can find some lighting help here as well as descriptions of different types of lights. If you are unsure, it’s okay to put the colours of your costume down and the mood you want to create eg, my Barbara Cartland act costume is pink – VERY pink and the mood I want to create is romantic, followed by a party atmosphere at the music change. Lighting technicians love this as they can be creative. They will get to play with the effects at the tech run so it’s always a good idea to take a piece of costume or prop (big boas, isis wings, fans, veils) so that they can see how the light works with it.
Keep your lighting cues simple – for a four minute act, just a couple of cues are enough. You don’t need to have continual cues and again, a visual cue is better (like a raised finger snap if you want to black out at the end) or an obvious sound cue (where your track changes). Make a mental note of any lights you love at shows you perform at as you can always use this to inform your next tech sheet!
Also – things to bear in mind (these are in the LX help post but just a reminder) red lights cause cameras to un-focus so if you are filming your act, avoid red. Dry ice also has the same effect on any camera – making a picture look foggy, misty or blurred at best. Plus if you nee to see the audience during your act, you can ask for the house lights to be raised a little. Some performers prefer to see the audience during their acts, while some love it when darkness and blinding lights is all they see on stage! Finally, if you need the lights to dim at any point for a prop you may use (A torch, fire, led hula hoops, any other SFX you may use) make a note of it in your tech. If you need a centre spot to open up in a certain space on stage, it’s perfectly okay to mark the spot with a pop of tape so you know where the best place to stand would be – check out Flossie Small’s fawn act above! We love how the lights perfectly picked up the glitter pour!
How would you like the act to be announced? (Any special instructions for compere?)
This is the part where you can insert your punchline, short bio, and anything you think the compere would like to know. You can even give your website address so they can easily look up any info. Comperes love an easy life! Also, if your act needs setting upin some way, for example, if you want the audience to stand/ if you want to be referred to as a character rather than your performer name or if you want the compere to set the scene – and equally if there is anything you don’t want the compere to mention just in case they give away your twist, then put it here. As much info as you like!
Props required and Stage set up:
Exactly as this says. Where you want your props placed or how you want the stage set. If you are not familiar with ‘stage talk’ stage right, stage left, etc can be confusing. Stage left is your left when you are facing the audience. Stage right is your right when facing the audience. an easy way to remember what up stage and down stage are is to imagine a raked stage as this is where the term comes from. Upstage is basically the back of the stage, which would be higher than the front of the stage when raked. Downstage is the part of the stage near the audience.
We’re sure stage managers will know what you mean by, ‘place my box in the middle of the stage, towards the front, so there’s room to walk around the front and back’, though. So you won’t need to worry about stage terms, really.
Also, if you have a really complicated set up, send a pic of how you’d like it set up. Images from previous shows are good, as are a basic biro drawing on a piece of paper. Again, your tech run will give the stage manager/made a chance to rehearse where you want things placed.
Items to be picked up after routine:
This is where you list anything to be picked up. It should be obvious really, but some stage managers like a list to ensure they’ve picked up everything – particularly if you have any small items that could be lost – or if there’s a drop anywhere around the stage that things could fall into.
Any spills during the act:
This is your chance to let the producer know if there is likely to be a clean up at the end of an act so they can prepare – spills such as glitter, wet stuff, loads of paper, confetti, etc. The stage manager might like to be prepared ahead of the show to ensure they have the right stuff to clean up the spills and the compere might like to be prepared so they can cover for the stage manager who will be clearing. The producer might need to agree any spillages with a theatre, also, as some theatres prefer a ‘dry spill’ (ie no liquids) while some won’t allow glitter, particularly if there are wedge monitors on stage – glitter can get into these speakers.