Technicians are the backbone of every show I've ever been in. From stage managers to assistant directors, costume crew and light and sound operators, without the existence of even one of these roles and the people that fill them no show would have been what it was. I think that more often than not it's easy to get caught up in the acting whether you're the performer or the audience member and it's just as easy to lose sight of the technicians that make the show go round. Having been on both sides of multiple productions in high school, I've seen first-hand how easily people shrug off the work of technicians and I can not emphasize enough how important that work is and how much more value we as both audience members and performers should place on these roles.
The goal of the theatre is to immerse the audience in the story so much so that they forget that they're watching actors on a stage in worlds created by sets and special effects but just because we want the audience to believe that it all came together almost magically doesn't mean that's how it works. And for some reason, the technicians that create these worlds for these stories to take place often get mistreated or overlooked in favor of the actors that brought the dialogue to life. There is an obvious disparity in the way people value actors vs technicians and it's skewed very heavily in favor of the actors because they are the ones people see out on stage. Obviously, this isn't to say that actors don't also put in an immense amount of work to make shows happen but we get recognition and applause that technicians do not for equal and sometimes more blood, sweat and tears.
Many of the people closest to me are people who are well versed in technical theatre and I've seen the way that they work and the hours that they pull and frankly, the shit they put up with to make a show be the best it can be. I've seen people spend hours doing the laundry so that costumes are clean for the next run of the show, stage managers pull insane hours before the actors even show up for rehearsal or call and work hard long after the actors have gone home for the night. But somehow, despite all of this, there's still this belief that technicians are somehow lower on the totem pole than actors and deserve not only less recognition but less respect.
The belief that the people who handle the technical side of productions are somehow inherently less important than those on stage is not only incorrect and most elite but it's detrimental to theatre and the experience of everyone in the production.
As I said, it's easy to moan and groan about a 6-hour rehearsal as an actor but who comes in early to set everything up? Technicians do. Who stays for another 2-hours after rehearsal is over to put everything away, to do laundry, to do a post-mortem, to set and check props, to close down the theatre, put out the ghost light at the end of the night? The list goes on and on and on and the answer is always technicians. A lot of what they do goes unseen by actors and audience alike but that doesn't mean it should be a thankless job.
Outside of praise, there's the matter of respect. Like previously stated, at least in my experiences, both as an actor and technician in high school, respect can be an issue. It's as if people feel as though they have a choice whether or not to be respectful of the technical staff. There can often be a sense of 'they work for the actors' rather than working with them like somehow there's this weird power dynamic that boosts everyone but the technicians. And the truth of the matter is that no one in the theatre does more or less valuable work than someone else and I'm a firm believer that it can't be stressed enough how much theatre is a collaborative effort and would fail without any piece of the machine that it takes to create art.
Respect for the technicians is non-negotiable. Just because you're the star of the show doesn't mean that you're the star of the show. Long story long, Respect your technicians, thank your technicians and light them the same way that they light you every night because without them theatre would not be the same!