Show Calling & Direction
Show callers are sometimes referred to as Technical Directors.
An event manager or producer will strive to coalesce all the event’s elements.
Events have evolved into more and more complex beasts with constantly changing technology, and the always decreasing nature of timelines and budgets.
Having all of the moving parts and components of the event delivery squad, often the larger events (or those reminiscent of “TV style delivery”) will need a separate show caller or technical director.
Most times this person has a creative arts background in theatre, as a “show caller” is effectively a stage manager charged with delivering the most theatrical impact.
What is the show callers job ?
Show callers don’t create, manage or produce the event. The show caller is responsible solely for delivering the audience experience. They are well versed in events and able to read the event manager or event director’s brief and deliver as required. They are the conductor of the event, to use a musical term.
Good show callers should be able to arrive at an event cold, be briefed quickly and then direct to deliver. They lead the pack on “Coms” (radio units) and as such need total control during the show.
Every element needs to work harmoniously. Performers, video, music, lights and even the audience.. working together in unity! Timing is crucial in scripts for presenters, run sheets for everyone and more simply when to just walk on and off the stage. Who’s doing what and when? Moreover, what happens when something is off cue or out of time?
When things go askew, this is your show caller’s time to shine. This is when someone needs to step in and take charge. A good show caller will render these moments invisible and no one will notice. If not, well I’m sure you can imagine.
That person in movies that shouts “lights, camera, action.. then “rolling” before a take? That’s the show caller. They command the delivery of the entire show and it’s guest experience.
Location of show caller during an event
Generally you can find the show caller behind the sound desk. You’ll notice they’re wearing a headset and mic, possibly intently focused on a computer, run sheet or “loud whispering” some choice words. Their job is to make it all roll smoothly, being the chief shot caller for the show.
They must be able to communicate to every key player of the event for the duration, from the back of house personnel to the technical team, event presenters and performers. This is key to the success of the show, and their ability as a show caller.
They can also be the familiar “voice of god” for important announcements, or for prompts and triggers in the event proceedings, so they must be the run sheet master.
Good show callers tent to develop their own unique version of short hand. Run sheets are generally full of information key to everyone, so don’t leave a lot of space for notes pertaining to specific information for the show caller.
Being a show caller is most times a thankless role, there is no praise from the audience or performers. However I can say after calling a few shows, that it is thoroughly rewarding to know that as the conductor, it was my direction that brought all the instruments together to make beautiful music.