The headset is used for communication between the stage manager and other positions in the booth and back stage. Typically headsets are worn by the stage manager (SM), assistant stage manager (ASM), light board, spotlight operators, and sound board. Additional headsets may be used, based on the needs of a given show, but each will be an officially designated position.
Some of the basic rules for talking on headset:
- You always identify yourself by position, not name.
- Always announce when you come on or go off headset, for example: “ASM on headset.” This allows others on headset to know who they can and cannot communicate with.
- When not talking, your headset mike should be off. All noise you can hear will be fed into the active mike and can interfere with other communication.
- There are 3 stages to a cue called by the stage manager: warning, standby, and GO. When a warning or standby is called for your position, you immediately acknowledge the cue and then relay the message to any additional crew members as needed. You acknowledge the cue by replying with your position, sometimes in combination of with the cue called.
- Proper responses are:
- “Deck warned”
- “ASM standing”
Which you use will depend what you and your SM prefer, and how many others are called on the same cue. When the same cue is given to lights, spots, sound and deck, it is common to use the short response so all can respond quickly. No talking on headset when any cue is in standby state. A cue in standby means that there is only about ¼ page or less of material before that cue goes to GO. Unless there is a real emergency, the line should be kept quiet so that both the SM and the cued positions can stay focused for the GO call.
Controls on the headset box
The box has three controls:
- A round button to activate your microphone. When it is “in”, the microphone is on. When the button is “out”, your mike is off. On some boxes you will also see a green disc inside the button when it is “in”.
- A slider which which adjusts the level of what you hear. It does not adjust the volume for your mike. When a headset is left unattended, the volume should be turned to a low-minimum volume so that talk on the headset cannot be heard. This is especially the case for headsets used backstage (and especially so in the Gaddy Goodwin).
- A square button. When pressed, this button activates the orange LED on all headsets connected to the system. This is occasionally used when back stage needs to signal someone but they are unable to talk via the microphone.
Caring for your headset
To work, our headsets must be plugged in to the wall. When working in the booth (SM, sound board, or light board) this is not much of an issue. However, when your position requires you to move (spot lights and especially backstage) you need to stay aware of the cable between you and the wall to ensure that no one (including you) trips on it. As you move around make sure that your cable stays to the edge of any walking areas and that only as much cable is uncoiled as needed to cover the distance without creating a tripping hazard.
When attaching or detaching cables to the control box, there can be a loud pop put out on the line. It is good practice to do such tasks when no one else is on headset. If you must attach or detach cables when others are on headset, give a verbal warning to others that you will be doing so and that they need to protect their ears.
The most common reasons for attaching and detaching cables is to untangle the cable that runs between the wall and the control box.