Welcome to our FAQs page 

Need help? Or looking for a particular resource on our website? We here at After Dark Theatre are here to help!

The circus industry is full of lingo, definitions and guidelines that are not common knowledge outside of circus. We have compiled a bunch of frequently asked questions, regular industry enquiries and general facts, that we hope helps you with your next production, event or function.

Circus FAQs

> What are the different types of circus acts out there?

There are four major categories that all of circus falls into. These are:

  • Ground based circus acts(Acts that involve the artist working their routine on the ground. This includes Jugglers, contortionists, Acrobats etc.)
  • Aerial Circus acts(Acts that involve the artist/s being suspended in the air via an aerial apparatus. This includes Trapeze, Cloud-swing, Silks etc.)
  • Ground to Air Circus acts(Acts that involve artist/s being launched into the air or utilising a ground secured prop, climbing up and performing acrobatics etc)
  • Variety/ Vaudeville/ speciality acts(These acts include sideshow, magic, fortune telling, snake charming, beast masters etc. Fire performers are considered both a speciality and ground act.)

Within those categories are further specialised types of acts, like juggling, trapeze, contortion and magic. Please see our free resource ‘Circus Definitions‘, or if you would like to see a more visual representation of acts, please visit our Pinterest boards.

> How long does an ‘Act’ usually go for and why?

A circus act normally goes for approximately 4-6 minutes; this is for a number of reasons. First off, Circus is very physically demanding. If you are a juggler, an acrobat or an aerialist , the body and mind are working overtime. It is usually very difficult to maintain that high level of physical performance climbing ropes or flipping. Secondly, audience engagement of a particular act tends to hit the ‘sweet-spot’ around 5 minutes and begins to wane at beyond 10 minutes of seeing the same act. Finally, music and choreography becomes difficult to create beyond 6-7 minutes on a a single act without feeling repetitive. 

> What is the difference between ‘Roving’ and an ‘Act’ or ‘Podium’?

Roving entertainment involves an artists interacting and performing to small groups of patrons, usually during the opening of an event or as pre-show entertainment in a production. These are not full acts, more like walk-by entertainment where the artists ‘roam’ or ‘rove’ around the room. In most cases, this is an add-on form of entertainment that would compliment a featured stage act or to help immerse patrons into a theme and world. There is also such a thing as aerial roving, where artists are usually seated in swings, trapezes and other aerial apparatus around the room and interact with patrons or provide great photo opportunities.

Podium entertainment is the in-between of a featured act and roving. It is like roving, where the artist is not performing a featured act on a stage. However, they are confined to a small raised stage so patrons can watch them. They are more a decorative style of performance and work well in a dance bracket, or with a DJ and music. 

Roving artists are usually booked for an hour interval, broken down as either 3 x 10 minute, 2 x 20 minute slots or 1 x 45 minute slots within the hour. You can book most roving artists for greater than an hour and a maximum of 3 hours.

> Is there a minimum requirements in circus?

Yes, Some circus acts may require a certain amount of space or height to be efficiently performed. See our act categories for further information or look at our Pinterest boards for a basic visual aid and see what an act may require. If you are still unsure, you can always contact us with any question or query.

> What do I need to know for an Aerial act? Rigging, safe working loads? It’s all very confusing!

These types of acts will always require rigging and a qualified rigger to set-up the act. If you would like the apparatus to move up and down as well as the artist during the performance, then a rigger will be required to operate a motor or purchase system (A set of counterweight lines).

There a two types of aerial rigging; single point and multiple point. As the name suggests, a single point requires a single rigging point to the roof. This is common in rope, straps, tissu and aerial silks. Also there are single point trapezes that form a triangle above the artist. Multiple point rigging is where there are more than one point of attachment. this is common in aerial apparatus like standard trapeze, cloud-swing and tight-wire. 

Most single point aerial performances require at least a minimum of 5.5 metres roof clearance from floor to point and at least 3 metres of unobstructed area around the floor of the performance, and surrounding space where the artist will perform.

This allows them to move around the apparatus and in instances where the apparatus also rests on the floor such as silks or a rope, it will stop the tail end of the apparatus whipping your patrons or audience.

Larger set-ups like flying trapeze rigs, tight-wire or swinging based aerials may require more space, hardware and riggers. 

Finally, safe working loads is the load that the anchor point (usually the point in the roof) will hold safely. Most countries around the the world adhere to a 5-1 safety rating for aerial performance, however in Australia, certain countries in Europe and North America adhere to a 10-1 safety. That means your roof needs to be rated for 1000kg or 1 tonne force for an artists up to 100kg in weight. Most artists not weighing more than 70-80kg. For more information in regards to rigging, please contact us and we will be more than happy to help or point you in the right direction via our trusted and preferred suppliers, 

> Do I need to have artists in for a rehearsal? Whats the difference between a safety/ tech rehearsal and a dress rehearsal?

It is recommended that you have the artist in for a rehearsal if it is part of a larger function, or if it time sensitive to have the artist out at a certain point of the performance. If it is in a private small party setting, a rehearsal may not be required. Depending on rehearsal time and length, the artists may charge more if they have to wait around for a long period of time between rehearsal and performance or run their acts multiple times in rehearsal.

A safety/ tech rehearsal is when the artist will check lighting, the rigging, heights and may try some segments of their act to see if it is technically safe to do so. this is the rehearsal period dedicated to the artist and the riggers/ technicians. The dress rehearsal is when the artist will be in full costume and run their act from start to finish, as if in the performance. Not all events require a dress rehearsal. 

> This all sounds very confusing, I don’t know any of this stuff; it might be too much trouble?

Please don’t be overwhelmed, that is why event personnel, producers and party planners come to us, we are here to help. We are also here to guide you through the process and help you deliver a truly amazing event, function or production. Contact Us and don’t feel like any question is a silly question.

Event FAQs

> Themed events – What are the five basic theme design fundamentals?

To develop a theme, consider the following:

  • Who are your patrons or clientele? Look at their demographic. What industry / lifestyle do they have?
  •  What is the event to them? Is the event an award ceremony, an appreciation dinner, a product launch, or just a wild party to celebrate something?
  • Has there been a recent World event, movie release, place that clients have visited or anything that is more personal or popular amongst your patrons? 
  • Is there a major (or minor) Holiday or celebration coming up? (Mardi Gras, Christmas, May the 4th etc.?)
  • Does your demographic/ company/ person of the event, have a colour scheme, preferred colour or particular branding? 

With those basic 5 questions in mind, you can look at how to piece together a theme. You can also see our Inspiration boards on Pinterest to get a head start. Of course, feel free to look at our inspiration and make it your own!

> My event space is not a traditional event space? Can you help?

Yes, we work in a variety of spaces from vineyards, theatres, warehouses, clubs, bars and function spaces. If you have an event idea and would like to talk, get in touch.

> Do you offer corporate workshops or group classes?

We do offer corporate team-building workshops such as a group class with one of our amazing artists. Although we do not have a training facility that is exclusively ours, but we are able to hire a facility on your behalf if you wish.

> Do you do kids parties or house parties?

Yes, we do a variety of small and large private parties. depending on location of the event to our party and the size of the party, the artist may charge extra travel time as well as have a minder accompany them.

> Can you provide performers and production for Festival sites?

Yes! We are able to supply equipment, performers and crew for all festival sites. 

Production/ Theatrical and Lighting FAQs

> Do you supply crew? what kind of crew do you have?

Yes we can! we have a database of theatre and event personnel available. See our Crewing Services section for more information.

> Can you draw a 3D model of my venue?

This is a service we provide. We utilise a number of 3D modelling software. for more information, please see our Lighting design services section for more information.

> What programs do you use for design?
  • For venue and set piece modelling, we utilise Sketch up Pro.
  • We use L8 for Lighting visualisation and programming. We also use Vector works this for lighting paperwork such as plans.
  • For visual mixing or VJ services, we use Resolume as well as Lightform.
  • Lighting operation we use either ETC, Grand MA2/3 and LSC lighting consoles.
  • Sound playback and midi timing, we use either Qlab or Show Cue Sytems.
  • For image adjustment and layering, we use Photoshop.
> I’ve heard you’ve drawn a venue that I’m going into? Can I have the plan for free?

This is a question we get asked a lot… A LOT. We are commissioned by companies and venues to draw up a venue in 3D space and as it was them who paid for the drawing, it is their property. We can sometimes get the plan or model sent to you, once we receive permission from the client who has paid for the product. They sometimes may charge for this to cover costs, but this is very rare; they will either release it, or not. If it is a venue we have drawn and commissioned ourselves, we can give screen renders for free, however we charge rental of the full DWG or WYG files.

> Do you offer engineering or architectural drawings?

We offer 3D modelling and lighting plans. engineering drawings or any drawing that requires mm precision would be best drawn by a drafts-man, architect or engineer. We are happy to pass you onto our preferred suppliers at no on-cost.

> Do you prepare lighting paperwork or touring paperwork? I’m talking about tech specs etc.

Yes we do, please see our Lighting design services section for more information.

> For a theatrical production, how do you charge? Is it by the hour? Per project? Royalties?

This is dependant on the scale of the project, type of project, and our involvement in the project. If the project is a small production that needs a few basic design ideas, we may charge a once off fee or per hour. If the project requires creative planning, programming and concept/ style creation for the production, we may charge royalties as well as a smaller design fee to cover IP (intellectual property). this covers small design tweaks. If it is a larger production that wants to buy the rights to the design, then we may charge a larger design fee with a per hour or re-design fee every time the design needs to be tweaked or updated.

> What are design royalties? What does it cover?

Design royalties are intellectual property of the creative design that the designer has contributed to the project. For ticketed events, the designer is entitled to a very small percentage of royalties. For a lighting designer, based on the scale of the production, amount of work required and additional support offered, the range of royalty may vary from 0.5%- %2.5 of the Gross Box-Office or up to 5% on a show buyout scenario, where a box-office does not exist. Some designers may or may not offer a level of technical support for the royalty.

When we charge design royalties on a project, it covers small adjustments and design tweaks as the production evolves or as venue adjustments require tweaks.

This does not cover a wage for a designer to go on the tour, this is our ‘tech support’ that we offer to productions. Normally the design is also programmed on a single console or software of the designers choosing. To re-program on another console is considered a re design and an additional charge may follow if not negotiated before the initial signing of design.

Normally, unless negotiated or unless the production goes through a major overhaul and name change, the design, once signed off, is for the lifetime of the production. If the production goes through a major overhaul or management change, the previous designers have first right of refusal to take on the new design or disengage from the project. 

As our company likes to practice open book policy, and as a resource for aspiring or established designers, we have added a sample contract that we normally utilise for you to see. Click here to download our draft contract.

> I want to tour a design of yours, how do I do it? What is recommended?

There are three different options that we offer for a touring design, depending on the exact requirements of your show and the financial considerations of the production. 

1) Basic paperwork and cue synopsis with possible show file- After the first show is completed we provide comprehensive paperwork consisting of a cue synopsis with attached images that allows a operator at another venue to recreate the show based on the initial design. In some situations it may be possible to advance a show file, depending on venue capabilities and in house programmers. Whilst the most straight forward this option is limited in scope and relies heavily on the venue operator and is therefore only suitable for the simplest of designs. 

2) FIFO design – The designer for you production will be on-site for your rehearsal and opening night and will recreate the design and program the show before handing over to the venue technician for the run of the show. 

3) On the Road – For the large scale and complex productions, sometimes there is no other alternative but to tour your own crew. In this case the designer will tour with the production and design and operate every show, guaranteeing the consistency of your production in different venues and with different equipment.

> What do you specialise in?

We specialise in Lighting design for events, theatre and live production. We also have a team that specialise in prop creation, set design and audio engineering.

> I have a bar or nightclub and want advice or design consultation? Do you provide lighting planning and consultation?

Yes we do! please see our production design services section in either lighting hire or design to answer your question, or contact us and let’s chat.

> Do you have lighting equipment for purchase or hire?

Yes we certainly do. We utilise high-end lighting equipment from reputable brands with proven professional track record. see our Lighting hire section for more information. If you don’t see what you are looking for, please let us know your enquiry and we will try our best to get what you need.

> I don’t want to buy thousands of dollars in lighting, Do you offer long-term, semi- permanent rental?

After Dark Theatre does offer long term rentals on venue gear and we currently supply a range of venues from theatres, to clubs and bars. This is designed so you don’t have to outlay massive amounts of money, while still having an amazing light rig. We constantly update older and broken fixtures, so your venue always looks sleek, up-to-date and amazing for your patrons.

>I’m also a lighting hire company, what is this ‘white-labelling service’ I keep hearing about that After Dark Theatre offers?

White labelling is when you utilise another companies gear and on-sell it as your own. We have began white labelling our gear so fellow hire companies can utilise our warehouse of stock as their own. Are you a small hire company that has just landed a big client but don’t have the stock to make it work? Or are you a larger company that needs those few extra fixtures for the tour? We offer fully serviced fixtures and no label road cases  so you can white-label our gear as your gear.

> I want to work for you, how do I sign up?

We normally post job openings up, but please send us an email, we’d love to take a look.

> I have a design or equipment question? can you help?

Of course. Contact us or check out our free resources across our website.

> I need inspiration for my next lighting or production design… Got any inspiration boards?

Yes we do! check out our Pinterest boards. This is constantly updated.

> I’m an aspiring technician or designer, do you do private tuition?

We can! contact us below.

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