Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Media Studies


Blackmore, Tim


The tooling of theatrical spectacle requires collaboration between stagecraft technicians and designers in an increasingly globalized and standardized manufacturing process. While hand skills are still used and remain useful, digital fabrication and other tools are now incorporated in labour processes in scenery manufacturing workshops, altering collaborative work in complex ways. This thesis is an inquiry into the epistemological role of software and digital fabrication tools in stagecraft practices and explores how the politics of craft labour intersect with material practices in media production labour. The technical aspects of the fabrication of theatrical spectacles and display environments, the way objects are used to think, and the ways tools mediate practices suggest how tacit knowledge is produced and reproduced in scenery manufacturing workshops that build theatrical sets and corporate display environments. The articles in this thesis draw from case study research of a community of craft technicians who work in the industry of theatrical display in southern Ontario, Canada. Each of the four articles focuses on different facets of this case study. The technician’s work in labour processes in scenery workshops is compared to repair and bricolage. Autonomy or self-determination over tasks in the workshop sites is explored in its material and embodied sense. The collaboration between the designer and scenic artist is mediated with digital media and this complicates established occupational roles. A case of collective organizing exemplifies the individualistic/collective dichotomy of craft labour. Using an inductive approach, the empirical research for this community case study was accomplished with participant observation and semistructured interviewing. My analysis of interview transcripts and interpretation of field data utilizes an autoethnographic methodology to reflect on and draw from my past work experience in theatre production labour as a builder and scenic artist. In this integrated article thesis, I consider how material practices constitute culture in media production labour.