Tom Hunt - Dominion Post
With opening night looming, Marcus McShane once spent three straight days preparing a theatre, while sleeping in a bed that was part of the set because he didn't have time to venture home.
This can be the life of backstage crew and designers, especially when festival time rolls around.
McShane has come to terms with the "crazy hours" and the unreliable income.
"Banks tend to laugh at you if you're looking for a mortgage and you're self-employed in the arts.
"But I don't think I could go back to a day job," he says.
With roughly five festivals under his belt, as a crew member and now lighting designer, he could almost be considered a pioneer in the industry, but he still does other jobs. He builds bicycles and does copywriting.
This festival he is working on just one show - the opera Hohepa - but he is taking off his lighting designer hat and working as an audiovisual producer.
"To survive in the arts, you have to be able to do about five jobs. But it seldom gets boring, and you're often living in a different city month to month.
"One designer I know used to follow arts festivals round the world. They're normally in summer.
"There was a time when he hadn't seen a winter for 15 years."
On the surface it would appear McShane was destined for theatre work. His father owns Grouse Lighting, which hires out theatrical equipment, and his younger brother Rowan has just started working on the festival lighting crew.
At Wellington High School, he was into live performance theatre then at Victoria University, where he studied English and philosophy, he intended to follow a different path from his father.
"But after five years of study, I thought I would rather work in theatre."
While day-to-day work can, at times, be hard to come by in the fickle theatrical world, things can easily become frantic.
"Everything has to be ready by a certain time. There's no way round it, and no way to extend it," he says.
In the case of Hohepa, that certain time - opening night - is Thursday.