M.E.: Master Electrician
The master electrician, or M.E., is generally the person in charge of realizing a lighting designer's Light Plot. Depending on where and who employs them their other jobs can range from maintaining lighting equipment to running the entire lighting department of a theatre. In some theatres and performing arts centers the M.E. will answer to the Lighting Supervisor, they might also answer to the TD or the Production Manager.
In some theatres the M.E. is responsible for programming the lighting console and running the shows. Often this job includes performing a dimmer/channel check before each performance to check that all equipment is working correctly and is focused correctly. They generally take light cues from the Stage Manager but it is their responsibility to maintain the lighting designer's vision of the show.
Tools of the M.E.
The most common tool for a M.E. to carry is a 6" or 8" crescent wrench. Other tools may include:
In larger institutions the M.E. may not actually handle much equipment, but may play more of a management role. He or she will plan the installation of the lighting for a production. The M.E. will be the center point of a large volume of information. Changes from the LD have to be planned, circuiting information and data addressing information must be generated for the electricians, and materials/labor budgets must be tracked.
- wire cutters (dykes)
- wire strippers
- multi meter
- various pliers
- work gloves
- Remote Focus Unit
- Laptop computer
- DMX tester/generator
- Ethernet analyzer
On Broadway the term is Production Electrician. In this role one individual may be tasked with the management of the lighting gear being used on several shows. In R&R/country touring shows, this position is generally called Lighting Crew Chief.
See this thread: http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/lighting/8914-everything-master-electrician.html for discussion.
Note that outside of the entertainment industry, Master Electrician has a somewhat different meaning, see the Bureau of Labor Statistics website Electricians.