Board operator vs Stage Manager

How soon do you let a trainee do their own thing?

  • 1 year

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 1 show

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 2 shows

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
I'm a high school student and this is my senior year. As head tech it's my job to train someone else on the lighting equipment. My problem is I don't know when to let them loose. If I'm not comfortable with them on the board then i probably won't let them loose. Is it wrong to be a stage manager just to watch out over them during the show? :?: [/quote]
Let them do parts of a show while you do most of it, slowly let them do more and more and then you can stand to the side and be proud of what you have taught them or scream occasionally.
It depends on your type of board.

At my school, we have an Express 125, that we mostly run off submasters for smaller shows. When I have kids I'm training, I will let them sit in the chair and run the show off the subs, but I am standing behind them, with half an eye on the show to change something or suggest something. I have a problem of being obsessive so I sometimes change it myself, but I'm working on that.

If its a computer board and you recorded cues, then as the SM you should be telling the board up when to press the go button. And, since running a show is not that hard, I think most people should be able to sit and press one button when told to.

If your talking about programing a show, then whoever the LD should be keeping half an eye on the person, making sure that the cues get programed into the board correctly, with the correct times, links, waits, parts, and any other such things the LD wants.

If your looking for a time? Well, a month being on the board for an hour a day, a month being on the board for 8 hours a day.... Plus, it all depends how quickly people learn. Use your gut, if they seem comfortable, and responsible, then it should be all right.
A decent question to ask yourself is when where you let loose? Granted it does not answer your question directly but it does create a moment of introspection. Maybe in that moment you will remember that making mistakes is part of the deal.

As a high school student large budget productions, whose financing is not dependent on how the show goes. Rather you are in a place and possition to learn and help others learning.

Some times the best way you can facilitate the learning process is by pushing the birds out of the nest. You could spend your entire senior year coaching these kids, but in the end next year you will be gone, they will take over the booth that at one point you yourself took over from your predicesor and the theater department will continue to spin.

Therefore I suggest you spend your last year as the elder statesman of Tech. Let the little things coast and let the kids make the mistakes that are easy to correct.

The show has gone on and will continue to go on, teach them what you know and treat them with respect. They will learn and you will avoid premature stress related baldness.
Ya, I agree that it's very hard to put a time on it without knowing the kids. I had two kids in training this past year and one of them settled down and understood the lighting board really well and the other the sound board (very convienient how that happened actually!) So I let them loose on their respective pieces of equipment alot sooner then I did with the equipment they wernt as comfortable with, although I did push them to learn both. I also tended to let them loose on shows that were not as important as other shows, aka the inschool shows where an outside group wasnt paying for use of the building.

I really think it's a thing that you have to feel out, and as someone previously said, let them make some mistakes and have to panic and figure it out, b/c after that they are much more likely not to do the same mistake again. (and ya, i know that is SUPER hard to do, especially when you are sitting there looking at the problem as it's happening) Again though, judge by the show too.... dont let mistakes go through like that on super important shows.
thanks. i'm just worried about handing over what's been life for 3 years to an immature freshman. maybe i'll luck out and get a mature one. we are getting a new board this year and i don't want to see it trashed by someone. is it wrong to want to stand over the kid during the spring show? I'm already doing the fall musical and the winter one-act. and is it wrong to have them learn by doing chorus concerts and whatnot?
Switzerland said:
thanks. i'm just worried about handing over what's been life for 3 years to an immature freshman. maybe i'll luck out and get a mature one. we are getting a new board this year and i don't want to see it trashed by someone. is it wrong to want to stand over the kid during the spring show? I'm already doing the fall musical and the winter one-act. and is it wrong to have them learn by doing chorus concerts and whatnot?

I followed this thread since this morning... Only question that comes to my mind is this--What was done to you--or what do you wish was done to you, when you learned and took over?? That IMO should be a key guide for you in how you train the next guy...and should help you in figuring out when your new trainee is ready or selecting the right person for the job. There is no set time limit--some folks learn and go after a quick few hours on the console, and others can drag out for weeks or longer or hit a barrier they just can't get past. It all depends on the individual.. I'm a big fan of learn-by-doing method..let them DO as much hands-on as possible--no matter the show as long as you feel they can handle it. 9 times out of 10 its YOU who are more concerned then they are about their abilities. You can tell someone a ton of things but they won't realy retain it until they actually have to do it for themselves repeatedly... Thats the best way to learn IMO...

I always ease someone into a position.. When I train someone, depending on how I feel they have absorbed the info and the attitude they have towards the responsibilities, will tell me how much to be there or to stand back. They can have a casual slacker attitude but when its half-hour or show time--they are always on the make sure you look deeply at the type of person they are and how they handle responsibilities. During a trial run or a rehearsal or show, I never stand over someone and I never criticize or distract them with corrections--that can come later after the show or pressure is off--they need to learn to stay focused on things and not get distracted. If you try to talk to them you could break them down, or make them miss another cue... This is school theater...not a space shuttle launch. Important--yes but not life-ending important that if they goof up it will send the school into chaos and it will burn to the ground. I prefer to stand behind and off to the and take notes--never look at them constantly and never show any concern or emotion--let them do their thing without punative scrutiny. Don't get frustrated and don't ride them--remember how long it may have taken you to learn something new..use humor when you can. Let them learn--let them figure stuff out...let them take the time and build their confidence. People have to learn at their own pace--no set time is enough or not enough...some learn quick and you can let go the reigns and watch them go...others need some handholding or reassuring from time to time...some take forever and reach a certain level and that is the max they can take before overload. The latter usually get moved to another job....

Now your question--is it wrong to want to stand over someone to make sure they do things right--no its not wrong--but its NOT effective usually...sometime you have to let go and let them fall or let them grow.. Its like teaching a kid to ride a bike--you can be there holding on but sooner or later you have to let go and expect them to ride and also expect them to fall a few more times. To add extra pressures of being watched for any little mistake or movement can sometimes FORCE a mistake to happen..also can make you seem like a dictator--and then when that is percieved, you shut any doors to them learning a thing from you...

I will make the same comment i make on every thread of this question.

It is almost imposible to cause permenent damage to a lighting console by simply pressing buttons and programing. If you spill a coke thats a differnt story.

So what if someone erases your cues then you just put in your backed up disk, if you were stupid enough to let someone on your desk that you have not saved to disk then you are two unqualified to train a tech.

So what if they change settings on your console you can always put them back, and stop your complaining it takes mere seconds to put the time on the console back to the corect one.

if they erase your patch you should have done a back up disk of your show file wich includes your patch. if your so worried about it then make a back up disk before you start building a show and call it your fresh boot disk so your patches are always the same.

What can someone do to the board brandnew or not.

My answer to the question of how long before letting them on the board, is not one that is provided in your poll what i would answer is the very first day.

We do not learn to drive from a book they put us in a car in a controlled enviroment. So we can screw up safely and school is that controlled enviroment to screw up.l Not to let the person on to the console as of the first day seems like your prserving your postion insted of letting it go.

Let them on it affter school for 2 hours esspecialy with an express with in the first 30 min if you do it right they will be programing simple cues setting the patch and putting fade in and out . by the end of the 2 hours if you only provided enough info to get them by and left the room so they could just mess around they will most definitely be able to not well but still function most parts of the console.

how do i know this? because i was the technical director at the dave phillips studio theatre and the Poor alex theatre where we had to train new board ops with every show and it took them about 1 hour to be completly 100% functional with the board so i have added an addtional hour to account for an complet novice.

Hope that helps you understand my method

Well, I am about to enter my sophomore year of high school and I have been extremely involved with tech since I started. But it was frustrating because no one put trust in me or taught me how to use anything until my last few shows. So I would recommend testing your freshman first. If they seem mature enough to show up and willing to learn and work, then let them work. Because regardless of our freshmanly curse, there are a few very promising ones out there and nothing is worse than being denied something you know you're capable of.

The thing that taught me the most was when I was put in demanding situations. Not all people work like this, but being in a situation where you're already expected to know everything will teach you something awfully fast. I don't know how your school does things, but the techs at mine work band and choir concerts. Maybe you could let them record subs and cues for a band concert and see how that goes. If anything, no one will notice any mistakes because they're there for the music. People can learn awfully fast if they're worried about disappointing you. Or let them run lights for a few tech runs before a show and see how they do. As long as you teach them the board, you should be set. Because in my situation when no one would even let me wire a plug, I ended up teaching myself to use the board. And that can have disastrous results... like plunging the whole theatre into the dark while people are trying to get things done :lol: . So I think you'll manage fine.
For me it depends on the person, the job, the situation, and how much I trust them. Under the right circumstances I've put people in tech positions with 2 minutes or less training. I did it tonight with a camera person, now for lighting, it can be different. Is this person merely an operator or taking a position where in they have programming, bulb changing, light positioning all that stuff too. Also are there movers involved. All of those things can change the training time alot.
I find the quiz kind of curious in that it's asking in topic title "Board operator vs Stage Manager", yet in the subject of the quiz "How soon do you let a trainee do their own thing?"

Just want to make sure you don't mean any intent of the board operator ever doing their own thing in regards to the stage manager calling the show including lighting cues.

Or do you in question more wish for an answer on this subject as opposed to what many I think have responded to about how soon to let the kiddie lighting people get their fingers on the light board.
I don't think so. If it is for the good of the show and for the good of the trainee, I would make sure he was doing the right stuff. Because, if he/she makes a mistake, You trained him so you'll probably be the person who gets blaimed. That what I think


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