careers in lighting

Van

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Jul 27, 2006
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Portland, Or.
You all are making me feel a little regretful that I'm still living at home. :( I live 2 blocks away from campus and can't afford to pay rent right now, so it's just been a convenient arrangement. But maybe I'm not growing up as much as I could be. :grin:
Ah treasure it while you can ! I admit it . I miss my folks and I never realized how much family stuff I missed out on while I was away at school. Then I got married 2 months after I graduated, and off to Oregon. Besides Growing up is over rated.
 

ship

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Mar 29, 2003
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Illinois
So, just my two cents, but from my experience, I'd suggest looking hard for a small school that you can get hands-on experience right away! You'll love it.
Good luck!

Valid arguement but opposing it is that schools that have a larger class size has more classes in theater and tech so as to learn more from. Plus at some point there is a certain limitation to smaller schools by way of someone to go to in learning when now in charged. My opinion... medium sized school, one not so large you have to fight to get any classes, but one not so small that as a freshmen or sophmore you wind up the Master Carpenter and for all intensive purposes TD for a season or even show. This even as a Junior that unless really special, you wind up with any form of even studio theater show you are designing that's realized or real position. Perhaps a assistant design or two Junior year but only after considering the amount of students you share classes with and fitting all those in their last two years at school to some designer or assistant designer slot should if the season is large enough you get your chance. This also only if good enough to be trusted beyond the other designers you are in compitition with.

Rough figure for me would be to go to a medium sized school for undergraduate work, than if going for a Master's degree, head for the top huge schools such as Yale or UofI amongst lots of others. And also, if at all possible amongst other studies, attempt to get your teaching degree if you have time. Won't hurt, it would only help open up career possibilities for your future in the long run. I in many ways am hampered by way of a lack of teaching degree such as I would recommend for others.

Back in high school I was part of a drafting program that was rated one of the top ten in the state. Was even doing Auto Cadd on an Apple IIE that didnt' yet have a mouse. It was all X/Y/Z polar coordinants to which you typed into a DOS file so as to see your results of mis-aligned lines at times when you converted the typed in commands to a line drawing that was on a seperate screen. Anyway, it was a class of like six serious students by the fourth year of high school. We were graded by way of like a 9.5 ratio and a 9.5 was a death grade that would lower ones' standing in the class. For any bullet holes (holes made by a compass) in the drafting paper, it was 1/10th of a point. That serious of a class and it was all about that scholarship to UofI Chicago for Architecture. I was of the top two students. Could have been an arcitect... than I discovered the theater as a career. About 1/4 of the way thru senior year at highschool "Architecture" class that was a year long class, my grades started dropping from the top two to bottom in that I was now to become a stage hand and "world famous designer" as a career instead of architect - or at leat "the grumpy old man of the theater" I'm still working on.

Importance of me mentioning this is that later in college there was like four "top designers" in my graduating class at school, and a few underclassmen. That similar by way of one bullet hole in the drafting paper loss of a tenth of a point is good for one's drive and education. We were terrible towards each other in critiquing each other's designs - especially mine given I normally had more time than the others who still had to fill in Practicum credits. Still in challenging each other and just the drive to be the top student, there beyond teachers, was peers - not just other tech people but peers that were all just as driven to design shows as I who were striving in class to end up with the main stage design, much less career and no doubt contacts to understudy under a pro-designer. It was in the end a similar atmosphere of amongst those that survived four years of intense study and work, we are all that's left and now in with the graduate students by way of advanced design classes. We were needed by them to bulk up the often at best ten person class sufficient that it became a class, we needed them so as to learn and further discuss and debate further concepts in design beyond the areas of a stage. For me at least, that compitition, limited program but one that's large enough worked well.

For me in my first college a little school, yea I did a lot of shows and got to do stuff by way of how I wanted - actally had actors on their knees in approaching me when they came to tell me that they forgot to wash their paint brushes in an over the weekend painting session. Constantly fought the concept of "the show must go on" verses the eventual "the show must go on, only now without you" in me eventually saving too many shows and not concentrating upon studies enough. Got kicked out of that school. And yea, my advisor - the theater's director would stand up for me.. yep natta.

This all as opposed to a fairly medium sized school, only a few MFA theater people in the tech program sufficient to equate with more classes in theater tech we shared with them, but much less design work. In fact, other than a few classroom sized designs, I never at any point designed for the main stage or even the studio space at the school in a realized design. Sure I assistant designed, and my wagon for "Sweeney Todd" I designed and built I expect is still in existance and often rented, but I never designed a show there all by myself. This granted that amongst a good number of designers, by the time I hit my final year I was already hooked up with a theater of five in Chicago and spending most of my time 120 miles away in getting "Elephant in a Shoebox" awards or "Top Ten Desiners to Watch in the Coming Years" awards by way of the Chicago as opposed to local school papers. (Never got a "Jeff" award for design but did work on some "Jeff" nominated productions as a designer. Thus it was probably by way of the school thought that my Senior year design slot was safe to give to someone else and it in reality was fair enough.

These while not some official award was still a big thing for me at the time - dates fuzzy if in college for both or right after, but out all the designers in the Chicago area, I was specificacally noted for my work above and beyond. I was all primed and set, to set the world on fire. Had to make the choice at some point and I gave up design for food on the table as opposed to waiting to be discovered in a big way. Luckily it was a design/production major and as a part of it, I had to also as it were minor in a secondary field of design or I will have been working elsewhere by now. For me it was set design with carpentry I did. Than I got tired of carrying plywood to the saw and knowing more about how a garage or shed is constructed than the designers I was working for and I left the field and went for my secondary study lighing.

(This was a big career move for me no less I'm sure than if I had to leave theater and find and office job - me doing what goes spark in the night I avoided while at the smaller school. Such lighting gear really did go spark at the smaller school - nobody knew enough about lights to make it safe, much less were sufficient to train/teach me to where I am today. They could have tought me a PC verses Fresnel, verses Leko, but the Director of theater was the one that made it go spark in the night by way of touching both sprinkler pipe and fixture while on a ladder in focus. I was helping at the light board and my own light board did a spark in a way I have no clue about that didn't settle me well in any way with lighting. Best I will have come out with at that school was much what I took to the school with me - highschool education in carpentry. No classes where by the teacher was instructing in how to align a table saw so as to make foam molding out of a sheet of extruded polystyrine - heck at the old place I with it's education will have been challenged to know the difference to know it verses expanded polystyrine. Not to say that all small schools have a similar very basic program but it's a very large difference for me in what I learned in class at one place verses what I was teaching at another. Sure top of the world and it's hard to give up, but you are there to learn.)

No, not lighting design after leaving my career for some un-known type of tech, I also studied to some extent but not as much but which came in handy, but in this case as it were almost my fourth field of study right above costume design - lighting tech and now lighting fabrication. I was almost as qualified to design costumes at the start as I was to engineer three phase 96way distribution systems that I now do as part of my living. (Important if designer professionally "The Business of Theatrical Design." Such a book was not out when I was going that direction and finances were in part the reason I for all intensive purposes gave it up.) Having time without having to do shows to read such a book is important, this much less while not doing shows every night it might seem and never getting caught up between productions so as to take say a business class on the side will do you much better than having the time to sit on the hooks so as to listen to the latest gossep about who is doing who or estimates upon what's the best form of soda to keep one awake.

I miss design in some ways but in the wiring and lamp choice for others aspect of it I now do I still get much a chance to do design work - that's the fixture I made from scratch Peter Gabrial is now holding type of stuff. None the less, while I miss real design work and wish I had more time for designing shows - below is a note on the percentage chance that you will become a designer in reality verses a tech person - hopefully one that's going to retire from doing tech as opposed to say doing realistate or something else, but still it's a good field to study as long as you study at least two design parts and lots of tech to cover your bases.

For me at least while I didn't get to design on the main stage, I still in class got credit for the pro-work as part of "Professional Practice in Design", and had a teacher/designer supervisor that was helping me design such shows in helping me learn and solve problems in design. It kind of takes it a bit beyond my earlier college years where for tech - due to an outstanding high school training in tech, I right away was able to take over for the basics trained small school tech program and get locked into just building stuff in a high school similar way. No real education, I brought with me what I knew and didn't learn much at the small school. I was useful to them by way of getting stuff done.

In the real college, I didn't do more than one or two shows for the school a year. Lots of time to study for class and put 14 hours per page into my drafting in ink. Mastered that technique and beyond that was able to study design for my shows by way of spending like a month on design - just it's design for say a class project that would never be realized. Want to do a three level jack knife set for "West Side Story", I had time to not only study all about the play but also read into structural engineering of steel and even into how corrugated steel decking is done. At the time I designed that set, I actually understood the concepts behind how to do courriguated steel decking and could even say how much such a three level jack knife platform would weigh.

As opposed to having to do shows (yes I would have to see the school shows, and others, than type up a review and papers so as to discuss in class,) While not always working on productions, I had time to study and study where ever my interest took me. This much less refine and refine my designes to the extent that I at times thought they were good.

This granted that by the time I got to the school, I didn't have any real hours left in "theater practicum" by way of number of productions already worked at the smaller school. Had to work like one show per year, and another for any number of basics classes thus about two shows out of like six or more. Many in my classes that had not so many shows under the belt already, much less so many years already in college did have to work lots of shows thus my experience was different.

Still... the concept that in doing theater - especially design, that you don't have to work even half the shows of a season so as to get more time to study and refine your designs, get more than two theater classes per semester in tech all thru your education, and there is lots of students and thus better qualified teachers to teach, to me says a lot. At my old smaller school, there was two teachers. Both had more or less a basics in theater education. At the medium sized school, there was three or four teachers just for tech and lots of others in the program.

For me at least that's the difference. Sure, you won't get all the classes you want always when you want them. Some classes you might miss out on. Say you miss out on one class and never get a chance to take say a class specific like say metals - in only being offered every three years. Miss it say twice in your four or more years at school. Yep, that's a shame you missed such a class. Was it even offered in the smaller school, much less what other classes were offered that you did get into that the smaller school also did not offer.

Just some thoughts on my part in not saying that a huge school is correct for everyone, or even that a small school might not be ideal, or that the medium sized one was perfect. Just some concepts to throw out. Entire semester in say scenic painting, another say in props building etc.

Also as with all schools, one school for one person's needs won't always or perhaps ever be the same school or the right school for another person - have to get lucky and or interview many schools.

Than if attempting to be a designer... make sure that you do realize reality. Sure, I wanted to set the world on fire and become the next world famous designer. Could do it too, even at one point did start making money from design professionally. Gotta remember that as with acting, becoming a designer sufficent enough to make a living off design is kind of a 1:100 type of thing at best. Have fall back plans and loves so that if it doesn't work out, you have some other training and loves. Try to, but don't base your world upon setting the world on fire. Most likely you won't, and by the time you are 40 you will either be or not be one of the 10% left I would say are still even doing theater and or live entertainment. Consider all the tech people out there around the country and world with your asperations, than send them all thru a funnel that terminates in retirement. That's reality. Study hard and practice.

For me at leat once I got to a larger school, worked well was the time to really in depth study where ever my interests in learning stuff took me and not having to devote hours upon hours in production work. Lots less time behind the light board - but sufficient to learn it, more time just sitting down and reading entire books - lots of books on all sorts of things. Production experience after college is one thing in not being a "deer in the headlights" once you get on a real stage.

On the other hand beyond the basics, really understanding that some say two sets of 1/2" thick x 2" wide aluminum bar isn't going to have magical qualities to it in supporting three six bar S-4 PAR light fixtures (18 lights plus cable and the bars/bolts etc) with the aluminum on the flat. This supported by a single U-Bolt per aluminum support for two bars at a 45 degree angle and a one in the center of two clamps mounted 4" apart on a 18" bar. Clamps on center are 4" apart, outer bars are at least 15" apart - that aluminum bar if on the flat is going to bend. This much less two U-Bolts won't be sufficient to retain a lamp bar at a 45 degree angle to gravity.

Such is engineering done by way of either lots of experience - years of it or lots of study and a good understanding of base engineering along with experience. Say in doing a 9-Light Mole light cantilievered off a truss, what's the maximum length a 1.1/2" water pipe can span before it starts to sag/bend the pipe? That's a lot of time in school studying engineering of such things, than time in the field, deckades in the field or as happened... a pipe that bent given some magical expectation and concept for design that was no longer allowed in the building without a certified engineer signing off on it - that cost money. The designer had a basics in how achieve what he wished, but didn't spend the time learning his trade sufficient that his specified - that's sufficient met with realty. The cantiliever pipes bent and the IA would not allow this gear back into the building until someone that knew what he was doing wrote off on it. Can't blame them - it bent a 1.1/2" Sch. 40 pipe.

If of any help, can't stress it enough, all you need to know is not just in production, it's often also supplemented in books studied already written by those who re-invented the wheel years before you. Study the books and you are a leg ahead as intended. Don't study enough by way of constantly working shows and getting this than that show up and running and you learn some solutions to problems but don't learn enough or as much.

As a designer, there is lots of time that should be spent just taking your design where ever it takes you that cannot be done if also working on shows. "Itallian American Reconcilliation" designed (non-realized) that play for class at one point. Took me amongst other places to sitting in the library and listening to a LP of "Turnadot" while reading some text my research into design also lead me. Always avoided reviews on design and specific to that design textes so that my own design would take me where I or the director was headed. Didn't want to know, in design I wanted to with each show re-invent the wheel. Still it did leave me time for a also not realized three level set of that "West Side Story" design to learn about stuff like the courrigated steel. Had questions in how could it be that strong and basic engineering of it questions. Lots of time to learn about answering such questions while at the same time and even if for class, refine my design sufficient that it could have feasibly have been done - given it didn't fall thru the stage deck.

Sometimes earlier designs in getting a feel for stuff can and should be out landish - once didn't have enough room for a grand piano in storing it off stage between scenes. "Fine I'll fly it." So I did design and engineer around flying this piano. Sure I would never but I had the time to study into how to do it and for at least this design, got to study how to fly a grand piano.

My point hopefully expressed, that it's not all about how many shows you get to work or even design (which means in the real world little to nothing), more if of help from my impression, what you learned while at school that you take with you. A percentage will come from production work, but imagine how many books one could digest if one didn't have to do as many shows per year?

Not to turn you off from design as a primary field of study and intended career. Only just as they hopefully do warn you as much in college as I was warned but never listened to that it's only like the top 10% of all designers - all designers that make it, or realistically like the tope 1% of all designers, than of them perhaps only the top 0.1% of designers that really make it. Imagine that - it's reality.



So a few months back I was sitting in the passenger seat of this designer from work's Lexus... here I stress car payments and he has all kids of cars.... We were talking design and were for the most part speaking the same language and got into concepts of overall design and theorum. At some point concepts got glossy towards each other in a way of both of us specializing in a different aspect of it, and him making the real money in it his career. (Me being in the car with him so as to go to the hardware store and buy some parts for a clothes washer electric I was installing for him, and him paying me to do the electric for him). This guy makes real money in doing his thing, and to a point while respectful and kind he was, my design experience was just not of his class but also field. I was into the noble aspects to a certain extent out of my experience that could be valid, he was into simple and good in many ways for what he makes a living at and is no more difficult for him than me doing some NEMA code plug classification these days. His simple and good is great, my noble is humble in good but not what I'm paid for in the end.

In another few dozen years he will retire in already having made his nest egg and making for an opening for other designers to become great, in another few dozen years I'll stress retirement in perhaps opening up my own position for someone else. This given for me at least, I can probably count on one hand how many people I went to school with - college and high school who are in the theater still. That number gets less and less every deckade. Fairly rare you meet tech people over 40 years old, much less over 50 years old - that's the limitating nature to tech. It's a funnel, have more than one form of training and be ready for that day you perhaps cannot do design or even tech any longer. The what if you fall off a ladder or loose your sight - what are you going to do? The what if you suddenly have a baby... A college degree is very imporant and will get you further in your tech career. A teaching degree perhaps will get you further yet, but be ready to leave the field when need comes by way of an alternate possibility. Lots of theater carpenters for instance I knew became finish carpenters for home remodeling. Lots of other choices for people - just don't let the alternative becoeme gas station has been. Could have been.
 
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wakkoroti

Active Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2006
Location
Orange County, CA
Sorry if this seems jarring but, you don't have to have a degree to have a career in lighting. College is great if you want to understand how to be a designer, but it sure isn't going to get you work. Who you know/networking gets you work. But there is more than just being a designer available in lighting. Don't forget the world needs Programmers and Production Electricians too. Sure I started off going to college but then found that I learned so much more working at various places than I could in college.

-j
 

moojoe

Active Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2004
Location
merion, PA
gotta advertise my school here.
also look at SUNY Purchase. the school has an increadible theatre arts and film conservatory with a BFA in Theatre Design and Technology. the school has an increadbily intensive program (many days my classes go from 8:30am, to 10:00pm, then in my studio till 2:00am), but its well worth it. though its a popular school, my largest class is 20 people, so we still get individual attention, and with our production schedule of 8 shows a year, we're constently in the shops working. our professors also include some increadible people. the Senic Design professor is Charles E. McCarry http://imdb.com/name/nm0565012/, our stage management professor is Narda Alcorn http://www.ibdb.com/person.asp?ID=72855, and our lighting design professors include, Brian McDevitt http://www.ibdb.com/person.asp?ID=25766, David Grill http://www.balletmet.org/Notes/Grill.html, and Jason Lyons http://www.ibdb.com/person.asp?ID=103118.
also, once you graduate this program, you become a member of the "Purchase Mafia", our alum make up a sizable force of Broadway, and they always hire Purchase grads, so you'll pretty much be working on Broadway or equivalent for the rest of you're life.
if you want to know anything more about the school, feel free to IM me and I'll talk to you. that, and if you plan on visiting schools, and choose to visit here, feel free to tell me, and I can show you around.
 

KaR356i

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Joined
Jan 12, 2007
Location
Missouri, usually
I sure do agree with a lot of what you guys have said! You are right, Ship, a small school does make it rather difficult to concentrate on your studies... And no, you don't need a degree to get into a technical position in the lighting field. I've found that most of the jobs I've gotten has been through a networking situation, they look at my education much later. However, college may help you form those contacts and gain a bit of experience that will eventually get you jobs and lead to other jobs. But simply working in the business will get you there too eventually :) I've found I've probably learned more from the jobs I've had than my years in college ever taught me...however I wonder if I would have gotten those jobs without the experience and people I met while in school? who knows.

I went into school thinking I wanted to be an LD. I threw myself into everything I could... and since it was a small school, they were happy to let me jump in as long as I took direction well :) and I did :grin: I quickly learned designing was not what I thought it was! I ended up loving programming and being an electrician much better than anything else. I also liked stage managing and did that throughout my years there. I came out still loving to punch buttons on a light board, fix things, and climb around in the ceiling! So that's what I still do. May not be a whole lot of money in it but I really love it, so as long as I can stay busy, pay rent and eat a little, I'm completely happy!

To the original poster... I would agree that a small or medium size school will be good for undergrad. Then go to a big school with a well known program in your specified area for a masters if you want to!
 

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I sure do agree with a lot of what you guys have said! You are right, Ship, a small school does make it rather difficult to concentrate on your studies... And no, you don't need a degree to get into a technical position in the lighting field. I've found that most of the jobs I've gotten has been through a networking situation, they look at my education much later. However, college may help you form those contacts and gain a bit of experience that will eventually get you jobs and lead to other jobs. But simply working in the business will get you there too eventually :) I've found I've probably learned more from the jobs I've had than my years in college ever taught me...however I wonder if I would have gotten those jobs without the experience and people I met while in school? who knows.
I went into school thinking I wanted to be an LD. I threw myself into everything I could... and since it was a small school, they were happy to let me jump in as long as I took direction well :) and I did :grin: I quickly learned designing was not what I thought it was! I ended up loving programming and being an electrician much better than anything else. I also liked stage managing and did that throughout my years there. I came out still loving to punch buttons on a light board, fix things, and climb around in the ceiling! So that's what I still do. May not be a whole lot of money in it but I really love it, so as long as I can stay busy, pay rent and eat a little, I'm completely happy!
To the original poster... I would agree that a small or medium size school will be good for undergrad. Then go to a big school with a well known program in your specified area for a masters if you want to!
mmm... Mid Missouri theatre, remember there is work in nearly every city out there (I used to work in Arrow Rock MO, town of 70, pulled in a house a 400 nearly every show), and the town KaR is from was the "big city"
 

Pie4Weebl

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New York City
mmm... Mid Missouri theatre, remember there is work in nearly every city out there (I used to work in Arrow Rock MO, town of 70, pulled in a house a 400 nearly every show), and the town KaR is from was the "big city"
funny you mention that town, my school tends to provide a few techs every year to their summer stock.
 

KaR356i

Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2007
Location
Missouri, usually
really funny that you mention that actually! I used to visit that theatre regularly as a child to see shows with my family. And I actually interviewed for their ME position a couple weeks ago. It looks promising, but we're gonna talk seriously after my interview at a different theatre in STL next week :grin:

I always knew that theatre was well known, but it was a normal thing for us to go when we were kids, pretty neat that you guys know of it too!
 

KaR356i

Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2007
Location
Missouri, usually
hmm.. someone mentioned not needing a degree to do lighting.... sometimes I wonder! We recently had a touring show in our building with a very young electrician as part of the road crew. But he was touring with a large national road show, so you would hope he had some knowledge and decent training. During loadout the road ME was aparently trying to rewire a plug. I happened to walk up as he was asking a young house crew member about wiring. He then turned to me and asked me in all seriousness if I knew which screw the black wire is supposed to go to. Wow, that just scares me!

The sad thing is, I bet this kid did go to school somewhere for some of his training, but he somehow managed to miss the basics of wiring as he trained to be a theatre technician. I suppose the positive thing is that he was at least asking instead of just guessing.... :neutral:
 

icewolf08

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Jan 11, 2007
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Lititz, PA
Well, I always like to be able to put a plug in for my alma mater, Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. Ithaca has a wonderful program and is one of the top rated undergrad programs in the country. Ithaca is a school of about 6000 students whit a theatre department that is run as close to conservatory style as you can get in a liberal arts setting.

Ithaca offers two tech and design degrees, a BFA in Tech Production, in which you can focus in lighting, sound, scenery, painting, etc. They also offer a BFA in Theatre Design, in which you can focus in any of the design aspects of theatre.

One of the nice advantages to Ithaca is that they don't offer any theatre graduate programs, so from day one you are getting hands on experience. They have a very high faculty/staff to student ratio, which is great because chances are if you need a prof and you aren't in class with them they are free too. All the faculty and staff are or were professionals working in the field. In fact Ithaca encourages the faculty to maintain their professional work while they teach.

Here are some of the big Ithaca names. I had the opportunity to study sound with Dr. John Bracewell, author of "Sound Design for Theatre" (I hear now that he retired he is working on the second edition). Ithaca also graduated people like Paul Gallo (lighting designer) and Tony Meola (sound designer). We also have people that work other aspects of theatre like Adam Klein and Ken Bruns at City Theatrical.

As for the lesser known people like myself, well there are things for us when we get out of school. I have friends who went right to work on tour with "The Producers" this year. I went and worked on cruise ships and now I have moved out to Utah to take the master electrician position here.

What else can i say about the program at Ithaca? Well, they continually monitor every student to make sure that they are happy, making progress and doing what they want to be doing. Every Tech and Design student goes through a review process at the end of each semester that is used as a kind of reality check to make sure things are going well. The facilities and equipment at Ithaca are great. They do all they can to keep up to date and make sure they teach what is current.

Other than all that, I would say take a look at the Ithaca website: http://www.ithaca.edu/theatre and visit schools. The most important thing is to go someplace that you feel comfortable while you look at schools see if you can sit in on classes and talk to the current students. When you visit a school see if you can spend a night in a dorm and eat in a dining hall, make sure it is a place you can see yourself. If you are not happy at a school, it won't matter how good the theatre program is.

So, good luck to you!
 

raeraeiam

Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2006
Location
Rochelle, Illinois
thanks for everyone's input..
i'm really enjoying it!
i do have to say tho, that i have decided to go in the chicago area. that may not be the best move in regard to theater schools, but theres several great schools in the area, and its important to me that im close to home. my sister went to school on the east coast, and i know i dont want to be so far away, like she was.

anyways, i saw UIC yesterday and they seemed pretty nice. i think i'm leaning towards the BA program, but im still not sure. at UIC at least, they dont even offer a BFA in design, so..

keep posting, please! especially if you've been through this before!
 

bdesmond

Active Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2004
Location
Chicago, IL USA
Some odds and ends from me having read most of this thread:

I'll add first - I'm from Chicago (the city, not the suburbs):

Northwestern is a great school, I know little about the programs it offers in this line of work, but I have no doubt in the quality of them regardless. The area it is in physically is very nice and you're very close to Chicago ($1.75 on the purple line will put you downtown in 40 minutes). I read this article in the paper today - you should too if you're considering it as a top choice http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/...43.story?coll=chi-news-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true

As far as the degree to get, get whatever it is you really want to get and feel good about. I'm not really in tune with the design side of things, or even the theater business too much anymore, but anyone worth anything running an interview can tell whether you know your stuff and are passionate about it regardless of whatever piece of paper you just paid a whole load of money for. I personally don't care much where if anywhere you went for school when I interview folks. I want to see that you're passionate about the job and will fit in with my team. I will take someone who doesn't know alot but I know will work to learn over someone who knows alot and seems hotheaded or has some other quality I sense and dislike. The arts are a bit different in that you bring your resume in a portfolio, but again you can make a big impression in that hour sitdown with someone in addition to some pretty pictures.

Someone said living at home will save your credt score. What will save your credit score is being smart about your money. Living in the dorms or an apartment or whatever on campus is fine, you just need to build it into your budget. If your school offers a money management or personal finance type class, you should take it - you'll learn alot. You're going to get alot more out of school living on campus than at home for certain. Most places I've seen make freshman live in the dorms unless they stay at home anyway, so this is the way to meet other students in your class.

Small school big school etc - ship hit this one pretty well on the head. Overall, go with your gut feeling after you visit the places you're considering. If you were originally considering only medium schools but you hit a big place and love it - go for it.

If you've got any questions about any of the places in metro chicago as far as the neighborhoods go or anything, feel free to ping me and I'm happy to help.

good luck!
 

ship

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which screw the black wire is supposed to go to. Wow, that just scares me!
The sad thing is, I bet this kid did go to school somewhere :
Yep... a daily question... often. Worries me not that just about tour people and collelge kids, but in general as possibly the most FAQ I am asked.

Have no fear at least, by way of past readings and studies of individuals of the past, often they had no more clue yet in some way some entity saved the innocent idiots of some form of Darwin type revenge. That or ....

Anyway, something about those who fail to lear...
 

KaR356i

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I know ship, so far the kid hasn't blown anything up, and if he did, he'd never forget that lesson :rolleyes: Just sad that a touring company like that is gonna hire a person without basic electrical skills to be an ELECTRICIAN....LOL! That's the first thing I learned! But come to think of it, they didn't teach us that in college really, I learned that stuff long before college.

Just thought it was funny, given all the discussion we've been having on what schools to go to and what kind of education/ experience to get in order to be a LD or ME....sometimes I guess it doesn't matter :) We see all kinds:grin:
 

ship

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I know that where at least I went to school, I was tought what wire color meant what, how to balance a load and lots of other electrical theory and technique type stuff. Not perfect of course, but sufficient to some extent.

OJT is useful but needs often to become more formal. I teach who I can at work but there often is not enough staff or time in the schedule to send people over for a full training course in wiring stuff. Do the best we can and some times people fall thru the cracks in expecting that they know more than they do.

None the less, hiring people with experience often requires more pay which gets into issues with their ready to work at a level they are to be paid at status. This given some time would be required anyway to change over from bad training elsewhere verses how we do it. This as opposed to starting with a clean slate and teaching from scratch.

In the end, it's all about the tech person. Those who study their field so as to master it excell. Those who get most thru OJT perhaps eventually learn sufficiently with more time and hopefully not learning by way of mistakes too much. Those who don't really learn eventually go away.
 

KaR356i

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I totally agree ship! I have often considered just taking a basic electrician class simply because I want more knowledge of it. I want the background so I can apply it to what I do. I didn't get some of that in college, have learned some as I go, OJT, and got a good base a long time ago in school, but still know there's lots more to learn! :grin: But, that's part of why I love what I do, always something new to learn, or some new problem to solve! The reason I'd take a general electrician course is simply because it would open up a few more possibilities for me- I wouldn't accept a job that I wasn't qualified for. I can certainly do basic wiring tasks, rewire instruments, make cables, wire simple practicals, etc, but anything much more than that I'd feel I'd need to know more before jumping in! That's just me though, I try to play it safe :)
 
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ship

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Illinois
Back when I wanted to become a scene designer I went the same path and it helped a lot. Stuff like art classes so I could sketch, interior design, Cadd, Building Materials of Architecture etc. were very useful.

A electrician's course would be really useful, as would even if the school offers Cadd on the theater side, possibly taking it on the IT side of the school. Possibly photography/video and humanities thru the arts also. Lots of basic computer skills courses and perhaps stuff into high tech communications.
 

PARchild

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Feb 15, 2007
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Reading, PA
I know this is jumping into the middle of a thread, but after some time perusing the threads around here I've come across many people talking about their actual classes that they've had in theatre during high school. I've been involved in theatre for roughly four years and my school does not offer an actual formal class for tech. Everything we do is after school and purely elective. Recently I've become very serious about persuing a career in lighting design and maybe some set design. Does anybody have any idea if it would be harder for me to get into college because of a lack of formal training? The only theatre I'm involved in is my school's so I'm limited to two shows a year and the minmal teaching I recieve from that.
 

Van

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Parchild,
A. I love the signature line. I've so been there!

B. I may getsome disension from some but if you want my opinion, I'd say the answer is no. I think you mightfind it hard to get into Yale or Juliard but most schools are going to be more interested inyour high school academics. Read everything you can. tech yourself as much as possible. I've personally never seen a college entrance exam specifically aimed at Technicians. One way or another your'e going to take Stagecraft 1001, doesn't matter if your'e the TD,ME,LD, MC and chief bottle washer at your high school. If somebody says," no your'e not qualified." find another place if they don't want to teach, you don't want to learn there.


IMHO
 

PARchild

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Reading, PA
Thanks Van.
 

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