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High School Directors: How many paid adult (18+) positions do you employ?

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by Aaron Becker, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. Aaron Becker

    Aaron Becker Active Member

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    North Dakota
    Seeing that these boards seem to have a fair amount of high school theatre employees, I'm curious to hear from those of you that are current or former paid adult Directors or Tech Directors at high schools - what's your typical paid staff consist of for your shows? What positions are typically combined (LD/TD, Scenery/TD, TD/Sound Design, etc) on your shows? Do you combine them due to budget constrains (savings), talent/availability constraints, you use Student Designers, etc?

    It seems the TD typically ends up picking up the slack or extra positions that aren't able to be (or they choose not to be) staffed as a stand-alone position. I'm curious what you all do.
  2. Theresa

    Theresa Member

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    For musicals there are stipends for Director, Assistant Director, Choreographer, Set Design/Construction/Props (combined) and Costumer. Sometimes there is a stipend also for a Scenic Painter. The PAC manager is also the TD/Lights/Sound with a student crew.
  3. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Las Vegas
    Way back when I was in HS, there was only one paid theater position. He was the teacher (acting and tech), the director, the TD. All other positions were unpaid students (costumes were often built by adult volunteers). Our budget (from my recollection) was entirely funded from donations and box office returns. During my three years there, we took two productions to the State Thespian Conference and one to the International Thespian Conference. Granted, this was a while back and I don't know how well they have been able to progress without the support of the school district, but I do know that they haven't increased staff.
    RonHebbard likes this.
  4. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Sarasota, FL
    Typically what I see is that the TD is paid, whether as a full-time manager for the theater or as a gun-for-hire for that particular show. On the small shows the TD supervises all and works on the set design. Lighting design is sometimes done by a student or also by the TD. On the big shows, a separate designer comes in to the do the lighting design. Sometimes this is out of preference for a third-party designer and other times out of necessity that the TD cannot be available to do the lighting design as well as get the set built.

    Only at the arts-focused schools do I usually see separate lighting/set/sound designers on both small and large shows. Even then, usually sound design is someone to help the students mix wireless mic's and less about honest design of sound into the production.

    In an ideal world, schools can afford to bring in designers for lighting, scenery, and sound for the big shows, and then for the smaller shows the students can be relatively self-sufficient with the guidance of a supervisor. This tends to be more practical at venues that fall under the school-supported roadhouse model who use the paid students regularly to host events. The ongoing opportunities for experience and growth help build up the student involvement and get them more hands-on time around weekend warriors and professionals.

    I'm an advocate for student designers/operators supported by professionals wherever possible. Much like bowling with the bumpers deployed. The idea that lighting and sound equipment is expensive and delicate and should be protected from the student body behind lock and key and unattainable wisdom is an incredible tale of b******* perpetrated by people who are incapable of fostering interests in art, technology, and community in their students.
    Aaron Becker, Scarrgo and RonHebbard like this.
  5. mikebags

    mikebags Member

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    Project Manager
    Chicago area
    I TD 3 shows a year for a local public high school. For the last musical the paid stipend positions included: Director, Music Director, Choreographer, Costume Designer, Pit Director, Tech Director, and a Assistant Tech Director. In addition we contracted in a Lighting Designer, Master Electrician, Sound Designer, Charge Artist, and a Video Designer. Five years ago the lighting/sound/set/video was my responsibility as the TD. As the shows grew larger we added positions, starting with a sound designer and then a ATD. Now it is to the point where I as the TD mostly spend my time coordinating the show between the departments, Installing/Programing Automation, and working with the student crew.

    The positions we contract in generally change based on the requirements of the show, this last show had a a lot of original video content and mapping so we brought in a designer. If hiring the designer did fit in our budget we would have scaled back the effect and it would have fallen on the me as the TD to complete. Any outside professionals we bring in are brought in understanding that will be working closely with a student crew.

    For the two plays each year we have a Director, Costumer, TD and sometimes hire in a LD. These shows are much smaller and it's a lot easier to supervise the student crew and let them play a larger part in putting together the production.
  6. josh88

    josh88 Remarkably Tired. Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Warwick, Rhode Island
    For me, the answer is none. The director was the music teacher, the TD was a teacher (me) and the choreographer was my wife who volunteered. The only person we paid in the process was our adult accompanist.

    On the flip side my wife who runs a program at a YMCA and does 11 shows a year has a staff of high school aged interns which are all paid for their hours, as well as an adult paid accompanist/music director, and me as a paid sound tech who loads in and mixes all of her shows.
  7. MRW Lights

    MRW Lights Active Member

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    I hear and see a lot more high school theater programs with full time TD / Auditorium Managers these days, but that wasn't a thing when I was in school. I think it's mostly due to a lot of school's becoming community centers and renting the facility as a venue to the public.

    The venue I manage is located within a YMCA with a resident company as well. We have a full time admin staff, part time production staff, a scholarship program for High School students and parent volunteers.

    I think the trend we're seeing here is that it's completely dependent on the needs of the venue and production. Teamwork and Collaboration will go a long way with any production no matter the size.

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