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New Band Teacher Thrown into teaching Technical Theatre

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by Fireguy551, Aug 12, 2008.

  1. Fireguy551

    Fireguy551 Member

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    So my buddy is a Band teacher and his district, in their infinite wisdom decided to force the band teacher to also teach technical theater and be the TD for the high school shows. Naturally he is freaking out and realized today that he is way in over his head. I work for a Broadway house so naturally he views me as being the expert in teaching technical theater and so now I am here asking for help.

    Does anyone know of any websites or literature that would help him get a grasp on things?

    I am going over to his school this weekend to show him how to use the fly system light board (assuming is a normal brand) and sound board (assuming its an analog console).

    From what I understand he is in charge of building the shows and teaching a tech class where they try to build the sets. He is also in charge of maintenance and all the equipment as well as teaching students use them for the shows.

    This weekend I am going to show him all the safety stuff I can think of as well as help him start making rules for using the equipment.

    As far as curriculum I know nothing and I haven't worked with anyone ages 14-18 in a shop ever so I am in over my head there and any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!
    Robby
     
  2. LekoBoy

    LekoBoy Active Member

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    Why not tell your buddy about this place?
     
  3. Fireguy551

    Fireguy551 Member

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    Oh he will be forced to ;)
     
  4. Hughesie

    Hughesie Well-Known Member

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    Its the fly system and basiclly all the OH&S that scares me, is there anywhere near him that does short courses in OH&S, something like that would be benficial and although your experience is fantastic for teaching the basics its the fear your going to walk away and remember that you have forgotten to tell him something that seems so basic that would help him so much and may save lives.

    Example for counterweight fly system, if your flying something and one of the ropes is lose you have a weight problem in the cradle.

    THIS IS ONLY AN EXAMPLE, PLEASE DO NOT USE THIS EXAMPLE AS INSTRUCTION, I AM NOT TEACHING YOU HOW TO OPERATE A COUNTERWEIGHT FLY SYSTEM I AM OFFERING ONLY AN EXAMPLE. THIS INFOMATION MAY NOT RELATE TO YOUR SITUATION SO DON'T TAKE MY WORD AS LAW.

    Ah, that should cover it
     
  5. Marius

    Marius Active Member

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    Tell him to get a copy of Theatrical Design and Production, by J. Michael Gillette and The Backstage Handbook stat!
     
  6. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Oh wow, how fun!

    Teach him the basic principles, give him some good reference material, point him here.

    I'd probably spend more time doing hands-on safety stuff like how to work the counterweight system and the tablesaw. The rest is moderately trivial.

    Good luck!
     
  7. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    My thoughts:

    1. Get a book or two (or three or four) about technical theater. (Technical Theater for Nontechnical People by Campbell would be a good start to get a broad picture. Then, get some of the Stagecraft Handbooks.)

    2. Get organized – figure out what you know and what you don’t know (and remember that there will be many things that fall into the category of “what you don’t know you don’t know”). The divisions on the CB board are a good place to start, but you’ll also need rigging, costumes, and makeup. Safety is an issue and is embedded in each of the disciplines.

    3. Seek help – maybe the students know what they are doing. There may be other teachers in the school that can help, or teachers in the lower schools. (There is the issue of compensation and contracts, but there should be some way to manage that.) Also, if he’s doing the technical side, there must be someone doing the acting side and/or directing. Maybe that person has technical experience.

    4. Look around and get familiar with the place. Find out what the equipment is, how it works, when the last time it was maintained, are there manuals,….

    5. The light at the end of the tunnel may be a locomotive. Ninety percent of everything is below the water.


    Joe
     
  8. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Good point. Surely somebody's been doing this before now, in some capacity. Maybe figure out who that is, and get them in on it.
     
  9. themuzicman

    themuzicman Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
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    Just make sure he lets his student's know that he is no credible expert on any of it...

    I would hate for the high schoolers to think his word is THE word. I've been in that position, and it is very misleading for kids to think they know it all, when an amateur has been teaching them.

    Good luck to him though, massive undertaking.
     
  10. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    How involved and long term is the arrangement? Is this something he should start learning about, or just a temporary survival situation for the school?

    All of the books listed so far are good resources.

    A great resource is Stagecraft 1, A complete Guide to Backstage Work by William H. Lord. Basic forms and an overview of technical theater.

    For rigging, the Stage Rigging Handbook by Jay Glerum is good. It won't really teach him rigging, but he'll understand what he's looking at in a counterweight system.

    A great beginners audio and lighting textbook is Scene Design and Stage Lighting, by Parker and Wolf.

    I thought I had some other basic resources, but I can't find them in my office, which means students have scampered off with them.

    A great starting tip might be to remember that every production doesn't need to be a full Broadway show. If rigging is new to him, then he doesn't need to fly anything. Just set the proper weights for a rep plot (nice wash over the stage) and curtains, and keep it simple and don't mess with it for the time being. Minimalist sets can be just as effective as giant constructions, and they're much safer if he doesn't know what he's doing.
     
    Hoffer and (deleted member) like this.
  11. LightStud

    LightStud Active Member

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    Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Stage Lighting*



    *in One Easy Website


    The Lighting Library Caution, there are certain inaccuracies, but perfectly acceptable for the High School level.

    Teach SAFETY FIRST!
     
  12. Fireguy551

    Fireguy551 Member

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    I am planning on getting the shop teacher to help him with the tool situation. Hopefully the director knows some tech theatre but considering she is an english teacher I am not hopeful.
     
  13. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I'd be perfectly willing to quit my job and come teach right about now.....
    No Seriously, tell him to get his butt on here. There are a lot of us willing to give guidance and support. I think the books outlined so far have been great, I'm a huge fan of Parker and Wolf's Scene design and stage lighting
    That being said there is no way he's going to be 100% ready for teaching and performing Stagecraft it took me three months to put together a syllabus for a summer camp stagecraft class, 'course I'm not a teacher either. It may be cheesy, but he might want to either, put an ad on Craigs List to see if a local stagehand , or a Retired TD might be willing to come in and help continue his education after you've given him the initial info, you'd be amazed what some of us will do for a pizza.
     
  14. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Here's a site designed by a HS teacher: Stage Design & Technology Seminars, also the home of HSTech.org - Home. He has a lot of getting started type of advice. I agree that you should recommend CB since there is a lot of professional experience of all levels here with everyone willing to share. Also, with the great number of HS or recently graduated HS students on this forum, they will be able to advise on the ins and outs of their respective programs.

    My biggest suggestion is to advise him what not to do, or at least avoid until he has proper training. What you don't know in theater can kill (or seriously injure) you or someone else. His administrators don't understand that (I won't go into my dislike for educational structure at this time). He can accomplish quite a lot without flying pieces or anything exceptionally dangerous.

    Seriously, get him on this board and start asking questions!
     
  15. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    This situation reminds me of a something similar I encountered while working for a community college here in Southern California. Before I started there they had an Interior Design program which they cancelled. A tenured teacher in that program was transfered to the Theatre Department as the Technical Director/Stage Craft instructor. More than a decade later, she still holds this position. Fortunately for both her and her students she has an excellent resource in the department's Master Carpenter, an old friend of mine from my high school days.

    I don't know if this is a viable solution in this situation, but if your friend could convince the powers that be at his school to hire a part time assistant with a background in technical theatre, it might solve at least some of the issues that result from his lack of knowledge.
     
  16. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    My first theater instructor was a German teacher. He volunteered for the post when he heard they were going to assign a maintenance guy to it. At least he had some knowledge of theatre as an actor though. I doubt it's your job but is there a way you or someone can go there and work a couple of shows with him? All the books in the world don't help when there is 2.5K squealing in the house. At that point he will need a warm body and more experienced mind to help him though. Heck, even with experience in the industry, it was nice to have someone around who new the rigs my first week here.
     
  17. averyfrix

    averyfrix Member

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    hmmmmm
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2008
  18. tech2000

    tech2000 Active Member

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    It just seems like it would be a huge liability to have an untrained person (even though he is a teacher, in this case of band and now theater tech) to be running the theater and teaching the technical side of theater. If he doesn't have training in this area, its a lawsuit waiting to happen.
     
  19. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Have him get a copy of this Welcome to Risk International Publishing, home of the Theater Health and Safety Book!.
     
  20. loki

    loki Member

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    Someone said see if the students know what their on about, This is a good idea, i know at our school only the students know anything about sound and lighting (Me being sound Raktor being lighting) The teachers at our school know next to nothing (and what they know is normaly wrong, out of date or not the way we wanted to do things :p)

    So yeh, the students can be a huge asset to him, you will probobly find some have decent (highschool standard) sound and lighting knowledge
     
    Fireguy551 and (deleted member) like this.

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