What inspired you to get into technical theatre?

Discussion in 'New Member Board' started by dvsDave, May 31, 2010.

  1. A1or2

    A1or2 Member

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    So I always wanted to be a lighting designer in 5th grade, but then I learned I was colourblind. So that pretty much went out the window, but somehow I ended up behind a sound board for a tiny little play we did, and I instantly fell in love. It was so amazing to me that I could make such a difference with nothing more then the slide of a fader. And ever since I've been doing theatrical sound. Then when high school started I joined MSG varsity and started to learn going post/live production sound. And one year after that I joined a studio where I have been learning mixing (though I'm not any good at it), and how to set up live sound gigs.
     
  2. Michael Scroggins

    Michael Scroggins Member

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    My undergraduate degree is in English (1998). I went back to school and got a master's so that I could teach (2013). This summer I interviewed for three English teaching positions but got excited over a stagecraft and drama teaching position that opened up at my alma mater. I interviewed and secured the job and absolutely love it. A happy accident, possibly.

    I've joined this group in an effort to learn the technical aspects of theater as I will be the one to go to at my school for such information. I don't know much, so I need to learn. Very glad to be here. Looking forward to any help I can receive and, at some point, offer.
     
  3. Taylor Ness

    Taylor Ness Member

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    Occupation:
    House Electrician, Huntington Theatre Company
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I was influenced by a teacher back in middle school. I "lighting designed" my first play in the 7th grade, been doing it ever since!
     
  4. Just Another Lighting Guy

    Just Another Lighting Guy Member

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    I wanted to study acting actually. As a freshman performance major in HS, I was forced to take Stagecraft, against my will, but I found out I picked up carpentry and lighting quickly and really enjoyed both. I kept begging my Stagecraft TA to let me run lights for a show as all I worked were electrics, or carpentry calls that year. At one point he pulled me aside and told me I didn't want to hit go during the show, I wanted to learn to program. So he taught me how to patch the Express some 15 years ago, and showed me how to write subs and cues after I was done. And although I thought then I'd never get a chance to do any of it again, but I soaked it all up anyway.

    Well, our HS took a show to Scotland and somehow I got to be the board op for that show. The LD programmed the show in the US herself, but I watched and picked up on her methods, since she was unable to travel with us. In August 2000, before my Junior year in HS, I left the country for the first time and programmed a show from a magic sheet and a cue list for the first time. I was given a little bit of creative freedom by the director and added cues and specials while still keeping true to Pam's design for the show. After all this, I still wanted to be an actor, though I did enjoy lighting.

    I started volunteering at a community theatre in my hometown. The TD there was also the resident LD and let me be his ALD for a few shows. After I graduated HS, I was hired as the ATD and worked there summers while going to college for...? You guessed it... acting. I was actually in the BFA Theatre Arts program, so I was able to take lighting and sound design with lighting and sound majors. I was supposed to do wardrobe, front of house and run crew for 3 shows my freshman year. But I ended up working on 6 shows, all LX, one as a programmer and one as the fill in ALD, updating the paperwork when the actual ALD got sick. All throughout college I designed shows and worked as the ATD in my hometown and/or freelanced at theatres around school, mostly as an electrician. After college I moved back home, worked as the ATD and designer for a full year then moved to NY to do what...? Be an actor. Still, wasn't taking a hint...

    Moved to NY, acted Off Broadway, managed a bar, started designing Off Broadway became a production TD, then became a space TD/resident LD and worked some LX calls with Local 1. Finally it dawned on me I should stick to the production side, where people keep offering me work.

    This past November, my wife got a job in Central Florida at a new golf resort, and here we are. I'm working LX in Lakeland learning the Ion, and getting phone calls for work in Orlando. For as long as it took me to "see the light" and the writing on the wall, I feel like I'm in a pretty good place in my career for the moment. I want to learn more about programming intelligent fixtures (I've done LEDs on an Element, and a handful of movers and scrollers on an Express), but have a decade of technology advancement to catch up on. So here I am. Thanks for having me.
     
  5. Goatman

    Goatman Active Member

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    I was actually interested in film more and asked the high school director if she needed someone to film the show for her (Musical Comedy Murders of the 1940s), to which she said yes. Four shows later, the show needed a new props person, so I did props for a couple of shows (Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead and A Chorus Line). When my props job was done for A Chorus Line (it was high school and obviously low-prop so they didn't want someone backstage in charge of the props), I was delivering the last prop after rehearsal when the director received a call from the light board op saying that he had a concussion and would not be able to climb the stairs of our outdated theater (which lacked an elevator). The director pointed at me as I was leaving and asked if I wanted to learn how to use a light board, to which I said, "Sure. That might be fun."

    Now six years later with 51 shows under my belt, I basically only do lighting and technical directing for my old high school and am going to major in theater. So I can honestly say that if my friend hadn't been severely injured, I wouldn't be the same person I am today.
     
  6. DTaxon

    DTaxon Member

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    I was interested in the sound board when I was in a band, and after the band disjoined due to college, I was still fascinated with the tech side of things and when I entered high school, I joined tech crew and will continue to stick with it until I graduate, and probably even after that.
     
  7. Catwalker

    Catwalker Member

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    The things no one else wants to do
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    Behind you...
    After I pulled the sword out of the anvil, a majestic voice boomed out, saying, "cue three go". But seriously, I ran our schools complex lighting system in junior high (one followspot) and that started me off.


    Sent from my iPod touch using Tapatalk
     
  8. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    My parents both work(ed) in the medical field (Dad's a doc, Mom ran the lab at a hospital until my sister was born). When my sister came along, she took dance lessons at a local studio. They would put on their annual dance recital each spring, as since I was too young to appreciate the female form (my sister is 4 years younger), I was bored out of my mind sitting through a 2 and a half hour dance performance. So I'd entertain myself looking at the lighting and speakers, and watching the techs when they were in the house.

    Flash forward to grade school

    The 7th and 8th grade at my school always did a musical in the spring that the entire school would watch. Nothing fancy, since the stage was still (mostly) unchanged from when it was built in the 50's. I have terrible stage fright (unless I'm behind a guitar), and remember how cool the tech stuff was from those dance recitals, I signed up as crew. They put me running curtain and lights, and by lights, we're talking probably original run Altman R40 strips, and floodlights like you'd have on your garage, all controlled by circuit breakers, i.e., no dimming. For sound, the music teacher's son, who was about the same age as us, brought in his own PA system, supplemented by a few pieces rented from Bush Creative Services (one of my classmate's dad worked there). He and I got along well, and I was hooked.

    So, that was 7th and 8th grade, then in high school, I got involved in my theater's tech program as a lighting guy. I stayed in lighting until I worked a show (coincidently at the same place my sister's receitals happened, and I believe @rwhealey also spent a lot of time in that venue) which had a much larger lighting system and an actual LD. I didn't do well under the pressure, combined with strong competition at my school for who got to run the board, so I jumped over to the less-favored (and to me, much less stressful) sound.

    Haven't really looked back. I did a few other jobs, run crew, SM, LD, etc, but mixing, system tech'ing, and sound design are what I've made my career in. It was either this, airline pilot, or locomotive engineer. Railroad turned me down, flight school was too expensive, and I get too much of a thrill working on shows and hanging out with the crazies we call theatre people.
     
  9. AVKellyDS

    AVKellyDS Member

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    my old roommate was the technical director at a local mega church. I started by helping with set of for jr high and high school l services. Later I became the lighting design for the jr high services. I had a basic express system and no moving lights. I was hooked. After a year or so I got to move onto main service lighting. There I had 6 IT lights, cans, franels, and an LED wall. I used a Congo jr. It was awesome. I have a successful career as a nanny but I'm thinking about moving into lighting design full time in the next few years. I'm trying to learn everything I can do I can be a full time concert lighting designer.
     
  10. Beny

    Beny Member

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    I had a great drama teacher in high school and was determined to become a lighting designer. I went to Northwestern to study with Theodore Fuchs and was his graduate assistant for a couple of years, though I also took acting classes and eventually got all my degrees (BS, MA, PhD) in oral Interpretation. I worked professionally for a few years, but soon started performing in Second City, from there started teaching acting -- continued for fifty years. Once in a while I still design one of mjy own shows, but am not up to speed with the new equipment from people like my pal Joe Tawil.
     
  11. SeanO

    SeanO Member

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    In all honesty, I'm not really in the industry, I'm still in high school (16 years old) and I've taken an interest in lighting design mostly, due to visits to theme parks when I was younger (mostly universal studios, even when I was 11 I spent most of my time at their shows and simulators trying to work out how everything was done). More recently, I've also seen lots of videos of musicals and other stage things on youtube recently, and the lighting in these shows have interested me.

    I really have no drama experience at all though, because when I was younger I really had no interest in it (and outside of the technical aspects, I'm still not that big on it), and when picking my subjects a couple of years ago, I had nothing to go by for drama because we only had a cover teacher prior to that, so I did not choose it.

    I'm now hoping to at least take on some form of lighting on as a hobby, if not as anything else, and if I stay on for 6th year at high school (Scotland), I may end up crashing Higher Drama.
     
  12. Mark Harris

    Mark Harris Member

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    It was probably because I didn't get cast in a particular show ;-) but I was working in a community theatre where everyone did everything that had to be done and I was keen to learn new skills. I helped rig and then sat on the board for plotting. It was a 10 channel 2 preset manual board (Theatrelight for those playing along at home) and I was very much at the "push 8 to 100" stage, but it appealed to my gadget side and I slipped into the role quite happily. I operated other people's designs for a while, along with sound, and finally thought "I can do that" so I progressed. In these days of computer boards and moving lights, having a background in the manual world is often helpful. And we're still using much of the same gear!
     
  13. babylightgoddess

    babylightgoddess Member

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    I was always convinced I wanted to be an actress, but after my first high school show (pride and prejudice) I was so stressed, and the lighting tech were just sitting in the lightbooth, and I thought, that's what I want to do, do everything before the show and then just go, and that's where I've stayed
     
  14. JJBerman

    JJBerman Active Member

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    Occupation:
    Product Tester
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    My freshman year of high school, my advisor strongly suggested that I try a school sponsored extra curricular activity. Because of Boy Scouts and Martial Arts, the only club that met during my "free" time was Stage Crew. Once I started I never looked back. Because of my enthusiasm I was hired on as a technician starting my sophomore year. Currently I'm going into my junior year of college as a Lighting and Sound Technical BFA with an IT minor.
    If it wasn't for my freshman advisor there is the possibility that I would never have step foot backstage, let alone live backstage!
     
  15. garyvp

    garyvp Active Member

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    Occupation:
    IT Professional
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    Brooklyn NY
    I had no interest in theater until I met my wife. She was heavily involved in a local community theatre…actor, stage manager, a great lighting tech, and property mistress. It annoyed me when we first were dating how committed she was the place…..especially at night. They were doing Dracula and I went down to see the place and help out with the set. I am very technical and mechanical and had worked HVAC and electrician, good carpenter and professionally a science teacher. I was a teenage geek, science fairs, the whole thing. Well, I was there 20 minutes and soon realized that they mostly actor types and not great with tools. At the end of the first week of long nights I had built three large bats that flew and whose eyes lit up. Built a dry ice fog machine. DId all the FX. Hung the lights. The hook was set.

    The control booth was a death trap of cables so I volunteered to rebid one that was roomier and safer. All their lighting was through a conduit system which had thirty six circuits that they were expanding to 84. And bringing in new three-phase service. I worked with the electrician set up the trough and manual patch panel. What a great project. Later it was upgraded to a hardwired 24 dimmer NSI system with a programmable board…Still works great if you take care of it.

    Well, they asked if I would be the TD…..which I asked, 'What's a TD?". I have been technical director for almost 30 years, and married that woman…..otherwise we would never see each other. I maintain the theater's infrastructure, tools, shop area, costumes and prop rooms, dressing room, but it is my electrical skill that is most important. I maintain all the fixtures, cords, and even rebuilt the dimmer packs. This summer I rebuilt/rewired all the patch panels and connection strips. I use my electrician for all mains and sub panel work.

    Since joining the CB, I have become a student of the NEC code, at Steve Terry's recommendation and have my own hard copy, and recommend that anyone in this business, professionally or volunteer like me, should do likewise. My electrician is a NYC licensed master electrician, but without specific knowledge of theatre electrical details…NEC 520, nor do any of the electricians I have worked with. So you have have a good dialogue with them when they are doing your work.

    And the Controlbooth is a great resource, especially the electrics section. It has the best and most articulate people in this business.

    Ten years ago I was appointed President of the Board of the building we are located in and am also the manager…..more technical projects.

    I have only worked in one other theater - another community theater nearby to do some special effects. Plus, i go to shows in other theaters. Most are quirt scary technically and lack the continuity of a permanent TD, one who is not hired to a show.

    Just love it. Training some new people to take may place, but it is difficult.

    Hey….just ordered some medium focus Fresnel bases……! Yum!
     
  16. Bedsprings

    Bedsprings Member

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    In high school, I was in love with tech theater, my older sister, who was struggling as a stage manager was reason enough for my father to tell me to "get a real job" so after 5 different career paths, i found my way back as a way to make ends meet, 3 years later I'm the house TD for one of the largest and most intensive High Schools on long island.
     
  17. lapro63139

    lapro63139 Member

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    Concerts tickets are so expensive, why not get paid if your going to keep going to them.
     
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  18. artable

    artable Member

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    Occupation:
    Stage Manager/Light Designer
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    My HS director asked me to Stage Manage for her sophomore year. Now I spend all my freetime (and a good deal of what were once sleep hours) either in my theater, or passive-agressively emailing my actors.
     
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  19. Les

    Les Well-Known Member

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    I can tell you were cut out to be an SM. "My theater", "my actors". No offense of course - you're all like that. ;)
     
  20. artable

    artable Member

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    We also talk to the systems we work with when no one is listening."Why are you so unhappy?" (things that are broken are unhappy. also cable that was wrapped poorly.) I'll say to the recently shorted frensel, or the mic pack that refuses to transmit/pickup...
     
    Les likes this.
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