Wish Me Luck

I'm new here. I'm a drama teacher at a high school in Toronto, Canada. I've got a theatre that seats 1800 and a sound and light system that is probably 50 years old. The building is 100 years old. There is a skylight in the audience, an upper balcony and the whole thing has wooden seats. There is nothing to baffle the sound at all and we have no budget. Most of the lights are too high to reach, and half of them have burned out. the unionized caretakers won't fix anything, the "experts" from the school board shrug and shake their heads.... and I've got to put on 3 shows this year!

Also, I'm inexperienced with technical staging. Our light board and mixing board are backstage behind bars because otherwise they get stolen, so I can't really see the stage or hear the sound during the performance. I could probably use a good basic instruction manual.

Any suggestions?


CB Mods
Premium Member
Departed Member
Since you asked for it, Good Luck. And welcome to Controlbooth.

If you have a look around, you will probably find a fair few of the answers you are looking for. If not, please do not be afraid to ask the question, there is no such thing as a stupid question. Again welcome.


Active Member
Hey Toronto! I'm glad to see a few more local (to me) people around CB.


Active Member
Hey Philosophergrrl,

I will be back in Toronto December 17th so if your intrested in a meeting at your space to help you determine how to utilize your space better, I would be willing to help. We can come up with a game plan for you; and look at how to repair it.

Feel free to email me off the forum at [email protected]



Active Member
Welcome you find a lot of help on this site.

I have some questions for you:

1) is your theatre used for other things apart from theatre ie are school assemblies held here.
2) Do you have any parents of your students on the school board? They make take up the fight for you.

It is a risk but one place you could start is the health and safety of the building and equipment. For example has it been checked for asbestos, flaking lead paint. Also the electrical is probably below the required standard. You should be able to find a professional contractor in Toronto to come and give it a once over. You may even have someone suitable amongst the students parent's. If there is problem get the contractor to send a report to the school board as well as the principal that way it can't get buried.

Then they either do three things
1) Condem the building and do nothing. You then have a problem.
2) Refurbish the building so hopefully you can get upgrades of equipment
3) Tear it down and build a new facility.

You could also go to your local professional venues and explain the situation. They may give you some older equipment when they upgrade. It will still be better then what you have.

For books the Yama Sound reinforcement manual seems to be a popular choice. You probably have a performing arts school / university course in Toronto see what texts they recommend .

This is just some ideas to get started with. I am sorry if you have already tried all these.


That's the most ghetto theatre I've heard of yet. I just ordered "The Perfect Stage Crew" so I don't know how it is yet, but it seems to be a good collection on tips for how to run shows with limited time and money. Also, I've always found that just doing a google search can help- a lot of sites are set up to help explain different methods and such.

I also suggest 'hiring' students (that's what we do). It's a good learning experience for them and it's free (yet often fun) labor.

Break a leg (everyone knows it's bad luck to wish somone good luck in our business) and hope you end up sorting things out alright. Oh, and welcome!


CB Mods
Premium Member
I'm sorry to hear about the condition of your facility, and the lazie-faire Attitude of the board and support staff. There is a wealth of knowledge here to draw upon, though it also sounds as if you may be in a situation of not actually know what questions to ask. As always I'll suggest the book "Scene Design & Stage Lighting" by Parker and Smith as an excellent basic primer and intro to technical theater. " The Backstage Handbook" is a bible to most of us working in the business. At first it may seem like a lot of info too far advanced for a beginer, but I have found that just glancing through it can inspire one to ask questions, or gain insight about why and how something is done in the theatre.
Feel free to ask away, We Love Questions ! What shows are you staging this year ? Perhaps we can start there with some simple ideas, designs or examples of who we have accomplished the same shows? Perhaps we could put together a group of vigilantes to knock some sense into the heads of your school board ? Ok maybe that last one isn't a good idea. :twisted:


Active Member
Well, I'm not sure what to say. I hope you and Jon Hirsh get connected up. Make sure to update us un what's up. Good luck and Welcome to CB.
Sounds almost as bad as us - some of our fixtures date back to 1970, our sound is 20 years old (except desk and mics), and the whole thing is crud.

I've just spent a week getting as much as possible fixed up with our space being hired for a primary school graduation ceremony. We had trouble with two speakers (left channel) dropping out due to leads with brown solder joints, they were that old.

Plus we have tin shed acoustics.

Good luck!

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