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  • 1.  TD

    Posted 01-25-2022 16:16
    Hi All,

    I am the only theater teacher in my high school (it's a small private institution with about 250 kids) and we hire out set/costume/lighting designers when we do shows. I am not a TD. I teach theater, but from a performance angle. For a while now, my department has been advocating for a TD. I continue to advocate for a TD - someone who could maintain the space, solve all technical issues (our space is used for numerous events besides theater), teach a tech class and build for all the shows (and possibly design if that's their strength). I feel like I'm chipping away at the admins, but I want to really push for this in the near future (hopefully when the pandemic slows).

    I would love to hear from any and all TDs - could you give me a description of what you do? I know it's a lot!

    I want to create a document describing all the aspects of the job so that I can present it to the administration and prove to them that a more holistic job with someone who has the right qualifications would be a benefit to the theater department and the institution.

    Thanks in advance.

    Joan Jubett
    New York, NY

  • 2.  RE: TD

    Posted 01-26-2022 16:48
    The biggest issue I've seen over the years in job postings for school TDs is that the schools want someone who can do it all. As you mentioned, do the tech theatre work as well as maintain the physical space (which is a whole different world), plus design sets if possible, teach a class, maintain equipment, hang lights, do the sound, etc. etc. etc. This is essentially the equivalent of two or three specialties -- two or three separate jobs -- but the schools only want to pay for one.

    In the end, what often happens is that the new TD is good at some things (because that's where his/her experience and interests are), but terrible at the others, or just can't keep up with the workload. And, of course, administration isn't happy with that.

    My suggestion would be to prioritize the needs: is having someone do the tech theatre stuff more important than the facility work, or the other way around? Or can you hire two different individuals: a TD and a facility manager?

    George F. Ledo
    Set designer

  • 3.  RE: TD

    Posted 01-27-2022 11:10
    Hi All,

    I just want to thank you for all of the posts/advice regarding advocating for a TD. I'm also noticing that there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to job description and expectations and it's such a good idea to really plan it out in advance given what we know about the particular job in a particular setting. Also of note: the need for a division between a TD and a facility manager. Or, if these jobs are combined, there needs to be fair compensation for this (as in, it should be a faculty position). I'm going to continue to mull this over as I strategize how to advocate and bring to my admins. I really appreciate your thoughts and expertise and I am grateful for this community.

    Joan Jubett
    Director of High School Fall Play and Spring Festival of Plays
    High School Theater Teacher
    New York, NY

  • 4.  RE: TD

    Posted 01-27-2022 13:21
    This challenge is faced by many secondary schools and smaller regional theaters.  The technical complexity of theatre production is often little understood by administrators and decision makers in organizations.  I agree with George Ledo's thoughts to separate job functions into those directly related to the support of the academic mission of the theater program, and those functions that support the organization facilities and infrastructure.  (One way I think about this is that most academic institutions do not require faculty in other departments to maintain the spaces in which they teach.)

    I would add at the top of any technical production/TD job description requirements for risk reduction, and for assuring the safety and health of students, staff and patrons.  The integration of safety and health into the theater curriculum and the school's production environment is critical, and can be a 'selling point' that might garner more attention from the administration or Board to the need to hire a TD. 

    Another approach is to educate the decision-makers by inviting them to tour your theater facilities, to observe some of the technical production activities involved in a typical show, and to interact/interview some of the students in your program about their learning experiences related to the program.

    Best luck with your earnest efforts to provide the best theater program for your students.
    Be good to learn of the successes.
    Take care.

    Bill Reynolds (he.him.his)
    Lecturer in Theater Safety & Health
    Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre
    Author: Safety and Health for the Stage