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Hiring is hard

  • 1.  Hiring is hard

    Posted 11-29-2022 10:29
    I'm lucky enough to have 1.0 Fte for me AND a tech director at my site, but I'm having a horrible time finding a TD to handle audio and sets. I'm in San Jose CA. Besides edjoin and Facebook groups, any suggestions on finding a good technical director and tech teacher? They don't even need a credential because I'm at a private school.

    Thanks brain trust, And if anyone is tired of teaching 5 preps while directing 2 shows a year and wants a new job, ping me.

    Bryan Ringsted
    Theater department head

  • 2.  RE: Hiring is hard

    Posted 11-29-2022 10:33
    Are you looking for a TD to design sets, build them, or both?

    George F. Ledo
    Set designer

  • 3.  RE: Hiring is hard

    Posted 11-30-2022 06:12
    I think the colleges are letting people specialize so it is nearly impossible to find technical directors who know how to safely build sets, design and operate lights and work with audio. This group should advocate for a theatre teacher degree to fill these roles. In the meantime, I’d suggest reaching out to colleges or local community theatres for talent.

    Sent from my iPad

  • 4.  RE: Hiring is hard

    Posted 12-01-2022 06:58
    I agree with Elisabeth, there seems to be too much focus on BFA Degrees at the college level, and it has been that way for some time, when I went to college in the 80's there were many college programs which had a Bachelor of Arts degrees in Dramatic Arts which provided a more well-rounded approach to being able to perform all aspects theater compared to being only a Technical Director, Lighting Designer, Scenic Designer, Costume Designer, Properties Designer, good luck in finding someonewho can assist you, I know there are lots out there they are becoming hard to find.

    Jerry Onik
    V.P. Theatrical Supplies and Equipment
    Heartland Scenic Studio

  • 5.  RE: Hiring is hard

    Posted 11-30-2022 08:17
    Good TDs are like gold!

    Mark A. Zimmerman
    Theatre Director,

    The Akron School for the Arts
    Firestone Community Learning Center
    470 Castle Blvd
    Akron, Ohio 44313


    Board Member, Ohio Educational Theatre Association
    NE Ohio Area Representative
    Workshop Committee
    Displays/Vendors Committee

  • 6.  RE: Hiring is hard

    Posted 12-01-2022 12:03
    If your applicant doesn't need to have a B.A. or above, you might reach out to San Jose City College.  They have a Theatre Arts A.A. and transfer program, and it looks like the students get practical experience working on productions there.

    CJ Breland
    Retired Theatre Arts Educator

  • 7.  RE: Hiring is hard

    Posted 12-01-2022 15:36
    From my own experience on both coasts, I agree with Elizabeth and Jerry. However, even having a degree doesn't assure that you know your material.

    A theatre I worked with some years ago hired two grads of a "technical theatre program" at a local two-year college to work in the scene shop. To make a long story short, they had to be trained in just about everything. A couple of years later, I met the guy running that tech program, and he freely admitted that they didn't go by the book, didn't use textbooks, and just built stuff on the fly as they needed it. Turned out the guy's MA was in directing, not in tech, and he had little interest in tech. 

    Later, I saw another designer's work at the same theatre. This one had an MFA in set design from a local university but knew very little about most of the skills required. The set looked like it had been created by an interior decorator, not a set designer, and it didn't work all that well for the story. 

    Several colleges I've run into have "technical theatre classes" that consist solely of working on one or more areas of a play: scenery, lighting, costumes, stage management, or whatever. No classroom instruction whatsoever.

    It's sad, but it's really difficult to find people who are well trained in both design and technical areas, and who are interested in working on all of them. Most are interested in either the design or technical end, but not in both. And nowadays, with so many schools wanting someone who can do all that, plus manage the physical plant and coordinate outside events, it's even harder.

    George F. Ledo
    Set designer

  • 8.  RE: Hiring is hard

    Posted 12-01-2022 20:06
    Actually, a few years ago I was looking for a job and I am proficient in Tech Design and application (I taught CTE technical theater for years) but I actually could never find any programs for a teacher. Everyone just wanted a "staff" member and they paid terribly and expected people to work nights/weekends to be theater manager.

    I would have loved a job JUST teaching tech and building shows. Technical education is just not appreciated.


    Bryan Ringsted (he/him) Theater Teacher/Director  Notre Dame High School 596 South Second Street San Jose, CA  95112  A distinctive Catholic, college-preparatory  education for young women in the heart of  downtown since 1851

  • 9.  RE: Hiring is hard

    Posted 12-02-2022 13:34

    Simple fact is, the body of knowledge a competent, qualified, all-areas theater technician needs to master to run a K-12 venue is FAR more complex now than it was 20 or even 10 years ago. When I started we had Lekos, pars, scoops, and Fresnels - each with a sheet of gel, plugged into a circuit, patched to a dimmer and run by a 36 channel, two-scene preset board that took two people to run. Now it's unlimited kinds of fixtures, universes of networked DMX addresses, both dimmers and thru-power, subtractive and additive color mixing that requires a passing understanding of metameters, PTZ control of some fixtures, all operated by a task-specific, computerized control system, the mastery of which can take a lifetime to learn as functionality is continually updated by the manufacturer. 

    Couple that with the fact there is much greater demand for those skills. Remember, 30% of live events tech folks didn't return post-COVID, so demand is through the roof. I'm seeing professional compensation double or more in some areas.  Schools are offering dismal pay and benefits compared to professional event producers of all kinds. I applied for a trio of K-12 school TD jobs last year and was offered each of them, each of which offered compensation anywhere from $20-50K LESS than I was making working a 9-5 job for a commercial AV integrator. One school district I talked with three years in a row - they keep hiring people who are incompetent and then letting them go. I would have thought that principal might have figured it out by the time we had the same conversation the third time, but I see the job is open again. My heart goes out to those kids.

    I regularly see new schools built with equipment NOT suitable for HS students to use and learn with, that same equipment then sits idle because the teachers don't know how to run it either. That's a poor ROI for us as taxpayers and a lost opportunity for our students.

    This is all part of why I started the "Technical Theater for Performing Arts Teachers" summer classes at the University of Wisconsin -  Madison, so music, dance and theater teachers who need to learn to use this equipment have a place they can do that which works with the schedule for a full-time teacher. Next summer has classes in Lighting, Safety and Management. 

    I'd love to see "Technical Theater" become a certification area just as "theater" alone is one in most states. And we need to have the standards reflect EXECUTION not just Design (which is often more akin to a Google scavenger hunt that actual design skills.)

    Now I'm at Madison College leading the "Stage and Entertainment Technology Certificate" - a one year program to be employable as a competent, qualified live events tech/stagehand, but can also be part of a transferrable, liberal arts Associate degree for pre-service teachers or other Bachelors programs.. 

    Have students who like tech theater and want to earn a living at it? Send 'em my way. You all are welcome, too!

    Stage and Entertainment Technology Certificate | Madison College

    Madisoncollege remove preview
    Stage and Entertainment Technology Certificate | Madison College
    Prospective program students, the information below reflects the basic requirements for students admitted for the 2022-2023 academic year. To learn more about Madison College, visit us. Current and newly admitted program students, go directly to your Degree Progress Report to view: Progress toward your specific requirements Alternative (in lieu of) courses to meet specific requirements If you have questions after reviewing your degree progress report (advisement report), please see Advising Services.
    View this on Madisoncollege >

    Kristi Ross-Clausen
    Safety Maven/Consultant
    IATSE 470/Actors Equity Member
    Alliance for Wisconsin Theatre Education
    Association for Quality in AV Board
    Teacher, Author, Speaker
    Appleton, WI

  • 10.  RE: Hiring is hard

    Posted 12-02-2022 13:42

    None of this has helped my problem but I certainly feel better.


    CA JUST got a theater credential, and VERY few colleges offer it. I actually have a technical theater specific (production and managerial arts) CTE credential, which is cool but very few people know about it. 

    I truly hope your program is full, and if you ever want to send a grad to sunny CA (I'm sure since students get tired of snow right?) Send them my way

  • 11.  RE: Hiring is hard

    Posted 12-04-2022 00:39

    I'd love to send you some folks! 

    Program isn't full, and I have some latitude to expand to meet demand if the current classes fill up. Plus there are scholarships, paid internships, work-study and part-time gigs to "earn while you learn." 

    Kristi Ross-Clausen
    Safety Maven/Consultant
    IATSE 470/Actors Equity Member
    Alliance for Wisconsin Theatre Education
    Association for Quality in AV Board
    Teacher, Author, Speaker
    Appleton, WI

  • 12.  RE: Hiring is hard

    Posted 12-03-2022 17:23
    will you be having your tech theater for teachers seminars in Madison WI again next summer?

    I'd be very interested. 

    Joan Jubett
    Director of High School Fall Play and Spring Festival of Plays
    High School Theater Teacher
    Advisor for Class of 2024
    pronouns: she/her
    40 Charlton Street
    New York, NY 10014

    Office Hours by appointment

  • 13.  RE: Hiring is hard

    Posted 12-04-2022 00:28

    Yep! This year's classes will be:



    and Management. 

    The official registration things will be available soon. I'll make certain to post here. Look forward to having you in class!

    Kristi Ross-Clausen
    Safety Maven/Consultant
    IATSE 470/Actors Equity Member
    Alliance for Wisconsin Theatre Education
    Association for Quality in AV Board
    Teacher, Author, Speaker
    Appleton, WI

  • 14.  RE: Hiring is hard

    Posted 12-04-2022 17:07

    I've been following this post, but haven't had time to respond, because, well, I've been in the theatre. 'Tis the season!

    In my book "High School Theatre Operations" I have a whole chapter on Staffing.  Perhaps something to take to your admin to read (if they will?).  In my ideal high school theatre world, my 'staffing model' looks something like this: 

    Drama Teacher
    Instrumental Music Teacher
    Vocal Music Teacher
    Dance Teacher
    CTE Tech Theatre Teacher
    Theatre Manager
    TD (Lead Technician)
    One dedicated Lighting Technician and one sub
    One dedicated Sound Technician and one sub
    One dedicated Stage/Rigging Technician and one sub
    Paid Student Crew

    I have only worked in one high school theatre that came anywhere close to this. (I was the resident lighting designer for several years.)

    The trouble is…

    Grade school administration doesn't realize that no one can do everything in the theatre. Yes, a 'well rounded' TD is like gold(!). Although, as George mentions, I do find that most are either proficient at technology, or design, but not both.  A drama (acting) teacher who has a 'well rounded' degree, has usually only done one quarter of sets and rigging, one quarter of lights, one quarter of sound, one quarter of costumes, one quarter of SM, and so on at university. And some of those may have been options, as long as they did some "tech".  This hardly qualifies them to be teaching tech theatre.  And even tech majors specialize.  I (educational theatre operations manager and lighting designer), for instance, couldn't tell you 'what all those buttons do' on a sound board. I can get a wireless mic to work, to my credit. My degree was specifically lighting design.  And that was in the 80's.  So what all those LEDs and movers and universes and addresses are about, I don't know – I heavily rely on my digital-native techs and student techs.  I still don't understand why, when I ask my light board op to bring an instrument up to 10, why it looks so dark!  (JK, BTW.)

    Right now the website of a school district near me has 8 openings for their Track and Field program;  Throws Coach, Assistant Throws Coach, Jumping Coach, Horizontal Jumps Coach, High Jumps Coach, Sprinting Coach, Pole Vault Coach, and a Head Track and Field Coach. Surely the Head Track and Field Coach could teach all those, right?  Baseball season has just as many specialty coaching positions advertised, and don't get me started on Football season. The specialties in a theatre are as varied as the specialties in a sports team.  Plus, there are possibly 10 to 20 students on a sports team, while there can be dozens, if not over a hundred, students involved in a production.  Why can we not have a 'lighting coach', a 'sound coach', a 'costume coach', a 'rigging coach', and so on?

    I don't think theatre specialties are ever going to mesh, any more than sports specialties. I certainly have no aptitude for gains and DI boxes.  I'm all for each area of tech having an understanding of what all other areas do (did I mention I got a D in Costumes at university…), and while it may be necessary at this time to continue to enable school administrators' mandates that we do everything, by trying to do everything, it's just as important to persist in educating administrators that this simply isn't the way it is in the real world (like sports), and that they need to hire accordingly.

    Beth Rand, EBMS
    Educational Lighting Designer
    School Theatre Operations Specialist
    District Auditorium Specialist for SVVSD
    Westminster, CO
    Tech theatre books
    Free downloads

  • 15.  RE: Hiring is hard

    Posted 12-04-2022 17:15
    Although I agree (and have fundraised for coaches in each area before) my main issue is that (in my experience) that long jump coach works every day and gets around a $500-1000 stipend for a whole semester/season. 

    Techs don't work for free and don't work for cheap (and shouldn't) so getting those coaches is always the challenge, even if theater was supported like athletics financially.