A Weekly DIGEST for teachers and staff who want to level-up support and funding for MANAGEMENT OF their SCHOOL theatre. 

Issue 34, 2023


Come backstage, and you'll see:

  • Techie Tip of the Week (editorial)
  • Leveling-Up (essential online courses)
  • Dear Techie (advice column)
  • Techie Travesties (funnies)

Join in the conversation


Techie Tip of the Week


One of the primary management responsibilities of the Theatre Manager is the scheduling of the theatre.  Even if a school theatre doesn’t (yet?) rent the facility to outside events, it is essentially being run like a roadhouse - because all sorts of school events typically use the space too. 

It is essential that you have one central person doing this, who is the first point of contact for anyone (school, district, outside) wanting to use the theatre.  This person also needs to be familiar with theatre operations.  If a high school theatre is scheduled by someone in the district who has no knowledge of the needs of a staged event, events tend to overlap in the space.  For instance, lets say the drama teacher and the band teacher submit the dates of their performance nights.  A scheduler with no theatre background might schedule the band concert a week before the show dates, however a theatre person would know that there is a week of tech rehearsals before the show dates and that the set is loaded in and finalized a week before that, so the band cannot use the stage while all of the space is taken up with the show’s set.  

A theatre person has the innate knowledge of how much time a group needs to book the space for, and it eliminates the need to go back and forth between the theater users and a district scheduler who doesn’t have the theatrical knowledge and can’t initially foresee the needs of an event. In one district where I worked a person in the district office took all the reservations, even though they had a Theatre Manager.  This system gives the users booking the space the run-around.  The district facilities person would book the theatre, the user would then contact the theatre manager about their needs, only to find that they needed to extend the time for a tech rehearsal, etc., and then they would have to go back to the district facilities person to re-book the time.  

Ideally the Theatre Manager (or person who is doing that job) should be the first point of contact. One way to work towards becoming the first point of contact (note: it will likely take the cycle of a full school year for you to buck the system..) is, as soon as you receive the information about your renter, contact them directly and provide them with YOUR paperwork to fill out, and schedule a production meeting.  What paperwork this is exactly, we learn about in the TMT.  And, be sure to schedule a production meeting no matter how small or short the event – even a school concert. There will be resistance at first – especially from music teachers, but once they have their event and it goes smoothly for the first time, they will be on board. The trick is to be consistent, and let event organizers know you are the one in charge, and you are the one they should be coming to first.

This editorial is the express opinion of Beth Rand, and is not intended for substitution for professional advice regarding your specific situation or circumstances.


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Dear Techie

Dear Techie,

Help! I am in immediate need of stage rigging inspection and repairs.  Do you have any contacts?

Safe in KY

Dear Safe,

I’m glad to hear that you are invested in getting a rigging inspection for your theatre!  I’m wondering why it’s “immediate”, and why immediate repairs are needed? But, I’m glad to hear that your district seems to be agreeing to your inspection!  I’m using this as a ‘teachable moment’… 

EVERYONE should have rigging/safety inspections about every two years (every year would be ideal, every three years seems to be more common).  I’m probably preaching to the choir, because I know that most of you know the value of a rigging inspection (or general safety inspection if you don't have a fly system), but many of you have a hard time convincing your administration to spend the money. Chances are most of you could tell your district what is unsafe in your theatre, but a professional safety inspection validates your findings, and also finds the items that are not so obvious to the user.  

Yes, a rigging inspection can be pricey - some inspectors have to come from out of town and need accommodation, and for a full-sized theatre the rigging inspection can, and should, take 2 full days! - but consider the price of the alternative. Also – if your school or district is paying for regular inspections of their sports fields, gyms and equipment, then they should be paying for regular theatre inspections. Liability. Liability. Liability.

And here’s a tip for after your inspection is complete… After your inspection you will then receive a comprehensive written report, which will recommend any repairs or replacements, and also recommend any preventative maintenance.  But, a safety inspection isn't worth anything if the district won't follow the recommendations.  Sadly, I have yet to work for a school district that has fully completed the to-do list in these reports, regardless of their support for the inspections in the first place.

But – here’s the tip - take the report and divide the ‘to-dos’ into 5 categories:
1 – items that your students and yourself can – safely! – take care of. 
2 – items that your technicians (if you have them) can take care of. 
3 – items that school custodians can take care of. 
4 – items that district maintenance needs to take care of. 
5 – items that you need to hire a professional theatre company to take care of. 

This way, you’ll know that at least the lists in categories 1and 2 will be taken care of. Plus, it will increase the likelihood of the items in categories 3, 4 and 5 being taken care of, if the district maintenance director doesn’t have to sift through a report regarding a facility the functionality of which they typically don’t understand. I highly recommend doing the leg work for your admin, as you understand your facility the best and it will increase the chance of the work getting done.  

I’m afraid I can’t recommend a specific company, but I list several on the PRESETT resources page at:

Submit your Dear Techie questions to [email protected].  


Techie Travesties

If all the world’s a stage…
where does the audience sit?


Submit your Bad Theatre Joke or Funnies to [email protected].

And finally, always remember....

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Why the name Cue3Go?  Because often times (not always, of course) in a show, Cue 1 is house-to-half, Cue 2 is blackout, and Cue 3 is lights up!  We hope this newsletter will light you up each week with ideas and actions for managing your high school theatre.

It is PRESETT's mission to provide information to assist in endeavors for safe and functional operations of school theatres. However, PRESETT is not a safety consultant or professional, and any information provided or advocated is not intended to supplement, not supersede, industry safety training. Always consult a theatre safety specialist about your specific situation or circumstances.

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