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

Issue 15, 2023


Come backstage, and you'll see:

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

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Techie Tip of the Week


Now this may be a controversial post(!). 

I personally consider an analog sound board far better for a high school situation.  And, in fact, every professional sound technician I’ve ever worked with, who has worked in educational tech theatre, agrees with me.  There is a school of thought that high schoolers should have a digital board because they will soon go to a college or get a job where this technology is used and they will have a head start.  But an analog board really teaches the students what sound “does”.  You manually move something on the board (a knob, fader or button) and the sound is correspondingly affected.  And each knob, fader or button is right there in your line of vision and you physically/tacitly make the change in the sound happen.

If you have a digital board, it’s much like using a computer.  Consider your Word program.  If you want to find a file, you open the program and then open a folder, and perhaps open a folder within that folder, and then open the file.  Digital boards are somewhat like that.  The process for making adjustments to the sound quality is not all laid out visually in front of you like it is on analog boards.  With a digital board, you have to learn and retain in your mind a myriad of hidden sequences.  An analog board may appear more complicated to the eye with all those buttons and knobs, but it’s actually quicker to learn, and the sound is directly responsive to your actions – you need only turn one knob, not have to go through a multi-step process.

However, one good feature of digital boards is that a sound technician can create all the settings they prefer and save the settings, then another sound technician can come along and save all their settings.  Sort of like saving your settings for a drivers seat in a fancy car.  But, while this may sound ideal on the surface, without collaboration between everyone who uses the board, it’s very easy for someone to delete another person’s saved settings in favor of their own.  This happened all too often in one theatre I worked at, and each technician would arrive expecting to quickly set up for a show, using their saved settings, only to find they had all been deleted by the previous technician (for reasons unknown!).  That technician then had to delay the show’s set-up in order to re-set all their settings.

A digital board is even harder for a non-tech oriented person to figure out, as it is not visibly obvious what one is meant to do.  Regardless of whether you have an analog or digital sound board, it’s best to hire professional sound technicians who will be there to create a set of processes and mentor the students.  Only you can decide which type of board will be best for your situation.

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,

When our 900-seat theatre is rented out the school district approves all outside organizations through an application process, but they allow us to determine what to charge according to the needs of each event. There is always one adult in charge of tech for each event (myself, or the TD) and we often use student volunteers as crew. We’re trying to figure out what to charge.  Any thoughts?

Charged in IN

Dear Charged,

The first thing that stands out for me is that the event pays the school, but the students volunteer to work the event.  I’m not certain, but you should check the child labor laws in your state, because I think that’s slightly illegal.  The only way I can see it being legal is if they are in a bona fide CTE (Career and Technical Education) course and are getting some sort of school credits for their time.  Even then, I’m not sure if that applies to events that pay the school.

But, luckily, it’s more of a no-brainer to get the school to pay the student crew for outside events, as opposed to school events, because you can just charge the events for the student technicians’ time.  And in fact, most schools place a ‘mark-up’ on technician rates. 

In answer to what to charge, the answer is – it depends.

I’ve seen rates all over the place, so it’s not much use me suggesting anything as it always depends on the state, the city/town, and sometimes even each district.  The best thing to do is to survey the schools around you.  And then… charge less.  In reality, they are your “competitors”, as outside events have a choice of where they decide to spend their money, especially if the dance school (for instance) is equidistant between two school theatres.

But, that all said, here are two theatres, one in California and one in Washington State – check out their rental pages.

Northshore Performing Arts Center:

Nechita Center for the Arts: 

One thing I don’t like is when schools nickel and dime events, and charge for items that one would normally expect to be in a theatre when you rent it.  I’ve seen charges for using the lighting, I’ve seen charges for using the dressing rooms – that sort of thing.

For more in depth information, there is a section on Rental Rates in the Financials chapter of High School Theatre Operations.

Submit your Dear Techie questions to [email protected].  


Techie Travesties

You know you're a Techie when...

- You memorize gel colors for fun.

- You dress your snowman in black.

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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