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

Issue 11, 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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PRESETT's  Facebook page

Techie Tip of the Week


Do you know what to answer when someone asks you why it’s called upstage and downstage?

It’s pretty easy to explain stageleft and stageright – they’re from the actors perspective.  (As is houseleft and houseright from the audience’s perspective.). But how to explain upstage and downstage?

In our day and age usually the stage is a flat horizontal surface and the seats in the house are set on an incline, or “raked”.  In Shakespearean times this was not the case.  There were no seats in the middle of the house and those who could not afford the box/balcony positions that were around the walls of the house would stand on the house floor.  However, because they were standing on a level surface it was hard for those in the back to see the actors on the stage.  Therefore, stages in Shakespearian times were raked – sloped down towards the audience.  So when an actor moved away from the audience he literally walked up hill, hence upstage being at the back of the stage, and when an actor moved towards the audience he literally walked down hill, hence downstage being at the front of the stage.

And there you have it.  (At least, that’s what I know…)

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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Leveling Up

Online courses for school theatre teachers and staff


Dear Techie:

Dear Techie,

Our school district is looking into models across the nation that are performing arts magnets.  Can you suggest a successful model school district that we can use to base our model on?

Model Magnet in IN

Dear Model Magnet,

Unfortunately there is a wide disparity in the quality of high school theatre programs in this country.  Some states are more supportive than others, and some districts within states are more supportive than others.  It’s not always a case of funding – there are almost always funds – it’s a case of allocation of funds.  There is a list of ‘Gold Standard Schools’ on the PRESETT website, but I wish this was the rule not the exception.  I applaud your school district for researching this!

School theatres in this country vary widely in facility quality, staffing models, teacher knowledge requirements, risk management compliance, vocational support, curriculum, and a variety of other factors, and even legality conformity.  In the online High School Theatre Management Training course I’ve had students from every situation, from a school that houses its theatre in a tent structure to schools that have multi-million dollar state-of-the-art Performing Arts Centers on their campuses, and everything in between.  In terms of staffing I see everything from one teacher running EVERYTHING to a fully staffed theatre where there is a minimum staff of 7 (paid!) technicians required for each event. 

Schools with strong theatre models tend to have a strong staffing model – a one-person show can’t run a strong theatre program on their own, and I do hope that your district doesn’t expect you to do it all. Too often, while schools manage to raise the money to create a model theatre facility and program, once the keys are handed over there is no money budgeted to operate the facility and program.  This typically leaves the high school with a state-of-the-art theatre facility and no one to properly staff it so that it is appropriate and optimal for educational purposes, and suitable for practical and safe operational use. For this reason, I highly recommend you discuss with your district what staffing model will support your theatre program goals (work backwards – what program goals do we have, and what staff will we need to hire to support those goals/curriculum).  I can’t recommend any one theatre to you but I can give you some ideas for staffing in general.  Here goes:

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, supervised by the above

You may be wondering why there is no costume designer, set designer, etc. mentioned. That’s because each show (school, district or outside event) tends to hire their own design team – although… this should also be budgeted for, in the case of a model theatre program. I realize that this is a high “gold standard”, but when you consider the staffing model of an entire sports program in a high school you find that the need for so many ‘coaches’ in your theatre is not unreasonable. 

Submit your Dear Techie questions to [email protected].  


Techie Travesties

A thief walked into a theatre

He stole the spotlight

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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