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

Issue 39, 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


Part 8 of an 8-part series on the COUNTERWEIGHT SYSTEM, which will be posted every other week.

(Tip:  Even if you don’t have a counterweight system in your theatre, your vocational students will probably work with them in college or in the real world, so a ‘theory’ lesson is always a good idea!)

One of the two best ways to optimize safety is to make sure that anyone operating the fly system is properly trained and/or supervised, has turned in a signed liability waiver form, and follows the proper procedures.  The other is to make sure that your fly system itself is inspected at least every couple of years, whether you have a counterweight system or a winch system.  

A fly system inspection includes a visual inspection of the accessible components of the system (although some parts may be virtually impossible to view if they are above a grid that is close to the ceiling of the fly tower).  The inspector will do a physical check of the system to assess if there are any hazardous conditions that might compromise the safety of those operating the system and those on stage while it is being operated.  They should fully raise and lower each line (rope) to determine the condition of its functionality, and to look for things such as whether the ropes are frayed, determine the condition of the blocks, cables and other parts, and determine if any lines are out of weight.  The inspector should then present your theatre with a full written report, which will recommend any repairs or replacements, and also recommend any preventative maintenance.

I am not a theatre safety expert, and this article can only recommend, not replace safety training in a high school theatre.  If you want some specific hard-core information about rigging safety you should contact a professional company. A few theatre inspection companies are listed on the PRESETT website, on the Resources page, at: 

For more in depth information about codes and accepted standards in the rigging industry as a whole – such as ANSI 1.4 2014 about manual counterweight rigging systems – check out

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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Online courses for school theatre teachers and staff

Courses that leave you empowered with actionable strategies to level-up support and funding for your theatre operations and educating your students.

Check with your admin - many districts will pay for Professional Development!




please visit:

Theatre Management Training Course

Lighting and Safety Courses

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Dear Techie

Dear Techie,

I’m wondering what the average career longevity is for a theatre teacher? According to one study I read, 40 % of all teachers leave the teaching profession within the first 5 years.  I’m wondering what the percent is for theatre teachers.  A theatre teacher, I believe, is the hardest working and most overworked teacher in your building.  Do you have suggestions or advice to battle theatre teacher balance, overwork, time management and general career wellness?

Burning Out in UT

Dear Burning Out,

One common theme I see with theatre teachers that are burning out is whether or not they are forced to do it all on their own.  The “Muggles” don’t understand (and they can’t if they’ve had no experience) that a theatre is not just like a classroom, and if someone asks to use your “classroom” it’s not that easy of a request.  

If your high school is like many high schools these days, your theatre has become a “roadhouse” hosting a variety of events (even if they’re just school events), and often times – just because they use the space – the theatre teacher is saddled with having to look after all of the events (on top of their full-time job as a teacher). If that’s the case, I strongly recommend educating the district administration and teaching them it’s time to get a Theatre Manager and technical staff, which will leave you free to do the job you were hired to do – which is teaching, not management, and not providing technical support for other events in the theatre.  

I found that the use of words “liability” and “safety” works wonders. It’s a liability issue for the district not to provide proper supervision for events (again – even if they’re only school events) in the theatre, or alternately, as sometimes happens, allowing people to use the theatre with no supervision.  Do you have a stadium?  Does it have a Stadium Manager and grounds staff?  Or does a PE teacher mange the schedule and set up for all games and competitions and clean up afterwards?  Here’s a little blurb from my book that addresses this very issue that you can share with your administration, and it just shows-to-go-ya that you simply cannot do it all.  No wonder you are burned out if you aren’t given the support to do your job and are also having to provide support for others.

Managing a theatre and all the events that come into it – school events and outside events – requires a surprising amount of desk work; scheduling the theatre, scheduling the staff required for each event, re-scheduling everything every time a change is made, filing, maintaining documents, create forms, file administrative reports, processing user applications, budget tracking, processing timesheets, ordering equipment and parts, writing work orders for maintenance and repairs, and e-mails, e-mails, e-mails. Nor do overworked performing arts teachers, who also work evening and weekend rehearsals, performances, manage procurements, meetings with parents, and other preparations, have sufficient time to completely oversee all the technical aspects needed for their own performances let alone potentially dozens of others throughout the school year. No wonder burn out is so prevalent.

I don’t know why administrators don’t understand about spending money on staff and support for theatre education – it’s systemic – but I do know that we can all get some help with being burned out from having the work of several people put upon us by touching on what they do care about – lawsuits.  I recently worked at a theatre where the scrim (bottom) pipe extended so far that you couldn’t lower or raise the ladders without having to bring everything down to the deck each time and move the pipe around the ladders.  Now this is more of an operational issue than an educational issue, but my point is that the admin wouldn’t ok the work order to have the ends of the pipe sawn off until I mentioned that it’s either going to poke someone’s eye out, or someone is going to trip over the ends while on the deck, that they saw fit to do something about it.  True, it was actually also a safety issue, but their “liability” was the only thing they cared about.  So in order to get more support and staffing we do have to put things in terms of what makes sense to the admin.  (We do have to realize that unless you’ve worked in the theatre before, all you see when you come to see a play is the “magic” of the performance, so we can’t blame the “Muggles” for not knowing, but we do have to educate them in their own learning style.)

As well as using those magic words – “liability” and “safety”, also consider pointing out to your admin how much “coaching” support even the smallest of sports teams get.  Check out the editorial on “Coaching” in the Free PRESETT Resource Library, at:

Submit your Dear Techie questions to [email protected].  


Techie Travesties

Theatre Terms

A running crew rarely gets anywhere.
A purchase line will buy you nothing.
A trap will not catch anything.
A gridiron has nothing to do with football.

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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