The Scene: April 27th, 2022
In today's email: Technical Theatre 101: Lighting
Also in today’s email:
Hot Topics: USITT develops BACKstage Technical Theatre Exam for high schoolers and more
Teacher Feature: WT McRae IV
The Broadway Beat: Jersey Boys ends its 17-year NYC run, Katrina Lenk performs Being Alive on Seth Meyers, a new book about stage managing in the pandemic, and more
Shows You Should Know: Plays that make money
Around the Globe: August Wilson’s birthday, tips on wearing stage makeup with a mask, and more
Technical Theatre 101: Lighting
By Dana Taylor (he/him/his)
USITT Board of Directors
Technical Theatre is a vibrant and diverse area of study. Students can pick a topic and devote their creative lives to disciplines ranging from audio to stage management and everything in between. So, where to start and what to teach?
The two primary reasons to teach lighting are:
to use your equipment safely
to use your equipment effectively
Most schools have some sort of lighting system and often, it can yield relatively quick and rewarding results for aspiring student technicians. Showing the students how to do basic programming of the lighting console, or even just learning what a fader does can be empowering.
PROJECTS TO TRY
Creating color crossfades, either manually or via programming, that reflect a change in mood heard in a brief musical recording.
Create a series of cues that trace the path of a performer across the stage.
Recreate the lighting you see in a picture or painting.
Using different gels (or RGB settings), look at how color impacts the colors seen in a bag of Skittles. How do red, blue, and green change what you see?
Technical Theatre Educators Private Group on Facebook (9000 tech theatre teachers from across the globe)
As much as we would like to make this sound accessible to every teacher, we know that some schools have little or no equipment, theaters that are in poor repair, and educators with only a modicum of technical training. As you approach this work, access your skill sets, and identify competent people to help instruct what you can’t. Remember, technical theatre is a tool to aid in storytelling; it needn’t be elaborate to be effective.
EdTA and USITT are developing an official exam “to evaluate the knowledge and work readiness of technical theatre students at the high school level.” The BACKstage Technical Theatre Exam preview will be available through June 30, 2022 with a $26 registration fee. Learn more at the USITT website.
Broadway Licensing has acquired Stage Rights, an independent LA-based theatrical publisher and licensing company.
Musical Theatre International has released Pure Imagination, a revue show of favorite Broadway Junior songs, now available for licensing.
Roundabout Theatre hosted a staged reading of #ENOUGH: Plays to End Gun Violence featuring 8 high school playwrights from around the country. Watch the full event on the #ENOUGH website.
Announcing new Choreography Guides from Broadway Media Group! First released as “The Original Production,” a product conceived by Tony-winning director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell and Broadway dancer Paul Canaan. Revolutionize the way you choreograph musicals.
Celebrate theatre teachers everywhere! Each week, The Scene spotlights one outstanding educator and shares their best advice to fellow teachers.
WT McRae IV (they/them/theirs)
School: The Berkeley Carroll School (Brooklyn, NY)
Number of years teaching: 26 years
Show you loved directing: June July August by Sinead Daly or Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry
Show you are dying to direct: Bat Boy: the Musical
“As you make theater with your students, try to remember: these shows are not a demonstration of what’s possible in art. They are a record of what THIS group of people did with the time and resources available to them. Our shows reflect snow days and sick family members, families that don’t understand the project, and students/teachers who are overwhelmed with work. Reach for the moon! Celebrate where you land. I promise your show is already a spectacle of human collaboration. Your team should be so proud.”
Add to your bookshelf: Broadway Stage Manager Richard Hester has released a memoir about the dark year on Broadway called Hold Please: Stage Managing A Pandemic.
Money makes the world go ’round, but no need to sacrifice your artistic vision for a few extra bucks. Here are five plays that make money:
The Play That Goes Wrong (High School Edition coming soon!)
On This Day In Theatre: August Wilson (Fences, The Piano Lesson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) was born in 1945 in Pittsburgh’s Hill District.
Production Tip: Destinee Steele (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child San Francisco) gives tips on wearing makeup with a mask.
For Fun: Take a break and watch the 2012 Newsies Tony Award performance. You deserve it.
Theaters Around the World: The Opera at the Palais Garnier in Paris is one of the most iconic theaters in the world, most notably used as the setting for Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel, The Phantom of the Opera.