Theatre Technician – real skills please not time wasters!

As Spotlites Technical Manager, I manage several theatre spaces all year round including an Edinburgh Fringe Venue with three performing spaces and I get cv after cv through my mailbox asking for techy jobs. So how do I tell the useful from the downright dangerous people with whom to trust my reputation as a supplier of world class theatre staff to.

Well for a start I prefer technicians who haven’t used the latest equipment or tested the new-fangled-dmx-led-moving-monkley-operated-goldfish-bowl-lenses-lantern-with-bluetooth-control-via-nasa-space-station-light I want to rely on people who know what equipment does and not how to just speak nonsense from catalogues. I want to know that the lighting tech uses a tissue to change a bulb, not his bare fingers – anti-devitrification and all that.

So I have come up with a list of skills I look for in new staff:-

Dresses respectfully, this isn’t college where a sweaty t-shirt and unwashed hair is acceptable, you are a professional.

Gets to work on time, preferably early so I don’t have to worry about replacement casual staff.

Knows what Health & Safety is about and practices it – a harness in your kit bag is no help when you fall off a lighting tower is it.

Can be shouted at by Artistic people, yes it isn’t pretty or nice but they are under a huge amount of stress, you just have to do the lights or sound for their show, which isn’t very stressful – their careers are depending on this show – yours isn’t.

Listen to the Artistic people and be sympathetic to their needs, be helpful, not jobs-worthy, hell they are in a new part of town and you are their only link to the local area at the very least.

Ask if you don’t know how to do something, preferably when the artistic people aren’t around.

Think about a solution before asking for help!

Can actually operate a lighting or sound desk, not just had 2 weeks playing around with one at college. If they haven’t used the theatre’s desk then they should have read the manual and had time to practice with the online version before walking into the building.

If they can’t rig a light with the business end pointing towards the stage with the cable coming out of the bottom of the light and the safety chain attached correctly then its goodnight.

Use white LX tape when rigging cables!

If they baulk when asked to sweep the stage, no you aren’t god, you are a stage tech – it is part of your job to make the theatre presentable!

Don’t give references on their CV – 1 in 3 employers check these, I phone them for a chat about you.

Talk loudly outside when you can be heard inside the venue

Don’t put their phone on silent – as if their social life is more important that work, theatre is your social life!

What I do look for in new staff:-

A can do attitude. I don’t want to have to show you how to set up a props table or re-wire a plug.

A smile.

Respect for others, their team and themselves. Be positive about the show they are working on, its a job!

Someone who always puts the show first regardless of ego.

Doesn’t smell!

Listens to others and their ideas.


Spotlites technicians do it smoking a pipe


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