Lucrative career paths in the performing arts don’t have to be all about the act of performing itself. Lighting and sound design are great ways to stay inside the industry behind the scenes. Directors have the opportunity to teach students the skills necessary to succeed in those realms by bringing them into the design and execution of technical theatre motions. The following outlines some ways to help students learn the ropes, and a few jobs within the industry.

Chances to Learn 

Lighting Cues

Those who work crew on productions know just how daunting it can be to lead – or be a part of – the lighting team. A missed cue can ruin comedic timing, the rhythm of a number or the desired gravity in a dramatic scene. 

If you want to help your crew to get a handle on lighting, pick a show with a few key lighting moments and work to perfect them. Once students are able to master integral lighting cues – and feel the satisfaction of heightening a scene  – they’ll be hooked.

Sound Board Cues

What’s a theatre performance without the sound … especially when it comes to musicals! These shows can be an excellent time to get your students prepared for higher-stakes productions. Whether it’s cueing up musical numbers, perfecting the timing of sound effects or setting the mood/atmosphere of your production through music, sound plays a critical role in the success of your show.

Lighting & Sound Principles 

Along with mastering lighting and sound cues, theatre productions give educators a chance to teach students the basic principles of these important theatrical elements. This can mean teaching your students to tailor lighting or sound to different scenes, whether those are dance numbers, comedic moments, serious monologues or scenes with large ensembles. 

Don’t be afraid to sit down with your crew to dissect how the visual and auditory presentations themselves affect the scenes and the way they’re perceived through composition. 

Other things to discuss include the types of lighting – from spot fixtures to flood lights – and the utilization of directional lights and sound equipment. Creating an overall strategy with your students about the lighting and sound is crucial to the betterment of your production – and your cast and crew will be grateful to get a well-rounded theatre education. 

Jobs in the Industry

Lighting Designer

A lighting designer works with the creative team to come up with ideas for lighting in a show. Along with designing all the cues for a production, this person needs to understand and manage the lighting budget as well as energy demands on the theatre itself.

The lighting designer is also typically responsible for creating the notes and cues in the script for lighting technicians, and leads the lighting team during technical rehearsals and shows. 

Production Designer

The production manager – while not specifically entrenched in all things lighting and sound – needs a background and knowledge of these components to succeed. From creating the schedules for the production teams to working closely with producers, lighting designers and sound designers, the production designer is essentially the backbone of the visual and auditory components of a production. 

Other duties of a production designer include making decisions related to sets, costumes, budgeting, crew safety and construction needs. 

Sound Technician

A sound technician prepares the soundboards and other auditory equipment. Once the show begins, the technician maintains the quality of sound.

Specific duties include:

  • Ensuring all mics are ready to go – both those on the actors and on/around the stage
  • Checking sound levels consistently and running sound checks prior to performances
  • Working closely with the stage and production managers, as well as lighting technicians, to ensure a well-executed performance 

Lighting Technician

Directly reporting to a lighting designer, the lighting technician typically executes the nuts and bolts components of the lighting tasks. 

These can include:

  • Rigging lighting equipment and ensuring it is secured safely and correctly
  • Collaborating with the stage manager to hit cues during performances  
  • Operating manual and computer-controlled lighting systems 
  • Performing maintenance duties on lighting equipment as necessary

By giving your students the opportunity to learn the ropes during your shows, you’re setting them up for success in sound and lighting careers down the road. If you’re not sure what the first steps are to getting your students prepared, On The Stage can help.


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