Open full view…

High School Theatre Risk Management Survey - Part 1

Sat, 08 Oct 2016 23:14:01 GMT

Hello fellow high school theatre employees! PLEASE HELP BY FILLING OUT THIS SURVEY! BUT FIRST, A BIT OF BACKGROUND: I am in the process of researching material for my next book “High School Theatre Risk Management”. The objective of this book is to advocate and educate for safe, supported, and educational high school theatres. I’m looking for folks who would be willing to share a bit about their high school theatres; your trials and your triumphs. There are over 13,000 high schools in the US, and many schools are being built or re-modeled with a state-of-the-art performing arts center on campus, which end up operating as “roadhouses” for a plethora of school, district-wide and outside events. I know a lot of high school theatre employees (teachers, staff and any paid students) often feel a certain level of frustration with how little support (from moral to financial) is given to their programs, and how little attention is paid to functionality and liabilities. I’d like to hear from you! Unlike my previous books (please see the Publications page, under the More Services and Tools tab), which have been based on my own training and experiences in educational theatre, for this book I am planning on doing some extensive research nationwide in regards to the current state of safety, operations and vocational education quality in our high school theatres. I will not only compile my research into a cohesive picture of the state of high school theatres in our nation today, but also outline applicable solutions that you can use and impart to others. I will be focusing on one aspect of high school theatre risk management at a time, and this first set of question focuses on who manages your high school theatre (if anyone?). I’ll be asking for input on other issues as the book progresses. I’d like to hear from you even if you have no formal “management” at your high school theatre. The lack thereof is also an important part of the information I am gathering. I would also like to hear from the “Gold Standard” high schools that have supportive administrations and highly functioning, safely operated high school theatres. And everyone in between. The identity of each person who responds will be kept confidential for the purposes of this book, so please feel free to rant or rave as much as you’d like. Please send an e-mail with your answers to these questions to Thanks in advance for taking the time to participate! HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE RISK MANAGEMENT SURVEY PART 1: THEATRE MANAGEMENT Who are you? ___ Drama teacher, acting only ___ Drama teacher, tech only ___ Drama teacher, acting and tech ___ CTE Endorsed Tech Theatre Teacher ___ Other teacher _____________________ ___ Theatre Manager ___ Theatre technician ___ Other staff __________________ ___ Administrator ____________________ ___ Parent ___ Community member (what do you do? ___________________) ___ Other _________________________ The identity of each person who responds will be kept confidential for the purposes of this book, but please share which state you are in. __________ How old is your theatre? ____ years What size house does your theatre have? ____ seats What sort of events/shows use your high school theatre? ___ school meetings/classes ___ parent meetings/information nights ___ school concerts ___ school variety shows ___ school plays and musicals ___ district events ______________________________________ ___ outside events _____________________________________ ___ other events _______________________________________ Does your high school theatre ___ stay dark for the summer holidays ___ host some events over the summer holidays ___ is pretty booked up over the summer holidays Does your high school theatre have someone hired specifically as a Theatre Manager (TM)? Y N If not, who is in charge of your theatre? ____________________________ If so, please answer the following questions: For how many years has your high school had a TM? ____ For how many years has the current TM been managing your high school theatre? ____ What is the education level of your TM, and is it theatre management related? ___ high school graduate with acting experience. ___ high school graduate with tech experience. ___ high school graduate with no theatre/drama experience. ___ AA or AS. Degree field: ________________________ ___ BA or BS. Degree field: ________________________ ___ MA or MS. Degree field: ________________________ ___ Doctorate. Degree field: ________________________ Does your TM have a degree specifically in Theatre Management (not Stage Management)? Y N At the time of hire of your current TM, what was the experience level of your TM and for how many years? ___ prior high school theatre management. ___ years. ___ prior other theatre management. ___ years. ___ technical theatre, but no management experience. ___ years. ___ Drama teacher. ___ years. ___ no prior experience in technical theatre or theatre management. ___ other _____________________________________________ To whom does your TM directly report to/who is your TM’s direct supervisor? ___ school vice principal or principal ___ other school administrator ________________ ___ district business manager ___ district facility manager ___ district scheduling manager ___ other _________________________________ From what budget is your TM’s salary/wages paid from? ___ school building budget ___ other school budget ___ district facilities budget ___ other district budget ___ each event pays for the TM’s time ___ other ________________________________ Is your TM ___ Salaried ___ Hourly ___ Benefits partial ___ Benefits full More specifically, is your TM ___ a salaried certificated teacher, represented by a union. ___ a classified salaried employee, represented by a union. ___ a classified salaried employee, not represented. ___ an unrepresented hourly employee. ___ other ____________________________________ If you don’t mind sharing – what is the pay rate (you can share a range if you’d prefer not to be specific) of your TM? ________________________ Technicians I will address technicians another time, but just quickly… Does your high school theatre employ professional technicians? ___ Yes, as well as the TM ___ Yes, instead of a TM ___ Yes, but the theatre technicians are actually paid students ___ No, we just have the TM ___ No, we have neither a TM nor technicians. ___ No, but the students help out voluntarily ___ Other __________________________________ Any other information you would like to share about how your high school theatre is managed: ______________________________________________________________________ ________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ________________ Thank you so much for taking time to fill out this survey. I will contact you to let you know when the book is published (this one may take a while…). Again, your contact information shall be kept confidential for the purposes of this book. Gratefully, Beth

Sun, 09 Oct 2016 14:30:22 GMT

I can't see the survey. I can answer the general question you asked in the EDTA blog about who manages our theater, though. When I was hired, the principal at the time referred to it as "my (meaning me) auditorium." We talked about my plans for the year and when we were in the season of a play, the auditorium was left alone. Whenever an event was planned, she came to me and talked to me about how to set things up the best way and where in the building my class would best be suited to use that day. At the end of the year, she came to me and said, "I put aside some money at the beginning of the year for you to start your theatre program (I was their first theatre teacher) and you haven't used most of it. What do you think this auditorium needs to be functioning properly that it doesn't currently have?" She trusted my expertise and judgement. Then she retired. My next principal informed me on many occasions that it wasn't MY auditorium and that I needed to learn to share and be flexible. I often knew nothing of upcoming events. Many times, I arrived at school and discovered , by walking into the auditorium, that something was scheduled there that day and I would need to move my classes. I struggled for years with them scheduling a state academic competition on the Saturday right before the play and expecting the Spring musical set to NOT be on the stage. I watched the high school choir director move (and break apart) the walls of my box to accommodate his hastily scheduled choir concert four days before the play. I was often called out of class to run sound/lights for a program while a librarian or SPED teacher babysat my students. One year, she brought in a speaker for an after-school program and they decided it would be held in the auditorium on the first day of my dress rehearsal. We were told we could dress in the hallway bathrooms and practice in a science lab. Quite possibly the worst I've ever dealt with from this principal (on scheduling the auditorium anyway) was when she, accompanied by some suits from central office, pulled me out of class exactly one week before the play to ask me a million questions about the inner workings of the auditorium and how things look and are run. They start talking to each other and ignoring me, I .overhear that there will be an event during my third-to-last play rehearsal time. I'm quickly figuring in my head how to make the science lab work...again, when they ask her if she has anyone who can run sound for their event. Without looking at me, she says that I will. I must have had a look on my face because one of the suits asked me if that was a problem. She responded again saying that there was no problem and I would do it. I said, "Actually I have a very important play rehearsal that day." She turned to me and said, "Your play rehearsal is canceled. Canceled. You'll be there." Fortunately, after three years, she went to another school and we got another principal. He was usually pretty respectful of the fact that I knew more about that auditorium than he ever hoped to know, but often didn't tell me until the day before an event. This caused a lot of rushing on my part to set things up. Now, instead of asking me to run sound for events, I had a former student, who was now homeschooled, whom they would ask me to call in to run sound. This was great for both of us. Now, I have another principal. So far this year, she plans well and communicates pretty well. She even talked to me about that State academic event in the Spring and came to the conclusion that they could either work around my set or use someone else's facilities. She's never asked me to run sound for anything, and has the assistant principal set up for meetings and events, instead of me. Honestly, I don't know who "manages" our auditorium, but this year so far, it isn't me.

Tue, 01 Nov 2016 04:16:20 GMT

Hello! My apologies for taking so long to respond to your post. In answer to your first question – the survey is at the bottom of my first post, but if it’s not coming through, please e-mail me at and I can send it to you directly. Thanks for letting me know about your situation. It sounds like you went from the ideal situation that drama teachers mostly only dream about, where you were the only user of your theatre and your admin was supportive of your program, to the typical situation of a drama teacher having to fit in with a ‘roadhouse’ model of theatre use. I have some thoughts on your situation that I’d like to share with you… If they're going to start using your theatre as a roadhouse – which is the trend all over the country - then they need to hire a professional theatre manager. It seems like there is someone in the administration who is doing the scheduling of the theatre who doesn’t know about the requirements of theatre – such as, you don’t schedule in an event during tech week(!). They also need to hire professional technicians to ru n the place for the events – I can’t imagine how you can teach your classes and be a technician for all the events, that’s not a part of a teacher’s job. Nor should it be a part of the assistant principal’s job – unless they’re trained in tech theatre? It’s great that you now have a more understanding principal, but it just seems that none of them understand that a high school theatre is just like any ‘real world’ theatre, and that the operations need to be managed. Please have a look at my book "High School Theatre Operations" - you can find it, and some others, at This book will help them understand all that is involved. Thanks again for sharing your situation with me, it’s very helpful for me to understand how different theatres operate. And in turn, I hope I will be able to make a difference. Thanks!