Technical Director

The Technical Director is the highest ranking member of the technical crew within a society production and a member of the committee. The TD is usually counted among the other directors, artistic and musical, in the credits and in the first meetings of the society. During term time, the TD position mainly involves overseeing set construction and the hiring of equipment required for the show. During show week itself, the TD acts as responsible person for Central Hall and directs the show from beginning to end.

Set Building & Container

The Technical Director is responsible overall for the set. This must be constructed to a good standard that will continue to be safe for the entire show. Most G&S shows are in two acts, usually in distinct locations. Therefore, unlike other shows, only one set change will be needed. The interval between acts is usually 15-20 minutes, giving ample time for a scene change, although nothing too difficult.

All equipment and materials are stored in Container C behind the Sports Centre. This includes a wide variety of props and costumes that are stored in the shelves. The key for this can be obtained from either the Sports Centre or from YUSU reception. If anything appears in the container that shouldn't be there, it should be accommodated temporarily providing that there is room and YUSU reception (Jolene Jessiman) informed. If there is not enough room, it can be left outside, between the containers and the Sports Centre.

Design and construction may be deferred to a set designer should this person be separate to the TD.

Part of the TD's job is to organise the cast and crew to help with the get-in/ get-out and during show week. It's useful to have a plan so people know what needs to be done and when. Obviously some members will know what to do without needing detailed instructions while others will need more information or supervision. Delegating specific jobs to experienced people (and/ or teams) to deal with is a good plan and means less time is wasted and fewer people are standing around waiting to be told what to do. The TD needs to have a supervisory, managerial role, to keep an eye on what needs to be done and who can do it rather than getting bogged down in one particular job.

Show Week (Main Show)

The TD must liase with Security and Support Services prior to the show to arrange getting the key for Central Hall. This can be picked up in the morning, often ID will be required. Ensure that the alarm has been disabled by security and all interior doors unlocked, this includes the key-card doors either side of the main entrance, particularly if performers are using the Foyer entrances/exits.

Stage blocks should be layed out by the Porters. (There are currently 15 full size blocks in Central Hall) This will be confirmed in the Social Events Form but it is best to email to ensure these are positioned correctly Monday morning. It is also worth checking with the previous users of Central Hall (often Central Hall Musicals Society) in case they have already been positioned. The same applies to the orchestra pit, due to concern over this, it is best to check well in advance with Glyn Fieldhouse, Estates Services, Jane Whyman or AV.

AV must be present to move the screen above the stage, this usually comes down to rest just above the set, making a clean black backdrop to it. AV must also be present if anyone is using the tech gantry that is above the auditorium, however, this is not neccessarily used.

A briefing must be organised with Jane Whyman prior to the show to discuss fire evacuation proceedures, use of Central Hall and other issues. These essentially boil down to: 1) If there is a fire, evacuate immediately, 2) No smoking or drinking on the premises at any time, 3) the door must be locked unless there is a porter on duty (during the day, this means any person that is part of the society, the aim being just to prevent people wandering in). 4) Take the keys back to the Security Centre at the end of the day. There is nothing really difficult about this.

Portering with actual porters is necessary for the performances.; this is organised via the Social Events Form and apart from confirming this with Jane Whyman and the Head Porter, this works itself out. Similarly, Duty Mangers (who will take responsibility and will brief Stewards) are organised via the Social Events Form. It may be neccessary to confirm dates and times with the Information Centre so that Duty Managers can be booked. Duty Mangers may or may not want to talk to the TD or Stage Manager before the performance, be sure to know where the Risk Assessment is as they may bring it up.

Please note that we now need to arrange for someone(s) with a first aid qualification to be available in Central Hall during the week. It's a good idea for the TD to make sure someone goes on the SU 1st aid course if possible.

Show Week (Summer Show)

This will depend on the venue, most often, this is Langwith Dining Room. In this case, equipment must be hired in that is not usually available. This includes lighting and sound, both radio mics, boom mics and PA systems. These can be hired from various companies, inlcuding EntsTech (providing the show doesn't clash with a campus event). This must all be set up and secured, remembering that the room is not a dedicated performance space so everything must be safe for audience to walk around.

In recent years, the Summer Show has become less of a training exercise for the new committee and more of a trail-by-fire. Early planning and booking of hired equipment is essential.

Health & Safety

A risk assessment must be sent to Peter Kidd before each event. This is a basic list of items that are of concern to Health & Safety and what measures are in place to prevent things going, essentially, tits up. This will be then converted to a standard Risk Assessment Form and returned to the society, it must then be signed by the responsible person and adhered to.

Important points to consider:

  1. Stage edges must be highlighted to prevent trips/falls over the edge.
  2. Wires must be taped down, Gaffa-tape is preferable. A highlight of red tape over areas where people will be walking is best but not essential
  3. The set must under no circumstances look as if it can fall down.
  4. The set must under no circumstances AT ALL actually fall down
  5. Cast should stay hydrated and well fed throughout, no one should be fainting under the lights.
  6. Blocks 1 and 5 are roped off with hazard tape
  7. Behind the set must be highlighted with white tape or roped of with hazard tape (depending on whether access during the performance is needed)

Responsible Person, Organiser, Production Manager etc.

There are various terms used across different forms, different societies and different universities. As the production is usually fairly small scale, it is often best to assume that these all mean Technical Director. However, there can be possible variations depending on circumstances. These duties therefore can be delegated to others should the need arise.

Responsible Person: Will oversee the Health & Safety aspects of the show as well as responsibility for the venue (Central Hall or otherwise).

Organiser: Will fill in the forms and liase with

Important Contacts

Jane Whyman (jw46), Central Hall Facilities Manager

Glynn Fieldhouse (gf6), Head Porter

Peter Kidd (gro.usuy|ytefas#gro.usuy|ytefas), Student Events and Activities Safety Worker

Andy Fravigar, Andrew Firth, Philip Stewart (misc140), Audio Visual Centre techncians.

AV booking (misc74)

If In Doubt:

AV are a good source of technical and safety information. Technicians can be hired to help out and should know best for all situations in Central Hall and elsewhere.

Previous directors should be available to offer advice.

If it isn't safe, don't do it. It is difficult enough to get away with perfectly safe things that only look dangerous, it is almost impossible to pass something that is in fact dangerous. Common sense, of course, should prevail on this matter.

See also:

Chris Armstrong's Tech Blog

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