The Technical Director (TD) has the daily responsibility for the technical operations of a theatre or performing arts center, including lighting, sound, set design and construction, and coordinating necessary maintenance.
He or she works with a great deal of independence and exercises independent judgment in performing a wide variety of duties. Because of the operating hours of most facilities, close supervision is not normally required nor expected.
In general, a TD may do any or all of the following:
- Operates, maintains and safeguards the technical assets of the theatre, including supervising the use of lighting, sound, communications equipment, and the use and maintenance of stage facilities.
- Determines the necessary technical supports, such as lighting, sound, staging, and special needs, necessary for events and performances presented at the facility in advance of production dates.
- Designs, sets up, maintains, and operates lighting and sound systems for theatre, dance, music, and other productions and projects; assists guest designers and arts with technical matters.
- Advises production managers, lighting and sound designers, on the technical specifications, costs and usage of technical equipment required for the individual show, and supervises the implementations of approved technical designs.
- Supervises and assists with set and stage construction and management.
- Assists in recruiting, training and assignment of volunteer or paid technical staff for individual shows.
- Orients facility renters and visiting productions to safety, technical characteristics and other areas of facility operations; facilitates the use of the technical facilities by the resident company and others engaged by or renting the facility.
- Monitors the condition of equipment including lighting, sound, and rigging equipment; arranges for the repair and replacement within budgetary constraints; performs preventive maintenance on equipment.
- Assists with the preparation and control of production budgets; maintains inventory and orders specialized supplies.
- Attends technical Week rehearsals, in order to supervise and assist in the technical aspects of the mounting the show.
- Makes recommendations to the Board of Directors or theatre leadership regarding capital purchases of technical equipment.
Because a TD may be called upon to deal with a wide range of technical issues, he or she benefits from a working knowledge of techniques, methods and procedures of theatre, dance, and music productions and presentations including stage, set, sound and lighting design and implementation; stage management; computerized lighting systems; stage carpentry; appropriate safety precautions and procedures.
Theatres also look for an ability to analyze and evaluate the need for technical support for various events and performances; plan, develop, schedule and provide the technical supports required for each event or performance; communicate effectively both orally and in writing; design and construct sets; design lighting and sound systems appropriate to each performance or oversee stage crews and volunteers; perform minor repairs and preventative maintenance on equipment; maintain inventory of necessary supplies; assist in budget preparation; establish and maintain effective working relationships with representatives of various groups, vendors, co-workers , and others; maintain irregular and extended working hours; able to lift, push or pull objects up to 100 pounds using appropriate tools.
Sample Job Description
- Sample Contracts. A contract need not be complicated. It may be enough to list basic responsibilities, as can be seen in these downloadable contracts, provided in MS Word format by an AACT-member theatre. More contracts are available to AACT-member companies in our online Resource Library.
- Full job descriptions for many positions are available to companies who take part in AACTivity.
- Further Reading: What We Do - Working in the Theatre, by Bo Metzler
- Job Listings: AACT's list of current employment opportunities posted by theatres around the country. These typically include job descriptions, which can be helpful in better understanding the position's purpose and requirements.
- Click here for more on the benefits of AACT membership.