Dramat Technical Director

Technical Director

The position of Technical Director (TD) can be one of the most demanding on the production staff, requiring specific skills and a substantial time commitment. The TD should be a leader capable of initiating and sustaining the build and installation process. This entails goal setting, organizing a team, monitoring the workflow, and seeing that all work is completed safely. The construction skills needed for a specific production will depend upon the scale and nature of the production.  The UP Technical Advisor (TA) will provide instruction and guidance as needed. 

The TD position should be filled and the appointment approved by the TA as early in the process as possible. Note that this is not just a supervisory position. The TD quite often handles more building than any other crew member. The TD should make an effort to attend at least some of the early concept and design meetings with the Director, Designers, and the TA and become familiar and confident with the plan as it develops.  During this time the TD should begin to assemble a crew.

In consultation with the TA, working from  plans provided by the set designer, the student TD will be required to estimate materials and labor budgets for the production, and so should be familiar with and able to read and interpret basic ground plans, sections, and design elevations. They will also be required to prepare working shop construction drawings and so should have basic drafting skills. A working knowledge of Google SketchUp can make this job much easier. Hand drafting, AutoCAD or Vectorworks are also acceptable methods of creating drawings. It is important that the TD track progress and keep the Producer, Production Officer and Technical Advisor apprised of the progress of the build through written weekly reports and accurate records of expenditures.

EX Productions

A TD will have a demonstrated proficiency in the use of stationary and hand power tools as well as flat and platform construction techniques. They will have attended workshops in these areas, basic rigging, and ladder/scaffold safety. They will have worked on previous productions as a carpenter.

Asst. TDs and Show Carpenters will have attended stationary and power hand tool workshops. Assistant TDs will have served as carpenters on other productions, while this is not required of a show carpenter.

Main Stage Productions

A main stage TD, in addition to possessing the skills listed above for Ex shows, will have a working knowledge of the UT fly system. They will have attended workshops in flat and platform construction, rigging and fly system operation, as well as ladder/scaffold safety. They will have served as TD on an Ex show and as an assistant to the TD on at least one main stage production. They will demonstrate a working knowledge of the operation of the genie personnel lift and the materials lift in the 40’s shop.

A main stage asst. TD, in addition to meeting the requirements for an “Ex” position, should have attended workshops in basic rigging, flat/platform construction, ladder and scaffold safety, as well as have served in a similar capacity on an “Ex” show, though having served as a TD on an “Ex” production is preferable.

 The following is a timeline for the TD’s work on a main-stage production. An “Ex” production is generally allotted one or two weeks less time depending on the scope of the production but the work responsibilities are the same. Your timeline will depend upon the scale and scope of your production. All of this work is done in coordination with, and subject to the approval of the Technical Advisor.

Six Weeks Out

Secure a complete set of design plans, including ground plan, sections, and elevations.

Break the set design down into manageable projects.

Provide an estimate of both materials and labor for each project.

Compile an estimate of material and labor budgets and compare to both show budget and available crew. Be sure to include the paint charge in this process.

Present the budget estimates and any problems to the Producer.

Continue to assemble a build crew

Identify and schedule crew training sessions as needed prior to start of build.

Five Weeks Out

Reconcile any problems with budget and/or crew with the Producer and adjust estimates based on any drawing revisions provided by designer.

Develop a prioritized work schedule for each week of build with deadlines for each project.

Work with TA to plan cutting/assembly time to maximize TA’s available time.

Work with the Assistant Producer (AP) assigned to scheduling the build crew.

Set work call schedule for first week of build and have the AP schedule crew.

Develop a complete set of working shop drawings for each project in order of build schedule.

Place order for build material.

Coordinate any special use of YSD equipment/facilities with appropriate YSD staff.

Schedule a shop orientation for the crew with the Technical Advisor.

Work with the Technical Advisor to evaluate the skill level of the crewmembers available and make work assignments.

Four Weeks Out

The set build must begin.

Confirm availability of stock items such as triscuits with YSD.

Assign work projects to crew.

Work with AP to schedule crewmembers for work calls one week in advance.

Work with AP to schedule paint crew.

Make sure that working drawings are done a couple of days ahead of scheduled build time.

Monitor material levels and provide additional as needed.

Monitor work progress.

Attend production meetings and keep staff up to date on the build progress.

Stay on top of shop cleanliness.

Three Weeks Out

Evaluate previous week’s progress with TA– adjust schedule as needed.

Monitor crew schedule for next week.

Monitor work progress and quality.

Maintain material levels.

Attend production meetings and keep staff up to date on the build progress.

Stay on top of shop cleanliness.

Two Weeks Out

Evaluate build progress to date with the TA.

If build is behind identify why and present the problem to the Producer immediately.

Evaluate the amount of build remaining and the available crew and $$.

If required, consider and prioritize what cuts can be made in the project.

Meet with the Producer and relevant staff to assess and determine how to proceed.

Continue with set build.

Confirm paint crew schedule with AP.

Schedule acquisition of stock items such as triscuits with YSD.

Double check material/hardware needs for load-in and confirm availability. Place hardware order if needed.

Attend production meetings and keep staff up to date on the build progress.

Stay on top of shop cleanliness.

One Week Out

Evaluate build progress and make any final adjustments as needed.

Work with the TA to plan set load-in process.

Monitor build progress.

Monitor paint crew progress.

Attend load-in meeting to coordinate set crew needs with other staff/crew needs.

Assemble materials and tools for load-in.


Give an overview of the set load-in process to set crew.

Be sure crew is aware of general safety guidelines as well as any issues specific to current production.

Coordinate set crew work with other crews that may be in the production space.

Oversee the crew moving set pieces to production space.

Assign crew members to set projects.

Work with the Fly Captain and crew to oversee load-in of flown elements.

Oversee crew work; be sure all crewmembers adhere to all safety practices.

Be sure crew adheres to all guidelines for production spaces.

Monitor progress of crew work in relation to projected schedule.

Be sure that the stage/shop is cleaned completely by end of each work call.

Discuss any load-in problems/delays with the Producer and other staff as needed/appropriate.

Inspect all work with the TA as it is completed and test all moving elements.

Inform producer when work is complete.

Technical Rehearsals

Walk Stage Mgr through the set and familiarize them with all elements of the installation.

Coordinate the training of backstage set crew with the TA and Stage Mgr.

With the TA and Stage Mgr, supervise the integration of all technical elements into the rehearsal process.

Make note of any adjustments that may be required.

Set Note Calls

Call work sessions as needed to make required adjustments to set installation.

Supervise all stage work as during load-in.

Notify the Producer and Production Officer when work is complete.


Attend strike meeting to coordinate load-out process.

Coordinate set crew work with other crew heads.

Pay special attention to all safety concerns.

Work with the Production Officer to ensure appropriate disposal of debris.

Coordinate with the Stage Mgr and Shop Mgr to ensure that all production spaces are clean and orderly.