An Introduction to Technical Theatre
Tal Sanders, Pacific University
Copyright Year: 2018
ISBN 13: 9781945398872
Publisher: Pacific University Press
Conditions of Use
This book is appropriate for beginners and gives a broad, yet accurate, introduction to most elements of technical theatre. The section on production etiquette is especially crucial and valuable for beginners. Highlighting safety is also... read more
This book is appropriate for beginners and gives a broad, yet accurate, introduction to most elements of technical theatre. The section on production etiquette is especially crucial and valuable for beginners. Highlighting safety is also incredibly important. Overall, quite comprehensive and a very solid introduction.
Content-wise this introductory book is mostly error-free. The author manages to define and introduce key concepts with precision. Though it may need read as unbiased to the novice, the author does delineate behavior and concepts in a highly objective manner.
Immersive theatre, post-dramatic theatre, environmental theatre and post-modern theatre praxis often use unusual or site-specific spaces, projections, video, or film. Since these more new styles of theatre are quickly proliferating, the elements addressed in the book may not remain as relevant for too long.
This text is extremely clear, accessible and provides adequate context for all terminology used.
The text is highly consistent in terms of terminology and framework; recurring phrases or definitions are used with precise regularity.
The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections, making it supremely useful for class reading assignments. The text is not self-referential and can be reorganized or realigned with various subunits of a course.
The topics in the text are presented in a logical and clear fashion. (Though I would suggest beginning and ending with etiquette and safety since those concepts are so crucial for success.)
The text is mostly free of interface issues--I did have some issues navigating, though that might have been because of my laptop systems....
I did not notice any grammatical errors; the text was well-written and overall error-free.
There are no cultural insensitivities and this book is not offensive in any way.
Overall, an excellent, solid introduction to technical theatre which can easily align with course work and make important terminology and concepts clear to the beginning technical theatre student.
This book provides a very brief overview of technical theatre. The glossary is quite good, though the text could have benefited from internal links as the words are not defined within the text, just within the glossary. While a good survey, this... read more
This book provides a very brief overview of technical theatre. The glossary is quite good, though the text could have benefited from internal links as the words are not defined within the text, just within the glossary. While a good survey, this is not a text that I would use for a course for students focusing on technical theatre and design, but would be better suited to other students in theatre and non-theatre students. There is no index within the text, only on the webpage. The "For Further Explanation" sections at the end of each module provide other textbooks, most of which I already use or reference, and weblinks that are nice to have. These could easily be further expanded upon as there is ample blank space in the text.
The book is mostly error free. There were a few minor things that I found to be incorrect and made note of them in my own copy, but for the most part, the text is accurate.
The text is fairly up-to-date. A few things could be added, such as a mention of an intimacy coordinator in the list of roles in the theatre. Lighting technology module already needs some updating.
The text is quite easy to read. I think it would be useful to have more definitions within the text instead of in a glossary, but this isn't a problem for anyone already familiar with the terms. There are a few structural personnel relationships that should be further clarified.
The text is fairly consistent. I think that it does sometimes go off on a tangent, like explaining how to hang a lighting fixture during the lighting design module when it hasn't given any technical explanations in other design modules and the module that follows is about lighting equipment.
Modules are quite short and self-contained. Easy to rearrange and prior modules are not necessary to comprehend subsequent modules. The actual technical modules could easily be expanded upon.
Some of the modules could have been combined into a single, slightly longer module, while others should have been broken apart, especially the scenic painting and color theory module. There are sections within several modules that do not directly fit and seem to have been included in a more stream of conscious manner or after thought.
It would have been nice to have an index with clickable links as well a way to link to definitions within the text. Too many blank filler pages.
A few mistakes, but mostly just simple typos.
This book doesn't delve into anything cultural.
Overall a decent book. I may include some of the modules in my courses as a way to get students with little technical/design experience caught up or as a refresher, but in no way would I rely on this text to be a primary textbook for any college level technical or design course.
The book covers a broad survey of topics, stepping beyond the scope of its title. As a result the subject is not covered as thoroughly as it should be for a college-level text. It reads as a survey rather than a practical manual. The student is... read more
The book covers a broad survey of topics, stepping beyond the scope of its title. As a result the subject is not covered as thoroughly as it should be for a college-level text. It reads as a survey rather than a practical manual. The student is expected to learn how things are done rather than how to do them, that theatre happens rather than how to make it happen.
The author writes with the insight of practical experience, giving us the perspective of a working professional. That is a real strength. In some cases familiarity has gotten in the way of accuracy. There are statements that are misleading and others that confuse in their brevity.
The text is relevant in the broader strokes, and most relevant in its survey of theatre practice. The technical areas are rendered in broad strokes without detail that will require update, with exception of the Lighting Equipment module, which is already out of date, particularly as it relates to emerging LED technology.
In most instances the jargon is defined in context, which makes it more jarring in the several instances where terms are introduced without context. When those terms are then explained further down the page it seems out of order. In like manner, a concept or information is sometimes referred to as common knowledge before it has been introduced as specialty information.
There is a distinct shift in writing style about halfway through, where the desire to be comprehensive seems to collide with the need to be brief. Technical areas are defined by lists with little of the depth of discussion that would be necessary to make the information practical for the reader.
A full third of the text is taken up by discussion that is ancillary to the focus of the book/course. Orientation and background perspective are important, but it works against modularity to have the specifically Technical Theatre topics in relatively few modules. It would help to expand or increase the technical theatre modules to include greater depth in those areas.
Organization is more successful in the early modules and less developed later on. Discussion tends to run-on without a clear logical progression in some instances. Technical instruction could be expanded upon with clear sub-topic areas. Doing so would encourage a more logical organization. It would benefit from more illustrations in the technical sections.
It would be most helpful to have hyperlinks within the pdf so that glossary words could be defined without having to page to the end and then manually find your place again. Pop-up definitions would be nice, or hyperlink to the glossary entry and back to the place where the word was used. Barring that, or in addition to that, including a glossary at the end of each chapter would serve both to group the entries and make them more accessible.
There is some very fine writing here, particularly in the early chapters. In fact, the first two pages include some of the most succinct and well expressed description of collaboration that I've run across. That eloquence begins to break down a bit around module 7, and there is increasing evidence of insufficient proofreading in the latter half of the book, including omitted words, incomplete sentences, awkward sentence structure, and extra verbs.
There is nothing in my reading that would be construed as culturally insensitive or offensive. There is an overarching assumption that theatre as a practice, and this information, is available to all.
The text is primarily a discussion of theatre practice in the U.S. and U.S. standards are mentioned in the materials section, but without going the next step to contrast with other standards. This is either a missed opportunity or an unnecessary call out. The first several modules were an enjoyable read and I may well incorporate them, and one or two of the others, as readings in intro courses. If the technical modules were expanded with an eye toward practical application of the material this could be a viable text overall. As it is, it has insufficient depth as a Technical Theatre text to adopt for college level work.
The spectrum of subject material covered here, across technical theatre and stagecraft, is wide and varied. However, the depth is rather shallow. With the understanding that this is an "entry-level", the book falls shy of presenting enough... read more
The spectrum of subject material covered here, across technical theatre and stagecraft, is wide and varied. However, the depth is rather shallow. With the understanding that this is an "entry-level", the book falls shy of presenting enough information for the uninitiated learner to gain perspective. This is further complicated by the overwhelming lack of visual references. The text contains little to no pictorial information or visual examples. Some modules contain a few simplistic diagrams or strangely created hand-drawn-scribbled-over illustrations, but provides no realistic pictures of materials, equipment, or techniques in a realistic theatrical setting. This is a problem... especially for an "entry-level" learner.
The instruction and description that is contained in the book is accurate, well-written, and easily read. It's brevity is unfortunate, as the author has a great approachable style in the presentation of what can be rather dry, technical information.
This is truly an "entry-level" text. Many of the current, even industry-standard techniques, equipment, and materials from the past 20 years of production have been ignored in exchange for a hobbyist view of "traditional" theatre methods and methodologies. This text book would be acceptable for a short, simple, introduction to Theatre class at a primary or secondary level school. However, should the institution wish to teach production techniques, in a real manner, that could lead to a realized production situation, this book is incomplete in it's explanation and training. The text is not suitable for "Performing Arts" schools, Magnet schools, Higher Ed learning, or classes interested in provide thorough and specific Theatre training.
Again, my reaction is that the written style of the text is highly approachable, not over-wrought with expectations of prior knowledge, and easily read. But the brevity of the description and the absence of visual aids leave a massive gap in it's clarity. This subject simply cannot be taught without specific and thorough context clues.
The text has solid consistency in its approach. But, must have more in-depth conversation of topics to be effective.
The modules and modality is great. The structuring of the topics in the order of introduction makes great sense and is a great gateway of introduction for the entry-level learner.
The modules and modality is great. The structuring of the topics in the order of introduction makes great sense and is a great gateway of introduction for the entry-level learner.
The visual, textual layout of the text is uncomplicated and easy on the eyes. But the lack of visual representations could likely change that. This book needs visual references to what is an overwhelmingly visual art form. The visuals necessary to lend the specific context needed for learning are sparse, incomplete, overly simplistic to the point of being nondescript, distorted with penciled hashing, or just plain absent.
The text seems to be well written with grammatical accuracy.
The textbook is direct to the subject matter and poses no cultural worries or issues.
The author clearly has passion and knowledge for the subject and all its details. The material that presents itself in the book is valuable. The shortcomings of the book are its lack of depth. It is very difficult for a true entry-level learner to experience contextual learning when no specific context is offered, to experience a visual medium without the visuals to experience. The breadth of knowledge of technical theatre and stagecraft is massive, and consistently shifting and evolving. This book is clearly not designed to cover the intricacies and full spectrum of that subject matter. Unfortunately this text falls short of opening up even the basics to its audience. An Introduction To Technical Theatre is meant to open the door, but only does so a crack. With minimal, but meaningful, extension of discussion and the addition of visual examples, this book could be invaluable with this level of access.
This book does a lovely job covering the basics of the main areas of theatrical expertise. I particularly liked the constant reminders of safety issues throughout the different areas, this seems to be an area too often overlooked. read more
This book does a lovely job covering the basics of the main areas of theatrical expertise. I particularly liked the constant reminders of safety issues throughout the different areas, this seems to be an area too often overlooked.
Everything is accurate to the best of my knowledge. (my knowledge including absolutely nothing about sound design)
I think there was a good balance of keeping it up to date without making the book too easily dated. I do wish that just a little more time had been spent on LED and intelligent lighting.
The glossary at the back will help the students tremendously, I do think some photo examples might be of use in addition to the included drawings.
The text is consistent throughout, there is even a section on how important it is to use the correct terminology when communicating!
The modular style will make it very easy to tie into lectures.
No interface issues, I would have liked to see some photos of past productions used in the examples. While all of the drawings were fantastic, when talking about the different types of sets (Single, Unit, Multi) example photos would go a long way to helping the students understand the concepts.
Well written and easy to understand.
I did not notice any incidences of cultural insensitivity.
Overall I think this is a good alternative to the usual $200 textbook most of us use for our Stagecraft classes. I'm going to try it out for my Fall class and see how it works in practice. While it seems a bit basic, for first-year students I think that may be a good thing.
This book has a great depth to the sections and areas covered. Just about everything I could think of worthy of having it's own section did. The only possible area that might warrant a bit more depth is video/projection design and usage in the... read more
This book has a great depth to the sections and areas covered. Just about everything I could think of worthy of having it's own section did. The only possible area that might warrant a bit more depth is video/projection design and usage in the theatre, but this is an area that is still actively evolving, so this lack of a dedicated section really should not detract from the text.
I didn't find anything that was inaccurate in the text. A super minor quibble is that the rear elevation drawing of the platform was presented vertically, which makes it look like a flat, not a platform, but this really is a personal preference....I would have presented it in plan view, with drafted hidden lines to show the internal framing or with the lid removed. Doing this would have allowed it to be oriented in a more traditional (at least for me) manner. It's clearly labeled as a platform, and defined, so my reaction to it is more of surprise than anything else.
The book makes nice use of references to sources for additional materials/readings, which makes it more relevant in my mind. It knows it can't cover every last detail for all the areas, but does a great job of pointing you in the proper location for more information. Technical theatre tends to evolve somewhat rapidly with technology changes, but this book is framed in a way that will allow it to stay relevant for quite some time.
Everything is very clear and well written. No issues on this front.
The book is very consistent and well laid out.
The book is highly modular. I greatly appreciate this aspect of the text.
Organization is logical, straight-forward and effective.
There are no interface or navigation issues detected.
No grammatical errors were noticed or detected.
There are no issues or cultural concerns with the text.
I am highly likely to add this book as an additional resource in several courses, and share it with faculty teaching in affiliated technical theatre areas.
For an online book, I found this text to be appropriate for beginning level students who are just starting out in the world of technical theatre. I especially enjoyed the section discussing theatre as a collaborative art. The text covers basic... read more
For an online book, I found this text to be appropriate for beginning level students who are just starting out in the world of technical theatre. I especially enjoyed the section discussing theatre as a collaborative art. The text covers basic concepts in scenic design. lighting design, sound, costumes and stage management. The author touches on all these areas in a brief, but effective manner. The book has a detailed glossary. However, I wish it had a table of contents.
In reviewing the text I did not find any areas where I questioned what I was reading. It seemed to be straight forward and written in a way that an entry level student could comprehend.
I would say that yes the content discussed is up to date with basic technical theater skills and areas of concentration. The areas that are discussed are typical and traditional and would not be in jeopardy of becoming out of date. Within the areas of scenic design, lighting, costumes, sound and stage management the author relays basic fundamental information that is necessary in understanding each area. Although I would like to see more discussion in regards to basic make-up. Since video projection has become popular in a lot of theaters I would have liked to have seen this area discussed briefly.
I found that the text was very easy to read. As stated earlier I feel that information is delivered in a way that would be accessible for entry level students to comprehend.
The text seemed to be consistent throughout. I felt that the level of information remained equal in regards to the different areas of technical theatre that are discussed within the book.
The text is divided into separate chapters/modules where each chapter/module focuses on a specific area of study. The text was easy to follow and the delineation between the different subject matters seemed to make sense to me. As stated earlier, I wish there was a table of contents to make looking up a specific area easier.
The topics that are discussed in this text are presented in an easy to read fashion. I suppose when creating a text that revolves around the different areas of technical theatre in a general/comprehensive way, it does not matter what subject areas are discussed in any order.
I enjoyed all of the sketches of different pieces of equipment that one might find in a theater. However, reading the book from the viewpoint of a student, I would have liked to have seen more color images that supported the areas being discussed. It would have been nice to see a few color production photos that illustrates some of the concepts touched on throughout the text.
As far as I can tell there were not any grammatical errors.
This text did not contain anything that seemed offensive or insensitive.
I enjoyed this text very much and would consider using it in our Stage Craft course.
Topics in all technical areas were touched on. There isn't a technical area I can think of that didn't get its own module. There were as well modules on several of the different areas needs for equipment. There was even discussion of proper... read more
Topics in all technical areas were touched on. There isn't a technical area I can think of that didn't get its own module. There were as well modules on several of the different areas needs for equipment. There was even discussion of proper etiquette and behavior backstage. Some technical areas were more thoroughly explored than others (some by quite a bit), but in general this book attempted to be quite thorough in its comprehensiveness.
While the areas most familiar to the author (lighting and scenery) seem to be mostly correct and quite thoroughly gone over, other areas were skimped, and there were some very subjective comments. In particular, in the discussion of costuming there were outright mistakes and misuses of terminology and job skills. I would not use this book without additional resources to correct the mistakes when talking about costuming.
The equipment lists will, of course, become dated over time, but at this point all modules address backstage and technical theatre as it is run today.
This book was easy to read. Any more specific terminology was explained and its usage demonstrated. I personally have very little experience in some of the technical areas, but I never felt lost reading about them. There was a great deal of repetitive verbiage in the early modules discussing theater personnel set ups, collaborations between directors and designers, and who made what decisions when. But most of the other modules flowed well and smoothly.
There were no issues with consistency that I could perceive.
Excellently done in its breakup into modules deliberately planned for easy reorganization.
The breakup into different modules seemed to work well for the most part. Though some choices felt odd... Why put color theory in with painting? Why not its own module so as to compare and contrast with lighting color theory? Lighting and scenery each had their own modules on equipment, but not costuming.
Many of the diagrams and illustrations were fuzzy and smeared looking. There were a few with text too small to comfortably read.
There tended to be a typographical in spelling mistake in every other module. Noticeable, but not such that the meaning and intention was hampered.
No issues noted with cultural references or pronoun assignments.
I appreciate the availability of an open textbook in this field. Many of the students who are required to take an introductory class such as this are not planning to pursue the topic further. Having an inexpensive and easily available alternative to pricey textbooks is a boon to such students. But I wish the author had consulted with more experts in the fields he is less familiar with.
The text is a strong example of how an online text can offer a comprehensive and effective resource that provides the essential elements necessary to educate students learning about technical theatre. The topics covered in each Module clearly... read more
The text is a strong example of how an online text can offer a comprehensive and effective resource that provides the essential elements necessary to educate students learning about technical theatre. The topics covered in each Module clearly defines each area effectively and expands upon areas not seen in other technical texts. An Introduction to Technical Theatre arms students with the necessary knowledge to become a professional artists.
The text is accurate, error-free and unbiased. I especially appreciate the first section, A Collaborative Art, addressing the necessary elements that must come together to create a positive and effective technical design and experience.
This text is user friendly with an emphasis on 'direct application'. Students will appreciate its clear and concise approach to technical theatre work and Instructors will find that the text is structured in a way that should updates need to be made, it can be completed with ease. I recommend that a Table of Contents be included with links to each Module directly from that table of contents.
The text is written in a manner that is engaging so that students can expand and deepen their understanding of the information outlined. Each Module helps students to better understand the subject by providing a context for the terminology covered; using accessible and understandable language.
The scope of the textbook and topic coverage are consistent in terms of terminology and framework.
The textbook is divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course and includes illustrations, tables and diagrams. The images included support each section with clarity and in high resolution quality. The text includes a Glossary which is extremely helpful to further explain terminology and a Module on 'Etiquette', offering the reader an insight into the environment of a production in action and what is expected before you encounter a dilemma.
The textbook is organized into broad sections entitled Modules, each addressing topis that are presented in a coherent, clear manner. Within each Module the reader can easily access breakout sections that clearly define and address specific aspects of a topic, making it easy to bring focus to a particular area of study.
All images and charts are free of interface issues. The text is free of interface issues.
No grammatical errors.
There are no culturally insensitive areas found within this text. The text discusses the need to work collaboratively within an artistic community: defining specific job responsibilities for each area of technical theater and identifies ways of maintaining a harmonious work environment.
I am thrilled to see an OER prepared by a graduate of California Institute of the Arts and who brings professional experience to the development of this text. It is a thorough resource that will be a welcomed addition to my course work.
Table of Contents
- Module 1: Theatre, A Collaborative Art
- Module 2: Organizational Structures
- Module 3: Production Scheduling
- Module 4: Theatre Spaces
- Module 5: Our Stages and Their Equipment
- Module 6: Design and Collaboration
- Module 7: Scenery and Construction
- Module 8: Props and Effects
- Module 9: Stage Management
- Module 10: Costumes and Character Creation
- Module 11: Lighting Design
- Module 12: Lighting Equipment and Control Systems
- Module 13: Sound Design and Equipment
- Module 14: Scene Painting and Color Theory
- Module 15: Stage Crews and Production Etiquette
About the Book
An Introduction to Technical Theatre draws on the author’s experience in both the theatre and the classroom over the last 30 years. Intended as a resource for both secondary and post-secondary theatre courses, this text provides a comprehensive overview of technical theatre, including terminology and general practices.
Introduction to Technical Theatre’s accessible format is ideal for students at all levels, including those studying technical theatre as an elective part of their education. The text’s modular format is also intended to assist teachers approach the subject at their own pace and structure, a necessity for those who may regularly rearrange their syllabi around productions and space scheduling.
About the Contributors
Tal Sanders, Pacific University