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Technical Theatre/Theatre Design and Technology

Program Description

Just the Facts

Technical Theatre/Theatre Design and Technology. A program that prepares individuals to apply artistic, technical and dramatic principles and techniques to the communication of dramatic information, ideas, moods, and feelings through technical theatre methods. Includes instruction in set design, lighting design, sound effects, theatre acoustics, scene painting, property management, costume design, and technical direction and production and use of computer applications to support these functions.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree

High School Courses

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See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

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Related Programs

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Additional Information

If all the world's a stage, then someone has to be responsible for doing the scene changes, lighting and sound, right? Technical theater programs train students for this kind of behind-the-scenes work.

There's no shortage of schools offering the training needed to work in theater. You'll learn to pull the curtains, dim the lights and turn an otherwise empty stage into a fantasy world for actors, dancers and musicians.

Technical theater programs are offered as bachelor's degrees or as one- or two-year programs at community colleges.

Lee Livingstone is the professor in charge of a university technical theater program. She says the community college courses focus mainly on the technical side of things. "The community colleges offer courses that teach the nuts and bolts," she says. A four-year degree includes more academic courses, such as English and history.

Livingstone says students in her program get to work on roughly 24 shows each year, six of which are done in a modern, state-of-the-art theater. "We do work in both the new theater and in older ones to give students experience in both," she says.

Being good with your hands is important, according to Jim Lartin-Drake. He is a professor, designer and technical director in the theater program at Pennsylvania's Dickinson College.

"If I were advising students preparing to work in technical theater, I'd say, do backstage work if you have the opportunity, but barring that, build or make anything that interests you," he says.

"But do it from scratch using raw materials and plans rather than pre-fab kits. Get familiar with the use of basic woodworking tools and techniques however you can."

Lartin-Drake recommends taking shop in high school. "Learn to weld. Learn to solder. Learn to sew," he says. "Learn anything that you can about how things are made, what holds them together and how they work."

But don't neglect your artistic side. Lartin-Drake also recommends attending the theater, visiting museums and taking art classes. "Go to the movies for entertainment, but don't mistake them for theater," he says.

"Learn basic math, particularly geometry. Study science, especially physical sciences," he says.

"Learn about the physical properties of things you take for granted. Learn about electricity -- what it is, how it's made, how it gets to you from where it's made, how it makes things work, and how it can kill you or set fire to your stuff if you're not careful with it."


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Designers

The Entertainment Services and Technology Association (ESTA)
Dedicated to building the business of show business

A Brief Guide to Internet Resources in Theater and Performance Studies
Includes publications, organizations and databases

Glossary of Technical Theater Terms
It's like learning a new language


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