June 2015

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June 2015


Is There Life beyond the Fourth Wall?

Dave Shuhy Education Commission

Charity Works Dream Ball 2014 was designed from floor to ceiling with an absinthe dream in mind.

Photos/Hargrove, Inc./FotoBriceno © Copyright (2015) by Hargrove, Inc. All rights reserved.

One of the big questions for students considering studying technical theatre in college is “What am I supposed to do once I get out?” Obviously many choose to pursue a career in theatre. However, that might not be the right path for everyone.

The skills students acquire in carpentry, painting, drafting, stage management, and design can be valuable to employers beyond the “fourth wall.” The world of special events, tradeshows, and exhibits can open up new opportunities and provide a wide range of beneficial experiences while working for big-name clients.

Jobs vary widely. Scene shop skills could be leveraged to work in carpentry or paint shops, or in production installing scenery, lighting, sound and/or rigging for events. Stage management experience can lend itself to managing installations and accounts, while those with CAD experience can translate designers’ 3D models into shop drawings. One CAD department manager said he was looking for:

  • A good understanding of carpentry, preferably for stage
  • The ability to organize and prioritize work, and be flexible
  • Strong drafting skills, ideally 3D modeling in CAD

It’s a huge field, and the benefits can make this a viable alternative career to traditional theatre. Salaries tend to be livable, and full-time positions come with benefits (healthcare and vacation). The variety of work is staggering, and work can be found in most major cities.

Obviously it’s not for everyone. However, for many in the field, it could be an interesting alternative.

The Leukemia Ball 2014 was designed with inspiring décor and messaging inviting guests to "imagine…" at the event.

The décor at the 2013 Presidential Inauguration set the stage and the atmosphere for President Obama.