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Jake Brice
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Possibly your two best bets are: Speak to head of Drama at your school asking if whoever provides technical support is willing to start to show you the ropes 

Or 

Find a local amateur dramatics group who are prepared to do the same thing. 

Please be aware that at your age it will be illegal for people to let you do certain things for safety reasons. Also a little knowledge can be incredibly dangerous, so be prepared for a long learning curve. 

All that said, I have guided youngsters of your age and they have ended up operating lights for shows and be a real help. However you must listen, question and learn, and if told you cannot do something, accept it gracefully.

Welcome aboard from an old geezer who still doesn't know it all, learns something new most shows, but does know when to stop and ask. 

 

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Another vote for the school thing first, if your school does things like that (not many do, sadly, these days) 
But as Robin says, even then you're likely to be limited on what they'll let you do at your age.

Am-dram groups are in a similar position, too. At my venue we had to stop taking on tech volunteers that were under 16 as the rules that apply to child performers was also waved at us for non performing kids (and quite rightly, too). 

So the simple answer MAY be to wait just a couple of years before you can get proper hands-on stuff, but please DO start to read the variety of books on the subject to give yourself an idea of what's what in the basics of lighting a stage. Francis Reid, McCandless, and others I think are all detailed somewhere in this forum - likely in the beginners please section, so have a search.

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Theirs a couple of things you can practice at home these are essential skills that will serve you well thought your career,of course the higher you climb the career ladder the less you will use them,but at least you will have the experience of doing these tasks and know what they entail.

1) coffee/tea making,not just making the beverage correctly but be a being  able  to remember a complicated brew order,prepare it and deliver the correct beverage  to  the correct person will gain you more Kudos than someone who just slops 6 coffees and 6 teas into mugs and shouts "TEAUP ",leaving everybody to sort out half of the job you were ask to do

2)safe operation of sweeping equipment.learn how to use a broom correctly and efficiently,practice with different types and learn were  a soft bristle broom is better than a stiff bristle,also practice the transfer between broom-dustpan-bin .You might wish to follow this up with mopping the floor.

Having a good knowledge of the above will prove invaluable in your first few days  weeks  months  years working backstage.

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Whilst I do not disagree that @Jake Brice needs to really manage his expectations, and also know that getting the brew in and sweeping up are key parts of the job, the lad has shown some iniative posting here, and surely that is to his credit. If we switch youngsters off completely, will they ever come back? What he can do is, as stated, severely restricted by safeguarding and H&S considerations. There are ways to get round both safely, but it might take a little creative. Clearly access equipment is completely out court, but being shown the fundamentals of how a desk works, how colours mix, simple explanation of DMX etc can all be done safely. 

I started helping with productions at school at about his age, over half a century ago, but under the watchful eye of a teacher who left me in no doubt the immediate consequences of not following instructions to the letter.

That said, we have all suffered the annoying over confident behaviour of some immature lads. Although interestingly I have never ever found that with girls wanting to tech! 

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23 hours ago, themadhippy said:

Theirs a couple of things you can practice at home these are essential skills that will serve you well thought your career,of course the higher you climb the career ladder the less you will use them,but at least you will have the experience of doing these tasks and know what they entail.

1) coffee/tea making,not just making the beverage correctly but be a being  able  to remember a complicated brew order,prepare it and deliver the correct beverage  to  the correct person will gain you more Kudos than someone who just slops 6 coffees and 6 teas into mugs and shouts "TEAUP ",leaving everybody to sort out half of the job you were ask to do

2)safe operation of sweeping equipment.learn how to use a broom correctly and efficiently,practice with different types and learn were  a soft bristle broom is better than a stiff bristle,also practice the transfer between broom-dustpan-bin .You might wish to follow this up with mopping the floor.

Having a good knowledge of the above will prove invaluable in your first few days  weeks  months  years working backstage.

 

16 hours ago, Robin D said:

Whilst I do not disagree that @Jake Brice needs to really manage his expectations, and also know that getting the brew in and sweeping up are key parts of the job, the lad has shown some iniative posting here, and surely that is to his credit. If we switch youngsters off completely, will they ever come back? What he can do is, as stated, severely restricted by safeguarding and H&S considerations. There are ways to get round both safely, but it might take a little creative. Clearly access equipment is completely out court, but being shown the fundamentals of how a desk works, how colours mix, simple explanation of DMX etc can all be done safely. 

I started helping with productions at school at about his age, over half a century ago, but under the watchful eye of a teacher who left me in no doubt the immediate consequences of not following instructions to the letter.

That said, we have all suffered the annoying over confident behaviour of some immature lads. Although interestingly I have never ever found that with girls wanting to tech! 

OK I was lucky as my high school had a brand new hall with terrific stage and at the also half a century ago at the age of 14 (3rd year/year 9) I:

Was let lose to complete the lighting wiring  and add sockets to the ring circuit

Wired a new switchboard

Assisted with 15 ft step ladders and structural work in the suspended ceiling for lighting bars

Assisted building a mezz floor on one side of the stage

Built and erected scenery

Hung and focussed lights

Used dads amp and speakers for shows

Rewired hall lights so we could dimm them

The list goes on but much of what I did would not now be permissable now.

 

Realistically Mad Hippy has much good advice to offer, basically he is saying become one of the team and learn from others, start at the bottom and your skills and abilities will very quickly be recognised. Even things like :

"Pass a screwdriver" is a test, assess the situation and try to predict which one from the brimming toolbox is most appropriate.

Making tea and sweeping is very much part of the job, recognise when both are required, along with everything else and deal with them. All of the menial tasks are important and bit by bit your tasks will steer towards and include what you're good at and the prettier bits.

Robin sums it up well, I for one would take posting this question on here as a good sign, If I was in a position to offer assistance and close to you I'd be inviting a meet.

I've done several school drama workshops, juniors and seniors, and love to see the way the youngsters absorb and steer themselves in various directions, the last I did summer, school 2019,  we ended up with 3 mock up lighting rigs as the confidence/skill level increased, culminating in a show for parents totally lit, programmed and run by 9&10year olds, we even got them to tell us where to position and focus lights. Basically the only thing they were not permitted to do was climb ladders.

As said, if your school doesn't do this contact the local AmDram groups or other groups that may do drama, think out of the box too such as ask your teachers which other schools may have a drama department, womens institute (Don't laugh- they will be only too pleased for the approach and will know which members may be involved in drama elsewhere), churches, do you get local freebee parish of council magazines/news letters through the door, this one may scare you - U3A will also be very approachable and helpful.

 

Good luck and I wish you very well.

 

Edited by sunray
As jivemaster indicates, professional adult theatre will be virtually impossible to break into at your age due to the strict regulation..
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Jake; be aware that you might be asking too broad a question of a forum inhabited by theatre technology professionals. Are you "interested" in it as a hobby or do you want to pursue a career? My advice to those who say career is simply "don't", it is too hard, too badly rewarded, the conditions are lousy and most people throw in the towel in their 30's in order to eat regularly/have a family/live somewhere other than a  tour bus among other blokes socks (and worse!).

If, like us, it is something a lot more than "wanting" then read the books, check out school and youth theatre, volunteer to clean lanterns, pay attention to the Hippy and use Blue Room search like an addict. This is an amazing resource with hundreds of topics on the most esoteric of questions and yours has been asked many, many times before. Whatever we respond here there have been dozens more different responses in the past. 

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30 minutes ago, kerry davies said:

Are you "interested" in it as a hobby or do you want to pursue a career? My advice to those who say career is simply "don't", it is too hard, too badly rewarded, the conditions are lousy and most people throw in the towel in their 30's in order to eat regularly/have a family/live somewhere other than a  tour bus among other blokes socks (and worse!).

One item of advice that comes up here in response to these queries, if you are looking at lighting, or technical theatre as a career, is that you should consider what qualifications you are aiming for, have they any value when you need to make that career change in your 30's ? 

Someone who loved lighting, but decided at 18  it was better as a hobby and got a job outside the industry.

 

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Indeed. My history was growing up with my father being the church warden and the 'microphone system' was transported between home and church and back every Sunday for church services and Thursday evening for Rock and Roll in the church hall, the transport being my pushchair. There even exists a photo of me sitting on the loudspeakers and holding on for dear life. The kit was also used for dads works Christmas Childrens party and the local village fete.

Dad worked for a printer and I went into BT so the PA side of things was very much a hobby which gradually expanded and in 1977 there were so many bookings for silver jubilee we registered as a business but still a sideline until 1995 when I did a year of night club sound and light installation and serviceing then into AV systems (Mostly financial services video conferencing installations) but the industry almost collapsed due to 9/11. In 2005  I went self employed doing mostly controls systems (heating/ventilation etc) but the video/sound/lighting just got lumped into everything else. It's only really the last 10 years or so I started getting involved with theatre but realistically for several AmDrams of varying quality/ability and only the last 5 years I've been aquiring theatre lighting gear, just in time to retire🙄.

Yes I can genuinly say I've been in the entertainment business for 60 years but it has been my 'day job' for only a short part of my working life.

Edited by sunray
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Quote

How did we survive? 

From the ingrained sensibility hammered into us from a young age, instead of being wrapped in cotton wool and not allowed to do anything.

Quote

, but under the watchful eye of a teacher

Ours left us to it,including building   the scaffold tower,the only teacher intervention was being told to turn the radio down as it was disturbing  other lessons.Another vote though for getting another trade,electrician is a useful one,but the way the industry's gone in the past few years maybe computer networking.

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Remember that detailed skills learned now will be ancient history by the time you actually need to make money to live on.  Five and ten years ago LEDs were novelties, now they are the norm with problems problems in or with legacy power and control systems.

A good to excellent understanding of what computers can do will assist in a theatre career or in any other career -probably a wise choice.

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1 hour ago, themadhippy said:

From the ingrained sensibility hammered into us from a young age, instead of being wrapped in cotton wool and not allowed to do anything.

Ours left us to it,including building   the scaffold tower,the only teacher intervention was being told to turn the radio down as it was disturbing  other lessons. 

Same type of school setting, allowed to do everything, use tallerscope, (and had to unearth the out riggers), wiring leads and lanterns, even built 8 foot high staging platform out of scaffold bits that we had lying around. 

14 minutes ago, Jivemaster said:

Remember that detailed skills learned now will be ancient history by the time you actually need to make money to live on.   e.

True, in 1980's I was working with valve PMR transmitters / receivers, in 1990's I was working with Kilosteam Multiplexers & DEC Servers, 2000's, GSM (2G) phone networks, 2010, Command & Control Systems based on Win XP machines, all now technology  that is either gone or going.  2020's, 4G LTE.

There is a need to continually update skills, even in the profession you are working in, crossing between industries unless you are at CEO / Director level is difficult.

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Often surprises me (but not THAT much, tbh) when yet another BT type raises a hand in here owning up to working for the company I have (for 43 years, now) and working theatre or gigs in some way shape or form at the same time.

Back when I started, as several here will likely attest to, some of the standard patching equipment used in many theatres was of the old 'Post Office' type jack fields, and I'm sure many amateur venues had bits & bobs that had been 'rescued' from one exchange or another over the years. 🙂

In fact, looking back through the archive pics, this one does indeed show the tell-tale cream racking that I've known throughout my working life on the right there...
No photo description available.

I'm not one of the chaps in that pic, as it was a couple of years or so before I started there, but the set up was definitely there when I moved over in about 1981/82...
Strand SP60 LX desk in front and I believe an old Tascam (I think) 24-ch analogue mixer sat up top.

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