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Follow Up To 16 Essential Items For An Entertainment Technician

By Anna Robb

Tom Warneke’s 16 Essential Items For An Entertainment Technician article generated many comments and responses from around the globe, so we thought we would collate the feedback and follow up with the public’s suggestions and add to his list. So as decided by you all:

6 additional items to consider for your kit:

1. Black Gaff Tape.

There’s not a technician alive that has never picked up a roll of gaff. From marking out prop squares to securing cables to covering a hole in a curtain to last-minute fixes onstage, we all use it. And during that late night tech rehearsal when you are too tired to rip it with your fingers and you use your teeth instead, we have all received that disapproving look from our colleague. The question is, do you have it in your kit or is the company providing the gaff?

2. Head Lamp – Petzl

You work in the dark, you need light from time to time. Not just for sitting on a hard hat, a Petzl light is great for work where you need your hands-free while a show is running, especially with the clip on colours available, you have your own blue light for side of stage or up in the grid. Tom did mention he had a Petzl on his hard hat but we decided to put it on the official list.

3. Steel-Toed Shoes

A stage is technically a construction site on which we let actors and dancers walk across in bare feet.  During load in and load out when most of the action is happening, steel-toes are a must-have item for those involved in the set-up. Without them, don’t blame anyone but yourself when a piece of truss drops on your feet.

4. Measuring Device

Depending on your trade, you might want to stock a laser level or laser distance measuring device or a simple measuring tape to keep from guesstimating.

5. Snacks

As entertainment technicians, short work days are rare so a 12 to 16-hour shift is going to need some sustenance. One reader’s favourite is Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Pretzels. What’s your snack of choice? Do you fuel your day with coffee, Red Bull or water?

6. The Passion

I like this one. Who is going to work a 16-hour day without a truckload of passion? A friend once said to me, “There are two types of people in this world, those who consume culture, and those who create it”. The people who work in entertainment are culture creators, many don’t do it for the money, they do it because they love what they do and need to participate in creating something. From community theatre to multi-million dollar productions, the intent and the investment is the same. And don’t tell me that the creativity just lives on the artistic department side of the fence. Technicians can be some of the most creative and innovative people out there. The way they solve problems on the fly, adapt to ever-changing artistic directions, mix sound to make it spread through the space beautifully, light a performer from just the right direction to deliver the emotion of the scene, produce a prop that fits the era and location of intent. They are out there working passionately and creatively every day. Keep passion in your kit.

Topics of much debate:

Multi-tool

Leatherman and Gerber hold the market on multi-tools and many people have their preference.  The debate online however was; why use a leatherman when you could be using the proper tool for the application required? Sure, it’s great to cut things here and there or open a beer at the end of the day but why use the Phillips head on a multi-tool when you could use a proper screwdriver or drill? This one clearly sits with personal preference.

Wrench/Shifter

Depending on where you come from, you may call it a wrench or a shifter but online conversation was not about the name of the tool but which size was the most useful, and whether you should go for a cheap throwaway version that you can afford to lose, or, invest in a quality tool that lasts a long time. Again, personal preference, how much you are touring, the application of your tools with your area of expertise are factors that play in the direction of tool quality and size.

Thank you to all who contributed comments on Tom’s article. We are always eager to read how people feel about our work and content!

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