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Former theater techs angsty over pay issue

Bear River actors and Theater Manager Erin Beatie prepare for an upcoming production of “Our Town.” Photo by Isabella Christmon

Theater technicians are grappling with what matters more: money, or opportunity?

Despite technicians getting a wage in previous years, these students stopped getting paid at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. This subject has been recently reopened because of the hire of the new theater manager, Erin Beatie. Mrs. Beatie opted to continue not paying theater technicians. The only paid opportunities for Bear River theater techs are when outside programs, productions not put on by the school, use the Bear River theater.

For some students, this has been controversial due to the fact that they would like compensation for their work although some others like to do it for the experience. Some regard the program as a job, and believe that paychecks should come hand-in-hand.

“I feel like if you’re putting in the hours and all this effort into something that you learn, and your taking time out of your personal life; you should be getting paid for it,” said Zoe Brothers, a senior. “It is a job. You should be getting paid for it.”

Senior Trevor Chandler agreed that the paycheck was part of what stopped him from helping with tech, but that wasn’t the only reason.  

“I mean, it was like a split between the theater manager leaving and the paychecks,” he said.  “So it was kind of like we lost both of those things, and those were both the reasons that I was in it.”

Although some students feel that they should get paid, the theater manager hopes that tech students see it as an opportunity to gain valuable experience.

“Technicians can get paid or can not get paid in the real world,” Mrs. Beatie expressed. “I feel technicians should get paid once they’re considered to be professionals and have proven themselves. Usually with theater stuff there is a trial period of some sort, and having a tech program in a high school period is unusually rare.”

Some students that work tech care more about the experience than the payment.

“I honestly don’t want to be paid for tech because I hate taking money from people and also … it would take about $2,500 dollars to pay (each) tech,” Jack Kendall, a junior explained. “There’s no reason that you should have to be paid because it’s more of a volunteer thing rather than a forced thing. I get to express myself and I get to help put on a show and make everything come alive.”

Mrs. Beatie further explained that the money should be going towards the programs or clubs that the shows are raising funds for.

“The biggest reason why I won’t pay technicians for what we call ‘In House’ shows (school productions) is because the money charged for paying the technicians is taken straight from those clubs,” Mrs. Beatie explains. “In other words, that is money that was specifically raised by your friends and peers for the programs they love that is taken away.” 

— Annabelle Owyoung contributed to this report.

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Former theater techs angsty over pay issue