Designer/Technician Guidelines

Master Electrician Guidelines

There are two levels of participation in this area:

  • Master Electrician
  • Assistant Master Electrician

The Master Electrician is responsible for the safe and accurate hanging of the light plot as indicated by the lighting designer and production electrician. He or she is also responsible for the supervision of the lighting crew, programming and operating the lighting console (unless there is an A.M.E. assigned to the show), the maintenance of the show during the run, and the construction and function of any practicals or special effects required by the production.  The master electrician is responsible for ALL scheduling of crewmembers during the production.

The Assistant Master Electrician is responsible to assist the master electrician in all duties as assigned.


The master electrician is responsible for all scheduling of crewmembers in production.  Scheduling for any given call must be posted at least 24 hours in advance on the call board.  It is advisable to post online as well, whether via email, Google Calendar, or some other format, but all calls are required to be posted 24 hours in advance on the call board and crewmembers are to be notified of this policy.  The master electrician must attempt to schedule as equitably as possible, ensuring that all crewmembers work roughly the same number of hours.  

  • Scheduling should be posted on a weekly basis.  Schedules must be submitted to the L&S Supervisor for approval prior to posting.  Do not post an unapproved schedule.
  • It is the ME's job to keep track of attendance.  Any unexcused absences by crewmembers are to be reported to the L&S Supervisor, and the ME must keep records of tardiness or unexcused absences.
  • It is advisable to schedule more time than you may need - it is always easier to cancel a call than schedule one at the last minute.
  • For any questions or suggestions regarding scheduling, contact the L&S Supervisor.


Obtain the following from the lighting supervisor:

  • Circuit Plot
  • Shop Order and Delivery Schedule
  • Lightwright file

In conjunction with the production electrician, develop a prioritized task list for prep and reassess/reprioritize on a daily basis.  


Prior to the prep period of a show, the master electrician must schedule four hours of training for EACH crewmember.  The training breakdown is as follows:

  • 2 hours safety training.  This will be administered by the L&S Supervisor or trainers certified by the L&S Supervisor.  Schedule this training in conjunction with the L&S Supervisor and the production's audio engineer, whose crew will receive the same training.
  • 2 hours General Lighting training.  This will be administered by the ME according to the training curriculum.
  • Overflow time can be used for basic focus training.  You can never administer enough focus training.

Prior to the focus of a show, the master electrician must schedule one hour of training for each crewmember for focus training.  A focus training curriculum is available for download.

If compressed CO2 gas or dry ice will be used for atmospheric effects in a production, the ME must schedule half an hour of training prior to tech for himself/herself and the designated running crewmember(s) who will be assisting with the gas bottles or dry ice.  This training will be administered by the L&S Supervisor.

Keeping records of general lighting training and focus training is no longer required, but records of all safety training procedures will be kept.

All crewmembers will be required to pass two ladder safety training modules at - Stepladder Safety and Single & Extension Ladder Safety.  L&S Supervisor will send out invitations to complete these modules to all members of the crew.

Pulling the Shop Order

With help of the light shop assistants and the lighting crew:

  • All units shall be pulled out, dusted off and have their hardware checked. Any old markings on the yoke or connector should be removed.
  • All lamps and all cables should be tested. Any repairs should be done at this time (including fixing strain relief).
  • If any lamp or lens changes need to be made the unit should be marked accordingly using electrical tape around the yoke.
  • Color should be pulled from the stock files and inserted into the show color file.
  • With the production electrician, the master electrician will prepare hanging cards or hang tapes as deemed necessary by the staff technical supervisor.
  • Light shop staff will pull equipment according to the delivery schedule provided by the production electrician.

Production Meetings

The master electrician is expected to attend all production meetings.


  • All units should be hung ready to focus. All shutters should be pulled out, all gel and templates installed, all units safety cabled, and all units circuited and tested.
  • All ladders and booms should be rigged, hung, and circuited. The master electrician should check with the L&S Supervisor for proper rigging techniques if they are not familiar with rigging.
  • Any changes to the rig (dimmer information, etc) should be communicated to the production electrician in a timely fashion so that regular paperwork updates can be issued.

The master electrician should meet daily with the production electrician and L&S Supervisor to update each other on any new information.

The show must be ready to focus by the date scheduled for the first focus call. This means all units work and are soft patched into the correct channel, all templates and color are in the proper units, all units have the necessary hardware and everything has been hung to the specifications of the lighting designer. The master electrician should be prepared to do a channel check with the lighting designer and the production electrician the day before the first focus call. A show that is not ready to focus at this time is grounds for being pulled from the show and failing Theatre Production.


The master electrician is expected to attend all focus calls. The master electrician is responsible for making sure that the crew is called and is ready to work at the specified time. During the focus, the M.E. (or the A.L.D. or A.M.E.) will run the lighting console (or remote focus unit) and document any changes that occur in the instrument schedule. It is the responsibility of the M.E. to notify the lighting supervisor of any changes in the Lightwright file.

The master electrician shall be responsible for deploying crews during focus.  It is typical for at least three teams to be focusing concurrently.  The first team will focus a light, then the ME will direct the LD to the next team while the first team moves to the next light, and so on.  The ME needs to keep track of which lights have been focused and which still need to be focused.  The ME should be prepared to take notes during the focus sessions.

The master electrician should be available to take care of any problems that arise on the day of focus. The M.E. is responsible for organizing the crew, making sure any necessary equipment is available, and any electrical problems that arise during focus are taken care of. The M.E. is there to keep things running smoothly; the M.E. should not do any of the actual focusing unless absolutely necessary. The lighting designer will “call” the focus but the master electrician is in charge of making sure everything runs as smoothly as possible.

If the assistant lighting designer is not present during focus, the master electrician should be available to record focus charts for each unit.

Technical Rehearsals

The master electrician is responsible for programming and operating the lighting console during all technical rehearsals (unless this duty has been assigned to the A.M.E.). A channel check should be done before every technical rehearsal. At channel check the master electrician should make sure that the instrument works, that the focus hasn’t changed, and that the color is not burned out. Bad lamps should be changed, bad fixtures or cable should be changed out and left, clearly marked, for the light shop assistants to repair, focus notes should be referred to the lighting designer, and color should be changed at the discretion of the lighting designer.

Notes Sessions

At the end of each technical rehearsal and preview, the master electrician, production electrician and the lighting designer will meet to share notes and develop a list of work and focus notes for the next day’s work call.

The master electrician is responsible for securing all necessary crew and equipment for that call. It may also be necessary to coordinate with the technical director to arrange for the necessary dark time and usage of ladders and lifts so as not to stall out other departments.


Channel check should be done before every performance. Once the show is in performance the master electrician is responsible for adjusting focus and changing color.


The master electrician, in conjunction with the production electrician, will supervise the strike of all the instruments, cable, special effects, color, hardware and any other equipment used after the final performance. All units should go to their designated storage location, all gel should be sorted and returned to storage, and all other equipment should be returned to its storage place. At the end of the night the floor should be swept and all ladders returned to storage.

The master electrician and his/her assistant, when present, should fill out a crew evaluation on each crew member and give the evaluations to the department technical director.


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