Day In the Life of WTF's Production Electrician

I followed Production Electrician, Gustavo Emilio Valdes ak.a. “Goose” around his day as he sent vans to NJ, met designers, advised interns, and more.  Going from place to place, he rarely gets a chance to sit at his desk and enjoy the light from his (appropriately) Fresnel “desk lamp.”  As WTF’s Production Electrician he is in charge of electrics for the Main and Nikos Stages as well as the Directing Studio (DA, DI, Fellowship Shows), and Goodrich (Cabarets and Apprentice Nights).   This includes being in charge of finances, basic planning of electrics, scheduling crews, and being a reference for his entire team.

The Lighting Team
(Goose is in the first row, far left)
Photo by Paul Fox

His Day:

He arrives at the office at 7:45.   As the good leader that he is, he has made sure to think of his team: bringing donuts and coffee to give the lighting team an extra boost of energy for a long focus day.  Focus day is the day that the show’s lighting designer comes in to direct the lighting crew to physically focus each of the show’s many lights to the specific location that is necessary for the show.  This can last anywhere between 6 hours for Blood Play to a day and a half for The Bridges of Madison County. 

8:00

He watches his team finish placing lights for Blood Play and acts as a reference.  

Each theatre has an assigned Master Electrician (M.E.), which allows Goose to supervise multiple stages. Nonetheless, he is always on radio and ready to act as a resource.

8:30

Today two apprentices will drive down to Secaucus, NJ to return a supplemental lighting set used for Johnny Baseball.  Goose prints directions, gives them petty cash for food and gas, and picks up the van.

8:45

The apprentices arrive. Goose, the apprentices and lighting crew load the roadboxes onto the van.

9:15

Goose introduces himself to the Blood Play lighting designer and offers himself as a reference.

9:30

He sits down with a lighting intern to talk through her electrics plan for the Fellowship Musical, offers advice, and finds out what he needs to order for her.

10:00

Orders lighting gels for Fellowship Musical.  Drives van to Mill (scene shop) to pick up other roadboxes.  Called to be a reference at multiple locations. Does paperwork.

The Fellowship Musical
Poster by Matt Meir

1:00-2:00

Lunch break

3:00-5:00

Attempts to do more paperwork.  Called to answer questions, etc.

5:00

5 PM is the end of the workday for most vendors, so after 5 his focus shifts to planning the next day for his crew.

5:30

While Monday is Equity “Dark” Day, there are often special MainStage events and Non-Equity shows on Monday, so it is hardly a quiet day for Goose.  Furthermore, this Monday they loaded-in the lights for Cabaret 3 into Goodrich.

The show call for the theatres starts at 5:30 so at this point he is a reference to his M.E.s  and the intern show operators, in case any last minute trouble shooting needs to happen.

7:30 or 8:00

(Curtain for Equity Shows, Curtain is variable for Non-Equity and special events)

Once the curtain goes up, he uses the relatively quiet time to catch up on e-mail, finances, scheduling, etc.

12:00 A.M.

The last things he does every night is attend the midnight production meeting of whatever show is currently in tech. Based on whatever is discussed he finalizes and distributes the next day’s intern schedule to his staff.

It is a long day, but he loves it.  Read our interview with him to hear about how he came to be WTF's Production Electrician and his favorite part of the job! 

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