Life Behind the Stage

A glance of all the things that really go into a play, other than just acting.

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Life Behind the Stage

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Days are spent drilling holes, meticulously planning lights and mastering sound cues, from rehearsal one to tech week the “techies” are busy, working in the booth or workshop to make the show more than a few kids standing on stage saying prewritten lines.

If you have ever been to a play you have probably only noticed what the actors did, if she was good at acting in love with him, or if he really was able to meld with his character. Everything else gets glossed over. To many of us the costumes are there because of course they are, since the play takes place in a home of course they look like they are in a house. But if you actually look, you see the texturing of the lights, the background ambient noise, the historical accuracy of the costumes. And you never see the stage manager who is about to lose her head rushing to have people make their cues, get that curtain open, silence noisy actors, and communicate with the people in the back.

But if any of these things were gone you would know in two seconds. If for The Little Mermaid Ariel walked on in vans and a hoodie you would know, and probably be a little confused. If none of the actors were in makeup you would think they were all ghosts with how much the stage lights wash them out. If the lead technician missed a sound cue you would probably wonder why someone said come in when the audience heard no doorbell or knock.

Sara Rosenthal, a senior at SHS who is the head of tech and has been President of the Drama club for the last three years, describes her job in tech as “I am the technical manager, so I’m basically watching and overseeing everything in the sound booth, and I handle a lot of the special effects that happen in the show, such as smoke, bubbles, disco balls, things like that. I’m also the lighting designer, so I’m basically portraying the mood of the show, making sure the audience can actually see what is happening on stage, defining positive and negative space, just making it happen. Sophomore year I went to state with my light design for Middletown by Will Eno, which is a contemporary play we did in the winter, and I basically explained everything I did for the show, how I did the lights, colors, shapes, texture, things like that and I placed second in state, so that was pretty cool.”

Basically she overseas all the light designs, all the sound ques. As she is a senior she has been spending a lot of time as of late training the light and sound technicians for next year. Another main aspect of tech is managing the house, which includes everything from selling tickets, to helping with makeup, to communicating what is happening with the actors backstage to the light and sound technicians in the booth.

SHS senior Jaiden Heaton has helped manage the house for all 12 plays that have been done at SHS since her freshman year,  and explains her job as “My job as stage manager is to, well it’s pretty obvious it’s to manage things. Things like updating the rehearsal schedule, keeping track of all the actors, helping design and build the set also ensuring during the shows that everything runs smoothly and if it doesn’t I come up with a way to fix what went wrong.”

Last year the head costumer graduated with the class of 2018 without someone to step into the role of head costumer. For the Spring Musical The Little Mermaid SHS student Danielle Trenkler has been head of costumes and sees her role as “Basically I finish the vision of the show, that actors and actresses are performing to the best of their ability. The rest of tech and crew makes the sound and the visuals. But I make their character, and it’s been really fun.”

As all the actors do is act, of course tech is absolutely necessary. They make everything we see, and are responsible for so much of the work you see on stage, and put in every ounce of work that the actors do.

SHS theater teacher and director Zachary Olson, who used to be both a techie and actor, describes the importance of tech as “Tech is the glue that holds us all together. It is a thankless job, that is invisible and is absolutely necessary that no one knows about.”