Stage crew builds wonderful worlds

Stage crew has a wide variety of responsibilities and works on every play
Stage crew has a wide variety of responsibilities and works on every play
Anthony Addante
How the process begins

The lights dim in the intimate setting of the studio theater as the doors close. The audience waits with anticipation as the actors take center stage. Everything comes together as the opening line is delivered with conviction and circumstance.

All of this would’ve been impossible without weeks of work and preparation and the unsung labor of the stage crew. Every single day after school this tight knit group of individuals works to get productions from mere ideas to the stage in a fascinating process.

It first begins long ahead of opening night with the director and tech director creating the plan for the show. Director Nathaniel Haywood gave his insight into this process.

“The planning part of it takes a pretty decent amount of time before the show starts, at least on the adult side. The director and the tech director will meet far in advance and start working out the tech side of things. Once that’s all settled, the crew will get started on things before actors start rehearsal, so they’ll start building set pieces based on the designs the tech director has created and worked with the director on,” Haywood said.

A key part of producing a show is communication and teamwork
How everything is brought together

The communication between stage crew and the actors is a crucial part of the production. Everything needs to come together in perfect harmony when those doors close to make sure the audience is truly captivated. Sophomore Nathan Hillman explained his role in this process.

“Right now, I’m stage managing the fall play. Which basically means I’m the translator between the director and the actors and the stage crew. Most of my [job] comes in during tech week because I’ll be helping the lights and sounds to know where their cues are and to add in the sound cues,” Hillman said.

The challenges during tech week often come from how limited on time the stage crew and the actors are. Senior Nick Gadomski is a stage crew chief and oversees the whole process. He gave his insight into tech week.

“It is crunch time [and] we cannot dilly dally,” Gadomski said. “If we don’t have the set done, we would want it to ideally be done that Tuesday or Wednesday but is often finished right before the house [opens].”

Director Nathaniel Haywood echoed these sentiments and explained what makes this week particularly challenging.

“It’s certainly an intense and challenging week. We’re in tech week right now and typically rehearsals will go from after school to 9:30 [p.m]. We’re ironing out details, running the show on the set with lights, sounds, props and furniture. Depending on the show there’s scene changes and things are moving and so there’s all of these logistics and lots of timing for moments to be right”

— Nathaniel Haywood

A key part of producing a show is communication and teamwork (Maggie Lukes)
The stage crew puts in many hours painting and building the set.
Stage crew greatly impacts people

The people in stage crew have diverse backgrounds in how they entered the fine arts world. Gadomski explained how he started his stage crew journey.

“Freshman year my sister helped me get involved with the little things the crew was doing. I was the only freshman there because it was hard those days to join a club. I went full force into crew my sophomore year with the new theater and COVID restrictions letting us do theater again,” Gadomski said.

No matter how they got there, the community and connections that are formed create a vibrant community and culture that often leads to great experiences and memories. The bonds created are what makes it so engaging for most.

“During tech for “Laughing Stock” we were staying for tech even though there was nothing for us to do. Some of us ended up playing Blackjack in the basement. I can’t remember much but it was one time we just couldn’t stop laughing and had pure joy around us,” Gadomski said.

However, sometimes these close relationships can make working efficiently somewhat of a challenge. Sophomore Maggie Lukes is also a stage crew chief and shared what she thought was the biggest challenge to the stage crew process.

“Definitely making sure everyone stays on task. It’s always fun to hang out with other people but we do need to focus,” Lukes said.

The stage crew puts in many hours painting and building the set. (Maggie Lukes)
Stage crew creates long-lasting memories

With stage crew being such a tight knit group emotional moments are inevitable. Lukes described one such experience.

“When me and my friend Rowan [both] got called up to share the title of scenic chief it was very emotional.  A couple people cried because the seniors were graduating,” Lukes said.

There are also always surprises within the process where one may be called upon to take up a duty that that they might not expect; even on the night of the show things can change. Hillman described an unexpected experience that he had.

“I was taking a break from stage crew, and I got dragged back into it for the musical. At first, I was just going to sit behind the stage and basically do nothing, and then I got told I had to go up to the spotlight and it was traumatizing because it’s like nine stories high, but it was really fun doing it during the [musical],” Hillman said.

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