Tech Crew lights up stage for Alice in Wonderland
It’s a little more complex than, “Lights, camera, action!” Shocker, I’m sure.
Headsets in place, every last button in its proper hole, every light filter fit properly in its slot, tech crew makes sure that everything is up to par. Stage Manager Brandt Goodman stands in the booth above the seats with the sound crew; there’s excitement thrumming in the walls. The Assistant Stage Managers, or ASMs, shift their footing from behind the stage; one covering stage right and the other, stage left. All forms of stage managers have their headsets on, allowing them to communicate with each other. The last of backstage crew scuttles silently through the dark, placing the last piece of the set in place. They give the all clear.
With PRHS’ Drama Department’s opening night of Alicein Wonderland, adapted and written by Anne Coulter Martens in 1965, quickly on the horizon (Dec. 4-13), it’s imperative to acknowledge the people who may not go through hours of rehearsal and line memorization, yet rather go through over 86 hours of careful preparation. The tech crew includes, but is not limited to: Stage Manager, assistant, assistant stage manager(s), light designer, sound designer, sound assistant, backstage crew, robotics/sound team, spotlight crew, costume crew, make-up/hair, ticket manager, usher manager, house manager, and ticket crew. The titles are self explanatory. The bearcats behind the scenes plan every exotic light show, help change every costume, arrange every set, paint every face, fabricate every sound (such as a door closing or a pocket watch ticking), and fix every last problem. Without Backstage, every show would just be “bare and lacking,” said advanced drama student Celeste Geary: “There wouldn’t be very much magic.”
Of course, one could never ever diminish the light that the actors bring to the show, and to life in general. It is assumed that drama kids just want to jump on tables and break into song—High School Musical style. “Drama kids are not shy,” said Geary, “they don’t get embarrassed about doing idiotic things. They like to stand out and they enjoy that.”
Others are less outspoken and rambunctious— not quite jumping on tables and singing show tunes— but definitely are still unique. They complete the show with their cheshire smiles and their voices as loud as the Queen of Heart’s when someone paints her roses red. Though confident and vivacious, five drama students confessed to associating themselves as “wallflowers” due to the observation that they, at times, feel awkward and excluded. And since the kids behind the curtain put the spotlight upon these “wallflowers,” one could call backstage bearcats wallpowers. They power the show, after all. These teens– the ones who silently move in the dark, the ones who whisper cues into their headsets, the ones who divulge into every miniscule detail of the show—these teens are wallpowers. They light the stage from the shadows; they are the unspoken voice in every act. They are the ones who set the stage for the shows so the actors don’t actually “break a leg” up there.
Senior class president, stage manager, and overall overachiever Brandt Goodman described just what it is like to be part of the backstage crew: “It is very exciting when the show is going on; it’s a lot of work but we all love to do it.” He said that after school work begins this month (Nov) and lasts roughly four hours every weeknight for two weeks. “We work very hard and are all committed,” said Goodman. The week of opening night is what the tech crew call “tech week.” This is where the stage manager, assistant stage manager, light technicians, sound designers, and everyone else stay for six to seven hours Monday through Thursday to make the final preparations for their Friday premiere. Many question who would even want to be a part of backstage; who wouldn’t want to be in the spotlight? Backstage crew member Maricela Garcia Serrano explained just why. “A lot of backstage and other tech crew people want to be a part of the show, but they don’t feel comfortable on the stage,” said Garcia Serrano. Although drama kids are the heart of theperformances, tech crew brings the “magic,” as Geary put it. The tech crew to the actors is as the Sun is to flowers. Flowers need light to grow, to look beautiful. Without the backstage and tech crew working their tails off, the stage would be unlit, the Queen of Hearts would be beheading the wrong card soldier, and for all we know, Alice could accidentally fall into a mole hole.
Senior Isabella Marziello plays a childhood favorite this December
Isabella Marziello is gearing up for the December production Alice In Wonderland along with the rest of the PRHS drama department. Marziello has been acting since she was very young and was in her first show freshman year. Four years later she is nearing her seventh PRHS show, “I hope that everything runs smoothly, we actors have fun with it, and I hope the audience has fun.” Marziello has jumped down the rabbit hole and into her character, Alice, with hours of practice this fall. “I’m doing all I can. I’m memorizing my lines and blocking and really trying to understand what she does and says the things she does,” Marziello said. Alice has been a prominent figure in her childhood and she is “really excited to be playing Alice.” Performances are December 5, 6, 11, 12 at 7:30 PM and December 7, 13 at 2:00 PM in the Paso Robles High School Performing Arts Center.