Stage crew in the spotlight


Sophomore Ben Earle, stage crew board member, cuts wooden planks with a circular saw to make the platform for the variety show. Photo by Maya Fridman

Lucy Cho, Maya Fridman, Features Editors

In his first week of stage crew, sophomore Ben Earle accidentally emergency-stopped the pit while it was moving and almost spilled water on the lightboard, nearly getting kicked off stage crew. A year later, Earle is still on stage crew, now as a stage crew board member, and helped work on this year’s variety show.

Earle said stage crew is in charge of everything when putting together a show, from programming lights to setting up different sounds such as the wireless microphones. They also build the sets by hand. Board members are in charge of leading the rest of stage crew by organizing meetings and events as well as teaching other members about how to operate equipment and build sets.

According to Evie Kelly, another stage crew board member, the variety show is unlike other shows because it has a wider range of performances. Since different acts require different setups for lighting and sounds, they cannot have specific setups for every single act in the show.

Stage crew would have started preparing for the variety show right after winter break, but due to a delayed schedule from participating in the Illinois High School Theatre Festival, they did not begin preparing until after finals. As a result, stage crew president Anna Marek said they used weekends to make up for lost time. Stage crew stayed until 10 p.m. on weekdays and around 11 p.m. on weekends during tech week, when they had rehearsals and made finishing touches.

In the early stages of preparing for the variety show, stage crew members met after school to carry wooden planks more than double their height from the loading dock. After around 40 minutes of moving the planks, they started cutting the wood with a circular saw to make pieces for the set.

According to Marek, stage crew members are allowed to do everything themselves as long as they get trained by technical director Joel Monaghan. To use machinery, like the circular saw, students have to be shop-trained by learning how to use the equipment properly and passing a short written test. To go up on the catwalk, students have to be fall-trained by practicing how to clip themselves into a harness and walking back and forth on the catwalk.

Kelly said she has had a variety of training, enabling her to use different machinery and go on the catwalk.

“For example, I’m fall-trained, which means [I] get to go up on the catwalk with the harnesses and use a spotlight and fix the lights up there,” said Kelly. “[I] can go up to the sides where it also is dangerous because we have to climb ladders.”

According to Kelly, one of her favorite things about stage crew is the hard work and collaboration that goes into a production, as well as seeing the audience enjoy the show.

“That’s the most rewarding part,” said Kelly. “When the production all comes together and you know it’s because of the crew.”