BLOG: Techie, Signing Off – A Reflection of the Fall Showcase

Upfront, the bi-annual student showcase, composed of four short plays, seems very simplistic. The costume changes are minimal in such short plays, and sets are minimalist and monochromatic. The real life of each show comes from the actors and technical effects, which all comes together in tech week. As actors and board operators figure out their cues with the full set, the run crew does not do very much until jobs open up.
If there isn’t enough time for a costume change, or there are not enough available actors to help in a scene change, this is where the run crew fits. This particular job takes an awful lot of patience and organization. Many of my duties did not arise until halfway through tech week. I lasted the first six hours of tech rehearsal without receiving any duties. Without the help during scene changes, the show would increase in length with the number of hiccups, making it impossible to sit through. If the job is done correctly, the audience will never notice you’ve been there at all. Such is the life of a techie.
My duties for this particular show were very straightforward. I stayed on headset for a majority of shows so that I could give cues to the actors for scene changes. Between the first and second shows, one actor had to change characters, which required a full change of costume. During this quick change, I remained backstage and helped him change from one pair of pants, a shirt, and slippers, to a new pair of pants, a button up, a tie, a jacket, gloves, a face mask, and glasses. All of this happened in approximately 30 seconds, while I stayed on headset and prepared to give the cue to the rest of the cast for the scene change occurring during the change. This was probably my most daunting task through the show. Other than this, I moved furniture for multiple scenes and called cues for the remainder of the show.
The task that excited me the least was cleaning up after the performances. The final show of the night left the stage in disarray. There was uncooked pasta dumped on the ground, flour coagulated in water, and breadcrumbs everywhere. I had done cleanup before, with the excessive blood and mulch left behind by the four-hour performance of These Seven Sicknesses fall semester. When I arrived onstage with the broom, many of the cast members joked about the strange familiarity of watching me clean up after the show. This show, however, I was grateful for one thing; the adoring cast and crew offered nightly to help me with this unholy task.
I had signed up for over forty hours of work in the course of this one week, between rehearsals and actual performances. In addition to this, I was often the first to arrive and last to leave the stage. The hair and makeup artist for the show never showed up to perform her duties. I arrived each day an hour before my call time in order to help cast members with their hair and makeup before I had to start performing my pre-show duties. I did not look at this as a daunting task, but rather another duty of mine that allowed the show to go on. If I hadn’t helped with this, part of the director’s image would have been lost, and taking this time from my day helped create what they had dreamed up. Overall, I put in an extra five to seven hours.
The strangest part of the entire experience was Sunday morning, when I picked out my outfit for the day. I had gone through five days of all-black outfits by this point, two tech days and the first three show dates, and I still had an absurd number of choices. Three pairs of black pants, two pairs of black leggings, and more than five plain black shirts – all clean. I started doing tech work when I was just thirteen years old, and ran spotlight for a production in a community theatre. I continued to do tech work primarily until I hit age fifteen and started to be cast in more adult roles. It was strange to throw on my final all-black outfit, not knowing when I would be doing it again.
I don’t know where theatre will take me next. I have a single performance requirement to fulfill for my minor in my last semesters, but other than that, I do not know. I don’t intend to go into theatrical work, though it has always been a great hobby of mine. I do not know if I’ll be involved in productions when I’m out in the real world with a job and a family. I would like to think that I always will, but life oftentimes gets in the way. No matter what, I’ll still have dozens of black pieces in my closet, and I’ll always be ready to return if the theatre calls me back in.
~ Corinne