Techies Union enhances, ensures shows


Photo courtesy of trish Torpey

Lauren Spencer, Journal Contributor

Techies Union is Suffolk University’s theatre, technical and design collaborative group that services a variety of performing arts groups and events both on and off campus. The group is made up of the students who do all the performance-enhancing lights, sound effects and stage set-ups.


“[We’re all about] helping the clubs on campus up the professionalism of their shows. So any shows in the C. Walsh [theatre] or down in the Donahue Cafe, we tech those shows and make all the lights and sounds and all of that look really nice,” said Katie Hildreth, president of the club.


Hildreth, along with the group’s external communicator, Trish Torpey, has been a part of the Techies Union since the group started four years ago. Both said that there is a variety of tasks to be done behind the stage of a show, including sound design, lighting design, sound board operator, light board operator, backstage assistants, stage manager, technical coordinator, spot operator, and set painters.


These jobs are performed at most all of the groups and shows to which the Techies Union caters. Some of those events include dance shows, theatrical plays, musicals, shows in Suffolk’s C.Walsh theater, shows in Suffolk’s Donahue Cafeteria, as well as shows put on by clubs at Suffolk.


“We do a lot of club shows, shows for the other clubs on campus for a lot of the student groups,” said Torpey. “We just got a request for Suffolk University Hispanic Association (SUHA)’s Neuestra Cultura. We got 39 requests for shows last year and we did all but four.”


In addition to the SUHA event coming up on October 20, the Techies Union will also be servicing the Suffolk step team show in beginning of November, plus Beats and Treats and African Diaspora.


These clubs, among many others, are very appreciative of the work the Techies Union does for them.


“We have thank you cards from a bunch of different clubs,” said Hildreth. “It’s really difficult for clubs to get up lights and sound and all those types of things because they don’t really know what to do. [They’ll just] turn lights on, while we add an element of design to it. The best shows for us are the dance shows because we can flash lights, we can use the scrollers on the sides to change colors and all that kind of stuff. Even just having a few extra people that know [what’s going on] so things run a little bit smoother. It takes a huge burden off of the clubs because they don’t have to find people to fill the positions themselves.”


“Another thing we do is kind of help them along through the process since we’ve seen [a lot] of these shows, we know how they work,” added Zoe Wells, a one year member of the union. “So if they’re having a hard time at rehearsal and they don’t know how things should be we can give advice to help them along.”


In addition to being a helpful resource for technical theatre on and off campus, the Techies Union has helped its members gain real world experience and opportunities and learn useful skill sets for theatre.


“We do it for fun but we also do it for learning,” Torpey said. “We do it to develop specific skills sets that will help us, mainly the professonality aspects, communication and occasionally design.”


“It gives you a good skill set for working with groups,” added Hildreth. “This is one of those things where you have to do it as a team or it’s not going to work.”


Many opportunities in the outside world also become available through working with the Techies Union.


“We get opportunities to work on shows that are actual professional shows that are not Suffolk affiliated,” said Torpey. “Right now, Katie Hildreth and I are two of the techies for All the Single Ladies out of the Improv Asylum. Katie and one of our past members [also] did an internship with Ice Chips which is a professional figure skating show.


“Now that the group has been around for a while we’re getting contacts outside of Suffolk and being able to pass on those types of internships and opportunities, which is good because theater is a very recommendation-based job market,” said Hildreth.


The Techies Union encourages any interested Suffolk students to join their group.


“We’re very accepting of anyone who wants to join,” said Torpey. “We’re also very teaching oriented. Anybody, even if they don’t have experience, we want them to come and to learn. It’s a good skill set to have because it teaches you to think on your feet.”


The club also runs workshops and often brings in professionals to teach new skills. They meet in Donahue 308 at 5 p.m.on Mondays. Interested students are welcome any time.