The curtain sweeps open. Lights come to life. There, in the stage, the actors begin to live up their roles. Here, behind, the true action awaits to run right. There is more to what the audience sees than the actors on the stage. Stimulating plays never comes to life without the keen and careful actions of the backstage crew. Yes, the backstage crew works as hard as the actors to make each performance beyond great. Behind those curtains are the hidden actions that turn the live story to life. Last November 3rd, 4th, and 5th, the Theatre Department released Anatomy Of Gray, a play by Jim Leonard. Junior Megan Steinhammer, the sound and lights director, and Senior Morgan Oaks, the stage and props director, speak volumes on the life behind the stage. All the management they do throughout the rehearsals and the actual play weren’t learned from theatre classes, but attained through a series of trial and error. “It’s kind of a jump into the deep end and a hope-you-know-how-to-swim kind of process,” said Oaks. Inevitably, chaos and stress take part in every rehearsal so they do their best to be on top of their game. “The more organized you are [during the rehearsals], the easier it will be during the performance,” said Steinhammer. Each of them have their own management responsibilities. Steinhammer stays up in the booth and does light cues and sound cues during the actual performance. She also calls the curtain and pre-show announcements during rehearsal. “I write down blocking and notes that have to relate to the technicians and the crew heads then I just keep a schedule and make sure we are moving along,” she explained. Oaks on the other hand assures that all the actors are in their places with their own props. “I close the curtain, move backstage props, and make sure every actor is ready. It’s a pressure [to be a stage director], when for example, if I hiccup, everyone can see or hear me and it’s like ‘Wow! that is so wrong. Glad there’s an audience there,’” she added. The rehearsal schedules depend on what week it is. For the first five to six weeks, they practice from three to five after school. But as the date comes close to the actual show, they rehearse from three to six or from three to eight after school. On top of all that, they also get loaded up with homework, tests, and projects. “From 1 to 10, our stress level would probably be 13,” Steinhammer commented. But despite of the stress they experience, they are not alone in this backstage game. There are at least 25 to 35 people in the props crew--costume heads, directors, makeup artists, sound techs, and more. And being their leader means that the crew look up to them. “It is important to learn how to be a good leader that people respect, but also not being a dictator,” Oaks remarked. While working backstage, they get a different view on the show unlike anyone in the audience. “You get to see people at their finest as they get into their character and take charge in the moment. It's a totally different perspective from just like sitting out in the audience, because out in the audience you're like ‘Wow this is sick!’ But then when you’re a part of the backstage crew, you get to see all the work that goes into it. Mr Peterson always says that actors are the walking talking props, but without all the backstage operations they would be nothing,” Steinhammer shared.
Story by Reggie Quiming and Elysia Nunez