Behind the Scenes: How Tech Theater Prepares for the Fall Play

Behind the Scenes: How Tech Theater Prepares for the Fall Play

Maya Shabtai/The Riverdale Review  The tech theater classroom, where students learn the basics of tech theater,

Maya Shabtai/The Riverdale Review
The tech theater classroom, where students learn the basics of tech theater,

Many of us have seen some of Riverdale’s amazing theatrical productions. We also know about the hours of rehearsal dedicated to preparing for the play. What you may not know about is how the tech theater students, also known as ‘techies,’ prepare for a Riverdale production.

Before rehearsals start, the lights on the stage and in the theater (we call it ‘the house’) are refocused or replaced. My tech theater class also receives a set design from Ms. Sarah Schetter, the tech theater teacher, a few days before rehearsals start that we use to build the set. Tech theater students and Ms. Schetter will come in during frees, class time, after school, and even on weekends to build the set for an upcoming production.

Screw guns, nail guns, jig saws, circular saws, and chop saws are some of the many tools used to build the set. After the set is built, we dedicate even more hours to painting it. While the paint dries, lamps are shifted, rehung, rewired, taken down, and patched for the sake of light design. Lastly, we clean up whatever is left on stage and prepare for a show.

Even though the acting on-stage is completely rehearsed, backstage activities are often hectic. Stagehands often have to improvise solutions to a plethora of last minute problems, such as finding and delivering props to actors.

Maya Shabtai/The Riverdale Review  A student holding a box of scraps and tools used by the tech theater students in order to build the set of the “Radium Girls”

Maya Shabtai/The Riverdale Review
A student holding a box of scraps and tools used by the tech theater students in order to build the set of the “Radium Girls”

On show night, the tech crew arrives about an hour before the beginning of the show to make sure that everything is in order, such as microphones, props, the set, and lights. As soon as the theater doors open, the crew must disappear. Some members of the crew, who run the sounds and lights, go to the booth in the back of the theater. Others will go backstage and put on a headset so they can communicate with the rest of the crew during the show.

I’m normally a stage hand, which requires me to be onstage during performances. A big part of my job is making sure that the actors are ready at the top of the show and that all of their entrances throughout the play run smoothly.

You may be thinking, “Why would one sign up for tech theater at all? It just sounds like a lot of hard, unpaid work.” My response: it is. However, as a three year veteran of tech theater once said, “We do something that has a big impact, such as making sure a play or musical runs smoothly. And you learn a lot.” Although we tech theater students don’t normally receive much recognition for building, painting,prepping for the show, and helping the actors, the show must go on.

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