The Unsung Heroes of Theater

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When you think about musicals and plays like Mamma Mia! and Twelfth Night, what comes to mind? Maybe it is the energetic acting or the beautiful singing. However, much of the work that goes on behind the scenes is often underappreciated. Jake Woody (‘24) is a member of the tech crew, the unsung heroes of theater, who creates backdrops, designs sets, and develops props for all Division theater productions.

Jake Woody’s tech crew journey began out of both necessity and tentative interest. “I was looking at the list of arts credits that I needed, and I decided that that one was the most interesting to me. It was something I hadn’t tried before.” Although it was a new experience for Jake, he quickly adjusted and became a key member of the team. 

Jake describes the tech crew work environment as “casual.” Since the majority of the school plays and musicals are now over, he has a lot less to stress about regarding deadlines. “Mrs. McQuade tells us to make something and we go do it. We have a lot of freedom.” Members spend their time cutting wood panels, painting walls, and drilling holes to create beautiful set pieces that complement the actors’ performances. At the same time, members develop bonds and create a strong sense of community within the group.

However, this doesn’t mean that tech crew comes without its respective challenges. Jake describes the stage’s lighting and the rigging system as “complicated” and “insane.” He says that, “There’s so much that goes into a show that it gets really hard to manage sometimes.” Technical complications are not the only obstacle that stands in the tech crew’s way. During a live performance of Twelfth Night, James Coyle (‘23) could not find a ring that his character was supposed to carry, so Jake had to frantically race around backstage looking for it. Eventually, he found a replacement ring, but the original has not been recovered since. The tech crew must always be prepared to adjust to a change in plans and have a “the show must go on” mindset. 

Although not many students truly appreciate the amount of work that goes into tech crew, members of the tech crew are always hard at work. They meet every morning during the PA+ time and have additional meetings when performance dates come near. During “tech week,” the week before a show, the crew remains after school for 3 to 4 hours to prepare for the upcoming theater production. Jake strongly feels that the tech crew’s massive workload is undervalued by the rest of the student body. “Tech crew’s work goes largely unnoticed basically because you’re not focused on us, you’re focused on the actors.” 

Even though a lot of effort and sacrifice goes into being a part of the tech crew, Jake still enjoys how it exposes him to new experiences. He explains that, “I get to see a whole new aspect of what goes on backstage.” Jake will undoubtedly continue to participate in tech crew next year and will become one of its leaders, as no rising seniors are currently enrolled in the class. Jake looks forward to another fun but chaotic year of tech crew.