Getting Technical

Griffin Orlich, A&E Editor

Stagecraft  is a great way for students who are interested in working “behind the scenes” to become part of the drama program. Stagecraft I and II are both classes offered at SJHHS that allow students to design and build stages for school plays.

The two levels of Stagecraft start with Stagecraft 1. In this class, students learn about the history of theatre and theater design. Drama and Stagecraft teacher, Sheila Silver said, “We learn all about the technical aspects of theater. Technical elements, building, lighting a show, costumes, makeup, sound, every aspect of the technical part of theater.” Stagecraft I is more about the concept – not the actual building of theatre sets and design.

The first 10 weeks are dedicated to theatre history, going back to Greek, Medieval and Renaissance plays and learning how to design for each of those periods. “Theatre is 6,000 years old. We carry those traditions with us. This class is about history, social change, even math (angles, etc.) are all important components to learning this skill,” said Silver.

After the first year, students are ready to move on to Stagecraft II, which involves a more hands-on approach to theatre. Building sets can take several weeks, depending on the scope of the play. “Theatre is all about deadlines. A straight play is a 6-week build. Musicals are more likely 10 weeks. It is a huge puzzle and everyone has different parts.” Said Silver

In Stagecraft II, students put the knowledge they learned previously and apply it to build the stages. “Currently we are working on Broadway Night right now. We’ll be going on tour so we need to build a set that can go on a bus. Rolls are assigned to each person. If I do my job well, then by the time the show opens, I get to sit and enjoy the show because it’s all student-run. I want to empower the kids,” says Silver.

Before students can get started with sets, costume, lighting, makeup, etc.. the Director must first select a play and a concept.  Once the director has a vision, he or she will sit down with the designers and explain their vision to them. The designers must read the play and begin to look up images, get inspirations from other productions. They also have to begin to work on set renderings, measurements, begin building scale models for production as well as costume and lighting design and then make it all happen to life size scale.

SJHHS has been lucky to develop a partnership with Saddleback College. For students who really love the craft, many Community Colleges have fantastic tech theatre programs. According to Silver, “Students can come out of college with their union cards ready to get jobs. One of her former students is the lead Tech Designer at Saddleback, other former students are lighting designers for rock concerts.”

Mrs. Silver is enthusiastic about this program, although she does admit there is a downside to Stagecraft. “The hardest part of Stagecraft is that once the play is over, you tear it all down and it goes away.”