Brimmer and May theatre goers often marvel at the School’s high quality plays and musicals, but what brings the magic together behind the scenes—before the curtain is raised inside the Ruth Corkin Theatre?
Stagecraft, a popular elective first offered by Creative Arts Department Chair Bill obsob in 1998, around the time of the theatre’s construction, introduces students to building sets and props for upper school theatrical productions. During the first few classes, students learn the basics—from operating the headsets backstage to being a deckhand (someone who moves the set around for different scenes during the live performance).
Afterward, the class transfers such skills to making actual sets. Using drills and electric saws, for example, students constructed the platform for the recently performed fall play, Universal Language and Other Comedies. During performance nights, students are also responsible for other technical work, like running the lights and coordinating the sounds system.
“People show their true colors in a stressful situation,” says Jacob, who still teaches the elective. “How you deal with adversity, how you deal with trouble, how you deal with difficulties—that’s what molds your character.”
Jacob says that helping to orchestrate live productions provides real-world opportunities for all types of students to test themselves under pressure.
“Although it was complicated at first, with time and work it got a lot easier and very rewarding,” says Laura Lopez ’19. After that, they get assigned different projects to build set pieces in pairs or individually.
How you deal with adversity, how you deal with trouble, how you deal with difficulties—that’s what molds your character
– Bill Jacob, Stragecraft Teacher
“You get a lot of work and you don’t get bored,” says Mariam Dossayev ’19, a first-year Stagecraft student. “It’s a fun activity,” she says, even with ongoing pressure to get things right.
“Although it was complicated at first, with time and work it got a lot easier. It’s rewarding work,”says Laura Lopez ’19, another first-year Stagecraft student. “While the play was being performed, Stagecraft moved props to-and-from the stage between scenes.
Stagecraft attracts students who are modest and conservative, whereas actors are encouraged to be spontaneous and outgoing; in other words, actors have the freedom to be creative with their characters, but in Stagecraft, students have a defined set of tasks that need to be done a certain way.
Stagecraft students will be equally engaged second semester, as they help prepare and execute the upper school musical.