The Arts Experience

At the start of every semester, Middle School Drama Teacher Tim Reagan has his 8th grade students write short reflections about a memorable arts experience.

From Jeremy T. ’20: 

At the beginning of last year I decided to do tech theater for the first time for the play Star Girl. That is all of the technical stuff or “behind the scenes stuff” for a production. At this time, I was the sound and projections manager/operator, and it was a ton of fun. My favorite scene of the play was when the actors were driving. We had a video behind them that stopped exactly at the time their “car” stopped and then started again when they started “driving” again. It really looked like they were driving.

I also helped with Hairspray, the spring musical. I got to use the spotlight, which was a lot of fun. To get to where the spotlights are, you have to go through the catwalks of the auditorium ceiling. Most people don’t even know they are there. Chris and I had it all set up. We had those camping chairs where you sit on the ground and lots of pillows. I had a pillow under each leg. We also had a charging station set up for our multiple devices. I even brought my mini fridge.

After the productions are over, I always feel very proud of myself and of my fellow techies. We all work really hard. We do everything from painting and repainting the stage with much cross-hatching to all the sound and video stuff.

This experience has affected my life in many ways. It has affected my way of living because my schedule is different and I have less time to do homework. It also affects my living at home, like I now am essentially the master of lights in our house. Anywhere I go, I look at things differently. I notice when lights aren’t placed right, or if a certain light is a good light. I definitely care about things like light placement and sound differently than I probably would if I didn’t do tech.

From Chris W. ’20:

My memorable arts experience is the first time I did spotlights for a production. Although I had previously operated the follow spots for the Faculty Follies, the first time I operated them for a long period of time was for the Middle School musical. This production was called Hairspray. It’s about a girl who fights racial injustice to live her dream. The follow spots enhanced the many songs, dances, and various scenes. This production was the first time Gil Thomson, Upper School technical director, had implemented the spotlights heavily in a performance. Follow spots offer a versatility to controlling light that regular stage lights cannot. In this performance, there were many scenes of people moving across stage—this was one of the reasons why the spotlights were used so much.

During the performance when the spotlights were turned on, it was an incredible experience. I went into tunnel vision every time because of the level of focus I had. I tuned out everyone on the headset and did not see anyone except the person I was targeting. Afterward, when I lay on the stash of pillows and started to relax, there was a sense of achievement.

Looking back on those performances, I would say that operating the spotlights was my peak in the year for the performing arts. It was the best job I had all year as well as the most fun. I had looked forward to being a follow spot operator all year and was not disappointed by the experience. I would attribute most of the eagerness and excitement of tech crew to these four days when I was doing follow spots for the spring musical.

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