Emily B.

Now more than ever, we can’t underestimate the power of attending a play. In an era where every show is but a mere three inches from your face, live theatre brings an energy that a TV cannot replace; yet, in all the glitz and glamor, the choruses and pirouettes, it’s easy to forget who the real stars are: people behind the stage. They are the stage managers, costume designers, and lighting and sound technicians. They are the unsung heroes of theatre. 

Technicians do everything from hanging lights from a 50ft scaffolding, to stage managing (aka babysitting) actors during each rehearsal, to making sure everything is running on schedule in all departments. There are so many moving technical aspects of a production that the audience does not even know about. 

Let’s take a portion of sound design for example: Each mic that an actor uses is set to a certain frequency and adjusted to fit that actor's vocal tendencies ie. belting, their projection, certain syllables they enunciate. During the show, there are technicians muting and turning on mics as the actors walk on and off the stage. Often there are multiple actors coming on and leaving at the same time; fingers are flying across the sound boards throughout the entire show. 

What about lighting? Technicians lift awkward, heavy stage-lights up into a walkway in the ceiling, or climb up a scaffolding with it in order for it to be hung. They adjust the angle, focus the lenses, and modify the colors of each spotlight. All the while wearing rubber gloves to prevent the heat of the light fixture from burning themselves.

All of this tedious work, and precise information is so that a show can not only run smoothly, but launch the audience into a story brimming with awe inspiring colors, sound effects that you can physically feel, and props straight out of Hollywood. When we get down to it, the magic of a production is simply impossible without the gravitas of a technician. The audience stands up and applauds the actor who performed a heart wrenching monologue, and sure the actor was talented, but without the technicians that actor would be on an empty stage, naked, in the dark, and unable to be heard.

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