Between the Scenes

FEATURES: The hidden success of the East Stagecraft program. By Averi Jackson.

If you find yourself walking past the auditorium during 8th period, you likely experience the following: the subtle smell of sawdust, the ringing of a drill, and the yells of teenagers warning each other about blackouts and falling objects. If you walk into one of the classrooms during the hours of  brainstorming, talking, clapping and eruptions of laughter are in constant occurrence. This can only mean one thing — play season is upon us. Stagecraft is working furiously to make sure that the vision of director Matt Murphy and technical director Deborah Voss is met to perfection.

But this 8th period is more than just a class. “Stagecraft is really a family,” said Baz Kouba, senior and head of lights. And that’s no surprise; all techies say it’s anything but unusual to spend five-plus hours after school during the months and weeks prior to performances. They even spend their Saturdays together, usually building and painting sets.

“Stagecraft is really a family.”

This class is comprised of students who have been there for weeks, and those who have been there years, many saying that they intend to stay for the entirety of their high school years, an amount of devotion pretty uncommon in a high school class.

Even in a small class of a little less than 30 students, a multitude of relationships are formed. A succession of family members are no stranger to the class. Lillia Scudamore is the second of her family to be part of stagecraft, her brother Harrison, was the former head of lights. Junior Grace Powers is already the head of paint and is also the second in her family who has joined the class; her brother James was in the class for three years and graduated in 2018. It’s clear that when the class is described as a family, it’s not merely figurative.

Much of the classwork could not be done without the trust of not only Mrs. Voss and Mr. Murphy, but also Mr. Youngquist and the rest of the school administration. Trusting 17-year-olds with electric saws is no easy feat; but stagecraft has reassured admin that they have nothing to fear. Last year, the team built a two-story rotating set, per Murphy’s request. If you didn’t know these kids, or see them work, you would probably be absolutely terrified to be jumping, dancing, and singing on the set, as the actors’ choreography demanded; but actors had tho thing to fret. One stated that they never feared dancing on the set, and instead, stated that it was fun.

All for seven nights of wonder.

If you find yourself next to be in the Black Box a week before the fall play, you experience the following: people running in every direction for band-aids for someone dancing their feet raw or stabbing themselves with a staple. You smell sweat. You can feel the tension in the room as people yell, “Going dark!” or “…start from the beginning!” But what makes this process so amazing to watch isn’t the brilliant lighting and creativity within the sound effects, it’s that every techie and every actor put all they have into this project. The students are willing to do everything to make it perfect, all for seven nights of wonder.

Stagecraft is creative, loud, chaotic, committed, goofy yet mature, and more than anything, hard-working. Every minute devoted to the upcoming play will be on display in its swiftness and ornate detail, just as it’s been in all the years prior. Each year, the class exceeds any and all expectations, no matter how wild they might be. The entire East High School community looks forward to seeing what Murphy, Voss and their whole crew are going to do next.