So, I was digging around in old journals the other week, trying to find notes from my Directing class at University (Note for all university students: do not write notes in your journals, as much as you think it’s saving space and such, it will not help you). Any road, instead of my University years, I found Junior year… the year I joined stage crew.
Now, let me tell you a little story. Wayne and I go way back to when I was 11. Back in those days, Steffen did an amazing 7th and 8th grade musical where 6th graders could be on stage crew. Naturally, I joined. Wayne ran Steffen’s Stage Crew… yes, imagine Wayne with 11 year olds… very amusing. I digress. At that time, I was already obsessed with lighting and wanted to run lights, Wayne put me on props. My 6th grade stage crew story ends.
But in the years to follow, I would meet him again as an actor on HHS’s stage while performing musicals with a local theatre group… Wayne fondly calls them Lenny’s Plays. Upon entering HHS as a student, I didn’t really interact with Wayne. As a freshman, I do remember being terrified of Fred, who at that point was a giant senior with a beard. I was less so scared of Randy, but he was also a giant and I was very easy to pick on. Junior year started and I basically refused to try out for the fall play, on the grounds that I thought it was going to be stupid (foolish teenaged mind). But I don’t regret my choices. Stage crew was as much a family then as it is now. Somehow a senior couple that was dating at the time adopted me and our dysfunctional family grew. I had an estranged uncle and stepparents… a sibling… probably more, but I can’t remember.
Wayne finally out me on lights! And on my first day in the catwalk, I drop an ETC Source 4 barrel on to the clouds and watch it in slow motion teeter and fall the 60 ft to the audience where it literally evaporated. Ok, so the whole thing didn’t, but the shutters did. POOF! Gone! I can recall the whole event vividly in my mind, it was a Saturday crew session and as soon at I dropped it, I broke into tears. Wayne, who was also up in the catwalk, didn’t know what to do as he kneeled awkwardly in the blue and orange lights as a blonde girl cried because she broke a $500 light. I never lived that down.
But the thing was that it was all in jest. We were a family and we could take as much as we dished out. At the end of the day, we knew we were all apart of some magical world the rest of the school would never truly understand.
Another vivid memory I have was that year we hosted Sectionals for One Act and I had to be in the booth to explain lights and sound to other crews. Almost everyone was nice, but one group of boys from some or other school barged into the booth. Ok, I know it’s hard to believe, but I was timid back them. Any road, picture me, but slightly smaller, with bangs and looking like I was 13. Then these huge boys barge in rudely. I think four in total, mouthing off to me about our sound and light board and the spot light. Speaking into the ClearCom, I make one comment about mean guys and within seconds, the whole stage crew (Wayne included) was in or around the booth, looking big and nasty. I must also add, that stage crew in my day always wore black (Trench coat/matrix style), carried around Leatherman tools and trained themselves to be able to take the blade tool out in 5 seconds with one hand… they were terrifying. Needless to say, the other school shut there mouths and ran away after their show (Which I think was a terrible version of Art).
There are many things that have changed over the years in Stage Crew, but the heart of the family is still there and that is all that matters. And personally, I think it’s changed for the better.