Please Ignore the Man Behind the Curtain: An Insight into Loy Norrix Stage Crew

Glenna Aldag

The auditorium is dark and crowded, many eyes are focused on the events unfolding onstage. No one is paying any attention to the booth at the back from which a barely noticeable light glows. Two people wearing headsets sit in silence in front of a counter with two intimidating control panels. The smell of quickly consumed fast food still emits from the crumpled paper bags between them. The silence is temporarily broken by the utterance of a command. The words of this command seem meaningless to those unfamiliar with what’s going on, yet almost immediately afterward the lights on stage change, indicating that the act has ended.
These people in the booth are members of the Loy Norrix Stage Crew, which currently consists of only two members, seniors Emma Fergusson and Griffin Abbot. This is not a “club” that you sometimes hear announcements for from the drama department, but one that exists even when there is no production in the works.
“We do very different things and it’s important people understand the difference,” said senior Emma Fergusson, when asked about stage crew. This is Emma’s third year in the program.
The scene that was just described is what most people associate with stage crew. The quiet man behind the curtain, silently pushing the show forward. Yet the role of stage crew members is so much more than that.
“It’s important for the upkeep of the auditorium. I don’t know who else would do it,” said Fergusson.
If you were to observe stage crew on a much more average day, you would find them participating in the most mundane of tasks: moving wood, changing light bulbs, sweeping, etc.
“There’s a lot of sitting around, lots of order following, moving heavy things,” said Fergusson.
Yet stage crew offers lots of opportunities to learn new skills, such as set production and lighting, which helps offset the sometimes tedious and repetitive tasks that one performs as a part of the organization.
“I’ve learned a lot of skills that I wouldn’t have learned any other way. Fall-out spot [spot light] is the most interesting, and the most painful skill I’ve learned. I’ve done sound and light board, which I’m kinda bad at,” said Fergusson.
The entire program is designed to allow students to have real hands-on experience in the backstage workings of a show and really be interactive in the workings of the auditorium. Students are partly responsible for the auditoriums upkeep and to set up for the programs that use the space.
These programs include school assemblies, club ceremonies, school concerts, drama productions and productions put on by outside groups that rent the auditorium. The latter of which students actually get paid for. This allows students to experience how a real auditorium runs and what it really means to be on a crew.
Recently though, stage crew membership has decreased dramatically. This has been quite problematic for the group’s efficiency.
“When I first joined there were like, ten people, and now that there’s only two. It seems really unlikely that we’ll get anything done. There’s always something that needs to be done, and we need a lot of people to do it,” said Fergusson.
It is clear that the Loy Norrix stage crew is in somewhat desperate need of able bodies, whether it receives the help it needs remains to be seen.
If you are interested in joining please contact the auditorium director Doug Blickle at [email protected]