Blinding spotlights, fluttering costumes, assorted props and wistful glances into a full house. Acting in a play or production seems so passionate and emphatic from the audience’s perspective.
As a tech member of four years, the tech crew makes a production look graceful on the outside.
But behind the scenes, techies whiz to and fro, rushing to move props and stage decor from one scene to the next. Makeup and hair artists, costume designers and run crew are busily hopping through the backstage area.
I remember my high school days as stage manager. Not only was I the link between the director, tech crew and cast, I was also actively working with the photographer and social media manager.
I couldn’t ever imagine acting instead of doing tech. Although I am naturally an energetic and loud person, I love doing the brunt work in order to help the actors and actresses shine on stage. Besides, acting is not my strong suit — I can only be myself.
When I joined Stage Troupe, an extracurricular theater group here at BU last semester, I only expected to do the invisible work. I was head painter for a show called “Jeff and Geoff.” I met so many other passionate and hilarious individuals in other departments of tech.
One thing I enjoy about tech is the unspoken connection we all have. There’s a feeling of underlying support and understanding as a member of the tech crew. Also, tech is less competitive than cast since we aren’t usually vying for roles.
However, Stage Troupe hosts an annual Tech Show where the “actors tech, the techies act and the audience stays the same.” Lucky for me, I got the opportunity to act since I am usually a tech member.
That is ironic, by the way.
Acting is usually ridiculed as the easy part of theater by many techies. While we are expected to control lights and sound, build homemade sets and complete all other tasks by ourselves, the actors just prance around and conjure up memorized lines like a mandatory Shakespeare recitation in high school.
The beginning of rehearsal for Tech Show was a humbling experience to say the least.
Firstly, I have the memory of a goldfish. Although I only had about ten lines to memorize, I was struggling with it even up to the actual performance. My opinion on actors and actresses changed after that — memorization? Hard.
Secondly, blocking — the positioning of cast members on stage — is difficult. As a former stage manager, I had to note what blocking the director wanted on my copy of the script. However, actually being on stage and having to interact with others who can change their mind at the last second means each run is different. What we rehearse and what we actually do in the real performance could be completely different.
Lastly, it is actually really tiring. I had a costume change early in the script. I had to carry a prop and help others with their props. I had to shuffle quietly behind the pipe and drape between scenes while trying to not forget my last three lines. And this was just a sneak peak of real acting!
I definitely enjoyed my first and last acting stint. Tech is definitely where I belong, but acting in the Tech Show was a highlight of my spring semester. I loved being on the other side of the curtains with fellow techies.
I guess I owe the actors and actresses an apology. Even though I’d argue tech is still more strenuous, their job is quite laborious. Therefore, I will continue to assist, out of the spotlight and in the shadows.