Behind the Curtain
Did you know? St. Michael's is one of the only east coast schools to offer stagecraft as a middle school class. Lead by Ellyn Eaves-Hileman, the Stagecraft supports all SMCDS theatre performances; from costume design to set construction, these students learn painting techniques and building skills, taking ownership of what they are building. During the show, they are the behind the scenes techs, responsible for running the lights, sound, and set changes. The class is designed to teach students how to turn a vision into a reality; learning to be hands on, that it is OK to make mistakes, and focusing on how they can learn from something that isn't working with the production.
As part of the "hands-on" experience, the Stagecraft class took a trip to the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC), where the cast and crew of Les Miserables is beginning prep work for their upcoming show in Providence. Dani Taylor is the Head Carpenter on the national tour and a friend of Mrs. Huth. Ellyn and Dani agreed that it would be hugely beneficial for the students to see what they do in class on a larger stage.
Dani came to school on Monday and spoke with the stagecraft students about her job and how she became involved in technical theatre. She is a graduate of Rhode Island College and after an internship with Theatre by the Sea as a techie, she realized that this was the career she wanted to pursue. She has worked on many national touring companies and loves her job. The PPAC tour gave the students a backstage glimpse into how a professional theatre works. THey enjoyed seeing the backstage quick change area which had many of the wonderful costumes and wigs.
We saw the backstage work stations for the stage manager and other technicians. The students especially enjoyed seeing how large set pieces move on stage using tracks imbedded into the stage floor. This was a special experience for these kids as most people never get a chance to see Behind the Scenes of a professional theatre. It also showed them a real-life application of their class. Perhaps we have some future theatre technicians in our school!