• Sue Wu

Behind the Rosen Stage

——Keck Auditorium under preparation for the new play


The whole cast takes a curtain call, the curtain falls, and the auditorium lights up. The play just ended, but the works of the technical theater crew are not over yet. To prepare for each play, everyone working behind the stage has to collaborate and make sure things are going smoothly in the theater. Just as in any other project, people take different positions and work together towards a common goal.


However, before the crew goes off to do anything new, they must take some time to clean up the mess left behind from the winter musical in 2019. Keck Auditorium is currently under complete cleaning after one and a half years of collecting dust. Due to the sudden COVID-19 outbreak in the winter of 2019, the crew for the winter musical was forced to leave before they could finish cleaning after the show. The theater tech crew continues to clean out the musical leftovers, the broken and useless props and equipment, and prepare for the fall play.


“We are still trying to figure things out, and the whole space is still a bit messy to do anything else,” commented Katie Cardinalli, the new technical director of the theater. She also told me that the cleaning process could help the technical theater crew get familiar with the space and feel like they own it.


Kate Cardinalli is on the stage, where she is sorting through the accumulated sets, props, and varied accouterments of past theater productions. Photo courtesy: Dale Hinckley.

Up until Friday, September 16, the crew is about halfway done. There is still a long way to go, but they are making small progress so that the school can expect a clean and organized theater for the fall play.


Kate Cardinalli and the Technical Theater crew tried to sort through the device, tools, and instruments on the stage. Photo courtesy: Dale Hinckley.

To make the play work, the technical theater ensemble has to both work individually and collaborate between the groups to make sure the stage will look immaculate on the actual show. For example, the scenic designer will need to talk to the costume designer about how the colors of the costume conflict with the set’s colors, and the lighting designer must collaborate with the sound designer to make sure the lighting and the sounds synergize well with each other. All of the collaboration and work will slowly create an intricate system that eventually contributes to the success of each play.


Although there is still much to do about the cleaning, some progress is being made on the upcoming fall play. The lighting designer Cindy Chen has been looking at the script and trying to figure out how to design the lights: “I am trying to make notes of transitions and mood changes, we are also trying to organize all the resources we have and see what we can work with.” However, the instructions on lighting in the script were confusing: “The first millisecond ten million things happened… the description [in the script] is vague, yet there is a lot going on,” said Cindy. What’s worse, given the length of the script, not many direct instructions were given except “house light on/off.”


A lot more work needs to be done, and the designers need to collaborate to ensure everything will work when they put on the show. When being asked about plans for collaboration, Cindy responded, saying that she would talk to the sound designer Kio to confirm light and sound cues happen together instead of having light or sound happening one second later than the other.


What is described above is only a general sense of what happened in the preparation stage of a play. Minor adjustments are needed to accommodate each play; different positions are assigned to different people. For example, some plays require costume designers while others do not.


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