Actors may get the limelight, but with without dedicated stage, lighting, costume, and makeup crews they would look pretty silly. The core of Marin Summer Theater is the technical crews of students that build, paint, light, amplify, dress and make-up three complete productions in six weeks.
According to artistic director Patrick Nims, “The crew’s job is to create the world of the show without being noticed or calling attention to themselves. It is the art of making the difficult look simple. Without the crews our shows be a very different experience.”
So why would a person labor for hundreds of hours when someone else gets the applause? According to three-year MST scenic designer and San Marin High School Graduate Sam Block, “The show would not be the same without the tech. When the audience is applauding for the show they are applauding for tech also.”Sam got involved in theater tech through the San Marin music department. As a freshman she wanted to take an art class but could not because of a schedule conflict. In San Marin’s Musical Theater Workshop she found a bigger canvas and a focus for her talent. “I like creating art as part of the larger show. Everything has to have a purpose and connection to the story. The style, period, and music all come into play. Designing and painting within the context of the show gives me a framework.” West Side Story will be Sam’s ninth MST production. She will be attending UC Davis in the fall to study Human Development but hopes to continue with visual arts also.
Alaina Collins (also a third-year MST member and a senior at San Marin) enjoys knowing that when she techs a show, she can be the reason that a show goes well. “It is a lot of pressure, but it is a good pressure.” said Alaina. An MST stage manager, Alaina prefers running shows over building them because she gets to work with the actors. “The hours can be long. After a 9am to 10pm day I wonder why I do it, but it is exciting.” Stage crews work hard to get scene changes done as quickly as possible. “We spend hours practicing set changes. One change took over five minutes the first time we did it and we got it down to one and a half minutes by the first performance. Scene changes are as planned as the actors’ movements or a dance.”
MST Lighting Designer Dillon Campbell does theater tech because it is fun. “You get to build stuff, work with lights, electricity, computers, and use cool tools. Even if it is not noticed by the audience, it is there and it makes a difference.” Campbell will be attending Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in the fall to study technical theater. He started teching in his freshman year at San Marin and was quickly drawn to lighting. “Working with the lights, hanging and focusing them is an art form. You get to create with light. What’s cooler than that?” said Campbell. Campbell loves MST. “It is a challenge where you have two weeks to do something that would take two months during the school year.”
Lighting Designer Maggie Regis added “I love to do tech because I like to use my hands and the people are very fun to work with. Tech works just as hard as actors to get the show as amazing as it is.”
“The design team starts work weeks before rehearsals begin and tech works every day the actors are rehearsing or performing.“ said Nims. “Tech is the foundation of every production. An old saying in theater is that a show is only as good as tech allows it to be. In my opinion MST tech not only gives our shows the foundation to be great, but they add the magic that makes them truly astonishing..”
The final offering of the MST 2011 season will be West Side Story on July 28, 29, 30 and 31. A landmark Broadway musical and one of the theatre’s finest accomplishments, West Side Story is Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet transported to modern-day New York City as two young idealistic lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs, the “American” Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Their struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence and prejudice is one of our time’s most innovative, heart-wrenching and relevant musical dramas.
Tickets for all MST performances ($15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors) can be purchased online at MarinSummerTheater.org and at the San Marin High School front office. A limited seating pay-what-you-will preview performance of Once in a Lifetime are will be given on July 14 at 8pm. Performance times for Once In A Lifetime are 8pm on July 5 & 16 and at 2pm on July 17. All performances are at the Emily Gates Student Center at San Marin High School in Novato.