All the World’s a Stage from the Lighting Booth

Describe a significant extracurricular interest.

An electric current of energy surges through my veins. I want to jump or scream, but all I can do is move my index finger an single inch along the sliding button. The house lights dim as my finger slides the lever downwards. From the lighting booth, I look down on the rapt audience and the stage, humming with anticipatory energy. The show has begun. Running the lighting booth in my role as Technical Director is the final stop in my high school involvement with technical theater. On this, the closing night of our spring musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, I chuckle to myself over the ridiculousness of the situation. A shy, physically small girl with the power to control a show at the touch of a button. But then again, this seemingly diminutive person has a fiery passion inside – a blend of artistic creativity and leadership skills that enable her to add to the show without taking even a single step onto the stage. My love affair with theater began at age ten, in the warm embrace of Boston’s Wayne Theater. The show was Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera. Not only was I enchanted by the haunting music, melodic lyrics, and suspenseful plot, but the mood created onstage transported me to the labyrinthian world of eighteenth-century opera. How magical it would be to be the one in charge of creating such a world, I thought. With this newfound interest in mind, I joined the tech crew in the spring of my freshman year, signing on to my high school’s rendition of Chicago. Although no singing, dancing, or acting was involved, I expressed my creativity through the hard, heavy iron lights, the splintered wood for set building, and the crackly microphones. The dated equipment only enhanced my desire to work. I wanted to test myself, to see how much we could achieve on a shoestring. Chicago was a success, and I returned to do tech work for each subsequent show. Now, as the curtain opens to reveal a stage lit with glorious color and transformed by an effervescent set, I reflect on the work it took to get here: the countless hours spent atop a twenty-five foot ladder adjusting the lights, the tedious programming of the cues into the computers, the aching fingers from cutting gels. All of these tasks – even those that at the time feel menial and meaningless – create remarkable, atmospheric worlds in the confines of a small, dark theater. Regardless of the level of care taken each step of the way, mistakes always seem to pop up during the dress rehearsal. During the dress rehearsal for this show, I noticed that the gobos of the church were too far to the left of the stage. Some of my crew members tempted me with the ever-famous “No one will notice” line, but their efforts were in vain. I don’t arrange lights solely for the audience or the director, but also for myself. I need the satisfaction of knowing that I have given one hundred percent to each and every project that I put my name on. In the lighting booth, I gasp as the curtain rises over the opium den scene. A puff of smoke erupts from the pipe hanging from the actor’s mouth. A harsh, red glow casts a shade of suspicion over the den’s patrons. Although I placed the fog machine myself, and know that the “drug addicts” are in fact seasoned actors, I can suspend my disbelief for a moment and allow myself to indulge in the atmosphere created by theatrical magic.

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