Monday, February 18th, 2019

USM backstage crew plays an important role

Sam Hill | The Free Press

Posted on October 04, 2014 in Arts & Culture, Theatre
By USM Free Press

Sam Hill | The Free Press

By Elizabeth Friedman

While the audience is dazzled by sparkling costumes, complex lighting and actor antics on stage, some of the most important work happens behind the scenes.

USM Theatre Department produces a minimum of two shows per semester, and the students who work backstage contribute greatly to each theatrical success. A lot of the individuals who are working backstage love what they do, and plan on pursuing stagecraft as a future career.

“On some levels the most important thing about a play is finding the right look, or the right prop that can make the scene come together. This is just as important in comparison to the job of the actors,” said Callie Cox, a junior theatre major.

Sarah Kennedy, a senior theatre major, explained that the things she learned working with show productions have helped her obtain a set of skills that she can use out in the real world.

“I came into this department thinking I wanted to act. Even then I wasn’t trained enough to do that yet. In the future, I will be able to pursue acting, but if that doesn’t work out, I can pursue design, and if that doesn’t work out, I can work backstage,” said Kennedy.

This trend appeared common among the students who participate in the theatre productions. Martin Bodenheimer, a junior theatre major, also explains that before attending USM, he thought he would just pursue acting. Yet what he learned was far beyond his expectations.

“Before college, I had never worked with any stage lighting equipment. Even though I want to pursue acting, I will probably end up working in a lighting shop somewhere. I’d rather work in the theater in some way than not,”said Bodenheimer.

Megan Maguire, a junior theatre major, explained how USM doesn’t make these students choose just one focus, but instead gives them a well-rounded education in all fields of theatre.

“In the real world you’re not always going to be acting, so you will have to take another gig, and having another skill set is so important and essential to getting a career,” said Maguire.

With the pressing concern of job viability in the arts, many students find that the opportunity to gain new skills help them out in the long run.

“My resume is very well-rounded now because of this department. They got me an internship at the Maine State Music Theater,” said Kennedy.

Though most of the students interviewed expressed an original interest in acting, some students found a new love for working backstage that has allowed them to broaden their horizons in the working industry.

“Originally I came in thinking I wanted to act. I still love acting, and I still want to do it, but I found a love for doing tech as well that I didn’t know I had before and wouldn’t have if we weren’t required to take everything,” said Cox.

This shift in interest was most often attributed to the faculty, because students believe that the faculty is wholly responsible for allowing USM students to pursue their dreams.

“The faculty here at USM care about us not just as their students. They care about us as humans. They’ll stop and ask how are you, and really want to know the answer,” said Cox.

“All aspects of theatre helps you figure out who you are as a human being, while math and science can help explain it all further. I do what I love, and that is all that matters,” said Kennedy.

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