Technical Theater Students Help Construct an Amusing Comedy


Brandon Foschetti

A Tech Theater student shows other students how to replace batteries in a wireless microphone.

Woodbridge High Theatre Department is performing a quirky play, ٍٍRoom Service, on Nov. 17 through 19, where actors get a chance to show off their comedic talents through their execution and timing. Many comedies, regardless of where it is set, have backgrounds, props and random doors that have no purpose to help actors better showcase their comedic skills. Any type of props, sets and costumes used need to be made, and the people who make those spend their time out of school planning and arranging to make the show possible. This group of highly dedicated students makes up the technical theater class. 

If you were to step backstage, you would be faced with several groups of people rushing back and forth, bringing new sets, costumes and materials to make this production possible. There is a significant amount of work that goes into the making of this production. Before being able to start on any sort of planning, there need to be groups assigned in order to take on the multitudes of tasks that come with being backstage. There are set designers, lighting directors, costume makers, sound designers and much more. “[We] usually apply [for a job], we say why we want it, why we think we should be picked,” junior Chloe Allison said.

Since the play only has one background throughout its entirety, the set design crew is working extra hard to brainstorm ideas on how to build a versatile set that would match the script in order to make it easier for the actors to interact with what is given to them. 

Additionally, the crew needs to understand the different scenes the actors are performing in order to build appropriate props that are suitable for each scene. This means they have to think both about the actors and a way to make the design attractive for the audience, which gives them more limitations on what they can build. Luckily they do not need to make a large number of props and sets for every scene, which allows them to focus more on certain parts of the scenery. For example, in Room Service, tech theater students focused on making the phone that stands in the center of the stage because that is the phone each character gets the opportunity to say they want room service. That is also ironically the name of the play, which plays into the joke. 

Not every part of technical theater has many different stages in order to be accomplished. It can be very fast paced, especially on the fly elements such as lighting.

Tech Theater students go into the prop room looking for props and ideas for the Fall Play.
(Brandon Foschetti)

 “A lot of lighting is on the go, where [everyone working on the show would] run the scene and as they run the scene [the lighting directors are] just programming as fast as [they] can. While they were running through scenes or running through full acts, it was me and my lighting designer just constantly programming at once,” junior Kai Li said. Constantly working under pressure is extremely stressful, but in Li’s case, it’s almost a routine.

The changes have to be very intentional since the play is set in one location throughout its entirety, a hotel room.

“It’s two hours of sitting in one hotel room, and you have to find a way to keep the lighting realistic as well as interesting. If you just keep looking at the same white fluorescent light for two hours you’re going to get bored eventually. So it’s super small changes, like a splash of green to emphasize the shadows or a bit of blue that enhances the mood of the scene that really pushes it forward. But it’s hard since it’s a realistic one-room scene,” Li said.

This realistic one-room scene is not small: “We’re building a whole set that’s 50 feet and then like eight feet in the air,” junior Michelle Goziker said. 

Some would think that because the set takes up the entire stage, it would make it more complicated. However, the technical theater class sees this as a welcome challenge. It leaves room for a lot of fun components that help to enhance the comedic parts of the play. A popular prop amongst the technical crew is a taxidermy moose head that is set right at the center, and it is the butt of the majority of jokes made by one of the main characters, Harry Binion. Since this moose is set straight in the center of the hotel room, set designers and lighting directors can have a bit of fun by customizing the head by attaching horns to it and drawing attention to the moose with the nuanced changes in the mood lighting. Although a lot of serious components are put into making a play possible, not all parts of technical theater need to be stoic. After all, it is a group of students and friends working together.

Students in the costume department look for unique items that would match best with the theme of the play and the character’s identity.
(Brandon Foschetti)

Technical theater is a group effort, where each role is dependent on the other. If one group does not properly do their job, it affects all the other groups. “A lot of lighting is based off of the scenery. I feel like without scenery I can’t really do my job as efficiently because scenery is what puts a physical thing onto the stage and teleports the audience into that moment of the play. I can’t emphasize the mood or emphasize the realism of this play as strongly without scenery, [rather] if it were to be a blank stage,” Li said. 

Balancing each student’s role with one another is not the only challenge. Given the amount of effort put in, it is fair to be frustrated when the students feel that they do not receive much attention. “With any show, it’s sort of an emotional component working with tech, because we do a lot of the work [backstage], but we don’t really get [much] recognition. For example, we don’t get to come out for the bows,” said Goziker.

Being able to recognize the amount of hard work that makes this all come true can make your experience watching Room Service feel a bit more magical. If you know someone who is working on the production, compliment their work and send a positive message to the technical theater crew.