Twice a year, the M-A Chronicle publishes an article about M-A Drama’s theatre productions, highlighting the talented cast members. But some of the most important people in the running of these shows are often left out and underappreciated: the Tech Crew.
At M-A, tech comes in both the forms of a club and a crew. The Tech Club meets every other Wednesday at lunch on the Performing Arts Center stage. During meetings, club members discuss their tech responsibilities for M-A’s current production, work on promoting their club, and casually hang out while eating lunch together.
The Tech Club president, senior Myla Butzlaff, explained, “Tech Club is a place where anyone interested in learning about theater and stagecraft can come help with M-A’s productions. We are a close-knit community that works together to form beautiful shows.”
Experienced Tech Club members often end up on the Tech Club Board, with special roles and responsibilities to help run the student-led club. Butzlaff said, “As the Tech Club president, I mainly organize all of the club and crew meetings. During the shows, I assign roles to members, communicate with the director, and help train new tech members.” Other roles include vice president, secretary, and freshman outreach.
Tech Club mainly meets at lunch, like any other school club. But it should not be confused with the Tech Crew, which is different. Butzlaff explained, “Tech Club meets exclusively during lunch and is typically less of a time commitment. The Tech Crew, on the other hand, works directly on M-A’s productions through roles like building the set or running lighting and sound.” While most Tech Club members are also part of the Tech Crew, you don’t have to be in one to be in the other. Junior Logan Greenbaum said, “There’s a lot of overlap between Club and Crew, but if you don’t want to run shows or just want to help build sets, just come to the lunch meetings!”
During school-play season, the Tech Crew builds and paints sets after school. During the actual performances, crew members have individual jobs. Tech Crew roles include lights, who run lighting changes; sound, who maintain volume level and prevent microphone feedback; fly-rail, who move the curtains; propmasters, who keep track of and organize props; run-crew, who move set pieces and help backstage; and ushers, who welcome audience members and pass out programs.
Tech Crew members are encouraged to try different jobs during different shows, but many find their favorite and stick to it. Tech Club vice president, junior Maeko Solomon, said, “I’ve done a couple of jobs, like spotlights and ushering, but I’m currently doing fly-rail and so far that’s been my favorite.” Greenbaum added, “I’ve done lights for all three shows I’ve done at M-A. I sometimes help with programming before the show, and during the show I run all the cues so all the lights change smoothly.”
Tech Crew members also have to deal with sudden technical difficulties during performances, like missing props and broken microphone equipment. Despite stressful situations, they are hardworking and dedicated. Solomon said, “I personally find it so enjoyable and I’ve learned so much that I actually want to pursue tech as a career after high school.”
If you are interested in joining M-A’s Tech Club or Crew, follow @mahs_tech on Instagram and show up to a meeting in the PAC every other Wednesday during lunch. Butzlaff said, “There is no prior experience needed to join Tech. We will teach you how to build sets, run lights, and any other roles you might be interested in!” Solomon said, “If you want to be involved with drama but don’t want to be an actor, Tech is definitely going to be your thing.”
Butzlaff concluded, “Working with M-A Drama has been one of my most rewarding experiences in high school. We have created a family that puts in hard work and creates beautiful results.”