Behind the Scenes of Southwest Theater: The Techie Life

It’s quite obvious that Southwest has an amazing theater program. There are more student-directed plays at Southwest than any other Minneapolis public schools, and the spring musicals are always a huge hit. But where would these productions be without the techies?? It’s the techies’ job to do a variety of things to make sure the show looks its best. And they work hard too! They cue lights, run the soundboard, make costumes, build the set, take care of props, do hair and makeup, and many other important tasks. Without techies, the show would be dry and boring, instead of put-together and exciting.

When I say that techies work hard, I’m speaking from experience. I started helping out with lights as a sophomore. That first year, I did lights for 42nd Street, and all I had to do was listen to a senior say the magic word “Go”, and I would push a button with the word (you guessed it) “Go” on it. I showed up for 42nd street the last week before opening night and then the days that the production ran on. The next year, I got way more involved in plays and started actually manually running the lightboard in the Black Box. I would come for all of tech week, from three until nine, and push the light dimmers up and down, up and down. It was time-consuming but I really enjoyed it and I got to hang out with all of the actors. In Les Mis, I became the person that told the other person to “Go”; a promotion, if you please. Now this year, I’ve done lights for two Black Box plays, stage managed Runaways and am now stage managing Hairspray.

Doing tech is not only fun, but it also counts towards artistic hours for CAS! For those of you considering the IB Diploma or medallion who, like me, can’t dance, act, or sing, teching is the way to go. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to do anything tech-related, because there’s always staff that can assist you. David Premack, the light coordinator, Jack Harness, the set builder, and Tory Quiggle, the costume designer, are always willing to help out new potential techies.

Natalie Briggs, an active fellow techie, says “It’s a fun way to get involved in theater for those of us that are a bit too shy to be on stage.” Natalie also stage manages and worked backstage during her earlier years of helping out with productions.

The techie life is filled with lots of benefits that actors don’t even get. First, they get to watch a free show every night of the week. Second, some shows allow techies to get free refreshments for all of their work. Lastly, techies get an automatic invite to cast parties. If that’s not enough to make you want to drop everything and join the techies of Southwest High School, then I don’t know what is!

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