A Glimpse Behind the Curtain with Tech Crew

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The set is still under construction for the upcoming production The Odd Couple. The Tech Crew will work long hours to make sure that the show runs smoothly.

The set is still under construction for the upcoming production The Odd Couple. The Tech Crew will work long hours to make sure that the show runs smoothly.
The set is still under construction for the upcoming production The Odd Couple. The Tech Crew will work long hours to make sure that the show runs smoothly.

By Rachel Komich, Staff Writer

Silence. Joel Freimark dances to Single Ladies by Beyonce. Silence. The curtains open. Lights turn on. The focus shifts to the set. Applause is heard when the directors walk on stage to introduce White and Gold 2009.

Blackout.

The sound of shuffling feet is heard. Music is heard and the Drill Team appears. Another blackout. The Stage Crew sets up the stage while the Lighting Crew prepares the lights.

These intricate transitions could not have been possible if not for the Tech Crew.
For more than 30 years, the BHS Tech Crew has handled lighting, sound, special effects and everything else that occurs behind the scenes for events in the auditorium. Tech Crew is more than your average high school club.

The techies work long hours and deal with unpredictable challenges, especially during tech week. Tech week is a period beginning the Sunday before each play. The techies find out what their jobs are going to be for the production, and run through the show with the actors once or twice, learning cues and making changes. Tech week includes four to six hour practices, sometimes ending later than 11:00 PM, depending on the production.

Joel Freimark, the tech director, was on Tech Crew when he was a student at BHS. When asked why he became the tech crew adviser, he said,  “I have a large amount of experience in professional sound and lighting.  Combined with my overall theatrical experience, it just kind of made sense.”

The students in tech crew must learn about sound, lighting, cues on stage and special effects. The techies learn how to correctly balance spoken and singing vocal to avoid feedback. They also must learn how to appropriately place different types of microphones and speakers for the best possible sound performance.

For White and Gold, they must learn about the acoustic dynamics that work for live bands. The crew learns about lighting design and how to hang the lights at the accurate angle to eliminate shadows and balance different color washes.

In addition to dealing with the technology of a production, Tech Crew also handles props. Learning how to run a well-organized and valuable stage is absolutely necessary, from using props and handling emergency situations (such as an actor missing a cue, a dying mic, etc.) “I try and teach students how to “keep cool” in these high stress situations,” said Freimark.

Tech crew, besides being a school club, is more like a family. “The bonds of Tech Crew are truly lifelong,” said Freimark. Last spring, during the production of Fiddler on the Roof, former members of Tech Crew came to help. “A graduate of the Class of 1996 came in from San Francisco for the entire Tech Week to be a part of the team,” Freimark remembers.

Rachael Silver and Ari Ashpis, both juniors at BHS, have been on Tech Crew since their freshman year.  “It’s pretty cool to know that without a tech crew there probably wouldn’t be a show, or there would be a show, just not with all the technical stuff such as lights and mics,” said Silver.  She explained the camaraderie of the group, “While some of us may normally be friends, others of us aren’t, but in tech crew we’re sort of just one big family. We’re the techies,” said Silver.

“I’d take a bullet for Joel Freimark,” Ashpis joked.