The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

A Weekend at State with ‘Pippin!’ Tech Crew

Sophia Holobaugh
Senior Sam Bock, techie and Drama Club historian, reloads spare boards into a trailer after the Jan. 12 performance of “Pippin!” at Illinois State University.

Drama Club’s fall musical “Pippin!” recently took a trip to the Illinois High School Theatre Festival, where about one-fourth of high school theater programs in the state pack up their productions and meet for a weekend to showcase their creative endeavors.

Working behind the scenes throughout the weekend was EHS’s tech crew: a team of students dedicated to the lights, sounds and sets that made the IHSTF performance of “Pippin!” on Jan. 12 the “best run yet,” according to senior stage manager Aurora Wilke.

It began with full dress rehearsals on Jan. 8 and 9, before a day to pack up the show on the tenth. The entire production had to be moved to Illinois State University for the festival. 

“The adult leaders and I made a checklist of things we needed to put our set together,” Wilke said. “Also, while we were disassembling the set [at EHS], we made a list of items used that we would then need to rebuild.”

Sophomore Teddy Rayman, a stagehand, builder and painter, said this process was “extremely stressful with so many people around,” especially because the crew had to pack everything in only two hours.

“The packing process for me was generally helping with the big stuff, like the three giant stage platforms and the giant projection screens attached to them,” Rayman said.

Simultaneously, senior Gavin Guttman, who runs the projections for “Pippin!,” was packing all his wires, and junior Luke Slater, the assistant stage manager for stage right, was helping direct the truck loading.

Slater said the load-in was “crazy, hectic and chaotic with a ring of order throughout.” It was a “middleman moment” for him as he communicated what needed to be loaded next, how to lift it into the truck and where to put it once inside.

The next day, the cast and crew drove to their hotel and briefly settled into their rooms, before heading to ISU’s Center for the Performing Arts for one last rehearsal.

“The rehearsal at the CPA was very short … we had three hours to put up our set and rehearse. That is not a lot,” Wilke said. “I was thinking about all the different pieces of our show: the actors, tech, the set, props, everything. I was thinking about anything I needed to do before we could perform for this audience.”

Slater said rebuilding everything at the CPA was stressful, but the actual rehearsal was a “wind down” for him.

“I [could] just stand and call cues for a second,” Slater said. “The only [things] that went through my brain was ‘prepare my techies for being flexible’ and ‘this show is going to go the best it can be with me here.’”

The next morning, everyone woke up at 5:30 a.m. to eat breakfast, drive to the theater and do a final mic check before their 9 a.m. performance.

Wilke was sad that it was the last time she would work on “Pippin!” and both nervous and excited when she saw a full house waiting to see the show.

“It is the biggest rush. The nerves came from the thought of the audience members,” she said. “The seats were filled with fellow theater kids who [would] really appreciate all the work that goes in. I wanted to give them a good show.”

Rayman, on the other hand, said he was not nervous at all, though he could “feel the actors and their emotions emanating.” The cast and crew had performed “Pippin!” so many times that he “did not see a way [they] could mess up.”

But there was one major accident with Guttmann’s projections.

“Right at the end, another techie tripped on a power cord and unplugged one of the projectors,” Guttmann said. “This caused the whole system to start mirroring my display, showing the audience the wrong thing. Luckily, that was at the very end.”

And there were smaller mishaps too, but the cast and crew problem-solved on the spot. A prop handoff was missed, so the actors improvised. A headset broke, so Slater called cues through a phone.

“Together we made it work,” Slater said. “Even at the end, when the projector broke, we all just ran out on stage and had a good time, and that’s truly what we were [there] for.”

About the Contributor
Sami McKenney, Opinion Editor
Sami McKenney is a junior, a second-year journalism student, and the opinion editor of The Claw and Tiger Times Online. She is co-president of Creative Arts Club and a member of the Women’s History and Empowerment Club, NFHS, French Club, and the Ethics Bowl team. Outside of school, Sami can be found almost every day at Turning Pointe Academy of Dance, either in classes or in rehearsal for its pre-professional company: Tour Dance. Additionally, she is an avid reader, cat lover, and Taylor Swift enthusiast. She hopes to pursue a career in journalism and is extremely grateful to be part of such a supportive program and capable team of staff members with whom to start her journey!