Set design lets students be behind the scenes

Stagecraft class let students of all majors explore working behind the scenes in the making of an engaging theater performance.

“We give students hands-on experiences. It’s not the type of thing you can teach in a classroom,” Wayne Steadman, theater teacher, said. “The students find out that the things they thought they couldn’t do, they can do.”

Students saw the world of theater behind the scenes while working in stagecraft, which could vary from cuing actors to measuring a set piece to fit on stage.

“You learn how to make scenery, different kinds of stages, lighting, and sound check. You learn how to control lighting and the different parts of the stage,” Noelle Pride, seventh grade theater major, said. “You learn basically everything that does not include acting on stage, besides costume production.”

Many students knew they would enjoy working with power tools and building set pieces in stagecraft the first day they walked into the class.

“The first day, when I was in sixth grade, my teacher gave us the tour of the [workshop], but I thought it was really cool, looking at all the tools. It looked like something I would be looking forward to for that four weeks that we did it,” Pride said.

Stagecraft not only helped students learn about backstage, but also had many advantages for actors.

“The benefits of taking set design are that if you want a career in acting – which I do – you get to be well-rounded,” Celia Mason, seventh grade theater major, said.

However, stagecraft was not just about making set pieces and creating scenery.

“Many students come in and think they just get to paint and build things. But it’s not just that. It’s cleaning the shop, maintaining the shop, putting the tools away, and setting up for the next production,” Steadman said.

Stagecraft controlled backstage and much more. It was the foundation of a performance.

“[Stagecraft] makes a good performance, because it allows the setting to be created, allows the character feel like they’re more into [the setting], and the lighting allows the mood to change,” Pride said.

Making scenery and set pieces was a group effort. It required teamwork and collaboration.

Mason said, “I think it’s rewarding working with other people. It brings you closer together.”