Peek Behind the Curtain at Tech Crew


Bridget Nelis

Tech Crew builds all of the sets for the musicals and plays backstage.

Tyler Moore, Staff Writer

North’s musicals and plays are among the many events run by the Tech Crew throughout the school year. Tech is involved in designing and building sets and running the theater performances of the school.

Tech is currently preparing for the spring musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” which will be performed April 21, 22, 23, and 24. Leading up to a play or musical, the production team of Tech Crew organizes how the play is going to be run. 

“Usually the week after a show is cast, I put together a production team of those that are interested to get us to the tech week,” said Joseph Pietrie, adviser for tech crew. “The production team makes decisions on what’s going to happen, gets the materials that they need to make it happen and then trains the people on how to do their particular jobs.”

The production team includes a wide variety of jobs to fulfill the needs of the performance. These roles include student tech director, sound design, light design and publicity.

The members of Tech Crew working these positions are tasked with bringing the play to life.

“The production positions are who design the tones in the story,” said Brian Zuckerman, freshman. “Maybe [in the scene] it’s a gloomy day so we decide to use dirty lights and make it look like it’s raining.”

Members of the production team make decisions on different aspects of the performance and its set, such as what lighting and sound effects will be used, what different parts of the set will look like, and what props will be in the play.

“In the last play I was in charge of certain sections since I was the student technical director,” said Harriet Ensenberger, sophomore. “I had some freedom in saying how things got done and how we decorated things. We have control over what colors we are going to use for a play and what it is going to look like.”

Over time, the production team works together to create a coherent design for the performance.

“We work with the entire production team after knowing the specifics of the set, like what color a house will be, so you can emphasize the colors on the walls and mix in that color,” said Zuckerman.

The decisions made by the production team are applied to the set during builds, where the set is put together leading up to the show. Builds are done two to four times a week, with more builds placed closer to a performance. Some of these set builds are after school and others happen on weekends and other days off. During builds, members of Tech Crew meet in the auditorium and work together to design and create the set.

“We don’t have to go to every single one, but it’s a lot of fun working hard with your friends,” said Julia Merritt, junior.

As a play or musical approaches, a running crew is decided for who is actually going to work the performance. Running crew members have to attend all of the tech week rehearsals and all performances. Running crew usually consists of ten to fifteen people for plays and fifteen to twenty for musicals. There are various jobs these people do, including operating lights and sound, doing make-up for the actors, managing props and sometimes recording.

During the days leading up to a performance, tech crew goes through tech week, in which the running crew practices.

“Tech week is when we start putting all the pieces together,” said Pietrie. “The actors have been rehearsing so now we’re going to add the scenery, the lights, the sound effects, the scene changes, choreographing, who’s doing what, props, stage managers and the cues.”

Members of the production team will aid the running crew in how they should run the performance.

“The designer of each board will teach the operator how to run the particular board or tool,” said Zuckerman. “Here’s how many cues there are, what is special about the light or sound board, any buttons you need, when you should turn mics on.”

During tech week, adjustments are made to fit the upcoming performance.

“We figure out what we need to do with sound and lighting and what we need to change to fit the actor’s needs,” said Merritt. “A big part of tech week is adjusting to the actor’s needs.”

At the end of tech week, the running crew works the performances of the play or musical. After the final performance, the set is taken down by the actors and members of tech crew in a single night.

While the tech crew is known for their work in school plays and musicals, they also help out with many other school events.

“There are actually two different ways that we meet,” said Pietrie. “There is either for plays and musicals or for events.”

There are a wide variety of events that tech crew may take part in, including concerts, college nights and guest speakers.

“Tech crew works every event in some capacity that takes place in the auditorium space,” said Pietrie.

Tech Crew meets every Tuesday in room 133. (Laure Schulders)

Tech crew may also help set up for events outside of the auditorium. This includes helping set up for prom last year and running the upcoming SCN Superstar in the gym.

There are usually two to five Tech Crew members working events, but some events call for more people. Members of tech are paid $13 per hour for working events outside of plays and musicals, however they do not receive pay for running the musicals and plays.

Petrie strives to make members of tech feel that they belong and he believes that working together brings members of tech together.

“We become a family in the sense that we rely on each other, we make relationships with each other, we work long hours with each other, and it becomes a family atmosphere,” said Pietrie.

Tech Crew welcomes new members throughout the year.

“You don’t need any experience,” said Merritt. “Just show up to a meeting or a build and we’ll put you right to work.”

Tech Crew holds weekly informational meetings which are held on Tuesdays in room 133 after school.