It’s 6 a.m. on a Saturday and while most teenagers might be sleeping, LJCDS students in technical theater are busy cutting plywood, drilling set pieces together and painting doors in preparation for the Upper School musical, Anything Goes, (running March 8–10). In fact, these students have been building the set, mapping out lighting and testing sound for two months, even during the break over President’s Day weekend, free periods, after school and the weekends.
Mike Peveich, technical theater director, believes the students can discover their purpose in this class. “It's something they may not be able to articulate, but I think it’s evident,” he says. “They give it their all, and they do their work without fanfare or applause. Their teachers, peers, and sometimes, even family members don't understand what they're doing on a daily basis to make shows like this happen, and yet, they persist. That to me is purpose, and my goal as an educator is to lead them to find that purpose.”
This particular set design calls for a massive cruise-ship background that is 48’ wide, 9’ tall just to the second level and includes a revolve, a wheeled circular platform that allows for a smooth set change. Once Mr. Peveich researches and studies the script, meets with the director, and makes some sketches of the set, he uses CAD (computer-aided design) software to create precision drawings or technical illustrations. From there, a 3D model is developed and more edits are made, which result in drawings that become the final sketches from which the class starts building the set. After seeing the skills and process needed to design the set, they get to work.
“Technical theater requires innovative solutions to unknown problems...,” shares Mr. Peveich. “I expect my students to be contributors, innovators and problem solvers because these traits will serve them well beyond the theater and their years at LJCDS.”
“I have never been more creatively challenged than when in technical theater,” shares Rachel Weiss ’19. “Not only do I get to exercise my imagination, but I also get to create art that other artists can benefit from and everyone can enjoy. This class has taught me competency, organization and problem-solving. In countless shows, dresses have ripped, doors have broken, or disco balls have fallen. We have seen it all and have had to improvise and be best equipped to solve problems. Quick thinking and problem-solving have definitely been the two most valued skills I have learned from working on shows.”
The performing arts have a place for every student. These students choose the behind-the-scenes role for various reasons.
Dallas Fadul ’21 shares, “I took this class because my sister, who is a great inspiration to me, took theater tech for all four years of high school and absolutely loved it, so I wanted to give it a try. I also really love building things and painting; this seemed like a really great way to better my skills and become a more well-rounded person.”
Devon Jha ’21 chose technical theater in Middle School because he was interested in theater but could never see himself acting. “When I saw the Middle and Upper School musicals, I would observe the students wearing all black and moving the set pieces on and off the stage and decided that’s what I wanted to do. Another part of me also wanted to create things. I like using power tools, and I like art. It has taught me to work with new people, make new friends and make connections. I feel as if these are the most important things students should be taught these days because it is often overlooked in favor of other things.”
Is all their hard work worth it?
Rachel Weiss ’19 shares, “My favorite part is seeing the show come together with crew and actors. Building sets and creating lighting is amazing but, for me, there is nothing like seeing how everything fits together; it's like clockwork. Tech week is absolute craziness. However, as the week progresses, the chaos becomes more purposeful.”The entire LJCDS community is invited to see
Anything Goes Thursday, March 8 at 6:30 p.m., Friday, March 9 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 10 at 2 and 7 p.m. in Four Flowers Theater. The musical is free and no tickets are required.