Moments from the Tech Booth

In March and April, I worked on our school’s musical production, Shrek JuniorAs I mentioned in an earlier slice, I’m not technically a techie.  However, the techiest teacher in the school was unavailable since his wife was producing the show. Someone had to watch their kids.  So, the job of tech director fell (a long way) to me.  Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed myself, and we didn’t screw up, undoing all of the months of hard work that the actors, set constructors, costume creators, and directors had logged before we got involved.  That had been my major fear…that and embarrassment.

I worked in a tiny booth at the back of the auditorium.  Inside our little room, we had receivers, amplifiers, a sound board, a light board, a computer, two ipads, a sunset gadget, four different remote controls, the charging docks for ten walkie talkies, a cabinet with more batteries than a CVS, four stools, four mic stands, piles of papers, post-its as wallpaper, and five humans.  It was cozy. The five of us got to know each other fairly well.  One difference I noticed between me and kids is that the closer we got to the actual show, the more nervous I became, and the more confident my younger co-workers became.  I was tense.  They were loose…downright cocky.

Exhibit A:  Two days before the show, someone dropped off a little gadget that gives off the light of a sunset.  We had been rehearsing with spotlights, overhead stage lights, four-colored LEDs over the stage, and a starry-night gadget at the front of the auditorium that required operation by remote control from the booth.  It seemed like a lot for the two fifth graders to manage.  I thought the sunset light was cool (actually it was a warm orangey-yellow), but adding another item made me nervous.  I mentioned it somewhat tentatively to the two fifth graders.  “Okay.  We can do that,” they said in unison.

Exhibit B:  On the day before the show we got several new slides that we needed to project onto the back of the stage during several scenes.  This would be another thing for the two “lights guys,” the fifth graders with the “no problem” attitude.  Again, they took the new additions in stride.  “Oh, yeah, we’ll just add ‘em in.  We’re taking turns on the computer.”

Exhibit C:  Fifteen minutes before the Friday night show, I make a reference to a song that I used in a slide show at the end of last year.  Then I apologize because I realize that even though I consider One Direction to be “current” music, the song actually came out when these kids were 3.  

“Oh, no worries,” says the fourth grader who’s working the ipad with all the background music, “I like a lot of old music.”  I snort, imagining what he’s thinking when he  says  “old music.”  “I actually like a lot of 90s music,” he says.  Then he really shocks me.  “Have you ever heard of a band called The Band?”  

“What?!  That’s not 90’s music, that’s like from when I was a kid.”  

He pauses to consider how old this makes me.  Then he asks, “What’s your favorite song of theirs?”  

I tell him that I’ve always like “Ophelia” and “Cripple Creek.”  But then I remember another song I really liked.  “My other favorite is kind of appropriate for today.  Did you ever hear the song ‘Stagefright’?”  

“I love that song!” he shouts.  “We should totally play that right now!  We should be playing pump up music out of the big speakers!  Can I make a playlist right now?!”  I look at my watch.  It’s literally 5 minutes before the show.  

“Uhh, no.  I don’t think we can do that.  If anything, I need some ‘calm down’ music.”   He sighs.  Old people.

Exhibit D:  On the afternoon of the second show, about 30 minutes before the curtains would part, I let slip that it is my mom’s 92nd birthday.  Normally, that wouldn’t be something to keep as a secret, but in this case it might have been wise.  O. (lights boy 1) is a man of action.  His first suggestion is that we all call her and sing to her.  I mention that it’s 30 minutes before the show, and we have some things to get organized.  By this time, though, we’ve been through a dress rehearsal and two shows.  He assures me that we have this down.  “I know,” he says, I’ll make a birthday slide and we can put it on the big screen.”

“Uhh.  I’m not so sure we should be messing with the slides.”

“It’s no big deal.  I’ll make the slide.  Then you can take a picture of it and send it to her.”

“Of course.”

I send the picture to my mom, mentioning that we have two shows that day and that I’ll try to call her between them.

She calls four times during Act 2.

6 thoughts on “Moments from the Tech Booth

  1. The technogap between folks our age and this younger set becomes wider and wider all the time – I notice it too. In fact, my brother and I were talking about this same gap between us and our dad just this past weekend. Dad sells rare books that he has collected all his life, and he normally does this online, but he bought a booth in a festival. My brother asked him how he was going to accept payment from people with cards, and there was a deer in the headlights look. So this is my brother’s newest project – setting Dad up with a card swiper for his phone. The struggle is real, and I applaud you for being the show’s techie. I would have crawled out the door…..and home…..and hidden under the bed until they found someone else. Happy birthday to your mom, and your kiddos sound really sweet and thoughtful. I love their excitement. I also loved “more batteries than a CVS.” Great way to paint the picture.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. She calls 4 times during Act 2…of course she does! Only a momma and her timing. Sounds familiar. Love that the show went well and you now have some serious tech experience. 😉

    Like

  3. Such a great story, start to finish. I love how you stepped in as a substitute techie and learned the ropes, and how all this creativity came together. I used to perform in stage productions many moons ago and directed some small-scale stuff – there’s nothing like a great technical crew!! SO SWEET of that student to think of the birthday slide for your mother- 92! Cause for acknowledgement, indeed. Your conclusion is perfect, her calling four times in Act 2. This is exactly the funny, uplifting, heartwarming kind of story we all need to read more often.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Loved these behind the scene glimpses into the life of a techie. It sounds like you were managing a lot back there. It all went off without a hitch….maybe the confidence is well earned. I think it’s sweet that your crew was willing to sing to your mom.

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