Behind the scenes, plays come alive

Chris Saad, the technical director and light and sound designer for Theatre St. Thomas, knows the ins and outs of a theatre’s backstage.

Saad is going on his 13th year working lights and sound for St. Thomas University.

He said there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes of a show like TST’s The Importance of Being Earnest, which ran from Jan. 30. to Feb. 2.

“So, imagine seeing an iceberg. When you see the iceberg, you only see the top – that’s the piece the audience sees. The rest that you don’t see is the behind-the-scenes,” Saad said.

Sophia Hébert, a first-year STU student with acting experience, worked behind the scenes for the first time on The Importance of Being Earnest as the assistant stage manager.

“When you’re acting, you don’t have to worry about anything besides remembering your lines and what you’re supposed to do on the stage. But when you’re stage managing, you have to worry about the actors and everything else that goes on in the box. It’s a lot more stressful, in my opinion,” Hébert said.

Costumes, makeup, hair and props helps the onstage performance look polished. (Hannah Rudderham/AQ)

Naomi McGowan was also an assistant stage manager for the show. She’s worked backstage on three TST productions. During The Importance of Being Earnest, McGowan’s job was to keep communication flowing via a headset.

“[The headset] develops a nice trust between everybody and it makes them feel more supported on stage – they know that they have nothing to worry about,” McGowan said.

McGowan, an actor herself, didn’t do much behind-the-scenes work in high school, except for some makeup. Once she got to university, she dove deeper into the backstage life, working for TST’s The Trickster of Seville, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Life of Galileo.

STU student Madison Nadeau knows how much work goes into a show. She helped out with the costumes for The Importance of Being Earnest and made sure everything stayed intact while on stage. She said having volunteers who work the different aspects of a show like costumes, makeup, hair and props helps the onstage performance look polished.

“In high school, I worked with a lot of shows that we didn’t have costumes [for]. They help the audience imagine the characters a little better,” Nadeau said.

Third-year student Tristan Tozer is fully versed in what it takes to work backstage. She was the stage manager for The Importance of Being Earnest.

“It’s a lot of work. Definitely a lot of work. It’s also very rewarding to see the payoff of something that you did yourself working on stage,” Tozer said.

“You’re looking at it and you’re just like ‘I did that, and it’s going great.’”

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