A Backstage Pass to Grasshopper’s Tech Crew

With a “New York, New York” theme, this year’s Grasshopper Night will be a weekend of passionate talent and entertainment. While the performers on stage are essential to the show, the eleven students working backstage to coordinate everything from lighting to sound and set design are just as crucial. Here’s a look into the people that make production come to life.

Janet Conklin ’17: Stage Manager

Janet Conklin ’17 fills the position of the Stage Manager. She will be sitting in the control room at the back of the theater, calling cues and commands via headset for any lighting, sound, and set changes.

“I stage manage a lot of shows. It’s really my favorite thing about theater. Without lights and without transitions and without all this backstage stuff, a show wouldn’t happen, so being the leader of that and being the person that really makes that happen is really cool,” said Conklin.

While she does not perform on stage, Conklin loves theater and its culture. In this way, tech and stage-managing is her favorite way to get involved in it.

“It’s a pretty stressful job, so I think that stress brings everyone together. Everyone’s really understanding. People pick up each other’s slack without complaining about it. Everyone gets really really close. Everyone’s in a groove where we just get the show together and we run it,” said Conklin.

Katharine Wang ’19 and Iris Zheng ’18: Assistant Stage Managers

This year, Iris Zheng ’18 and Katharine Wang ’19 fill the positions of Assistant Stage Managers. They primarily direct performers backstage, work with the stagehands, and report back to the Stage Manager.

“I’ve never done [assistant stage managing] before, so right now, [I enjoy] the novelty of it. I’m really enjoying getting to learn something new in a different area of tech because mostly I operate light which is what [Cecelia Egler ’19’s] doing,” said Wang.

In contrast, Zheng has little experience in theater tech at Andover besides directing a DramaLab but is looking forward to growing her knowledge as an assistant Stage Manager.

“Knowing that you’re helping putting everything together, finalize everything, obviously no one’s going to see us, but knowing that we’re the part that makes the show function is rewarding,” said Zheng.

Hannah Beaudoin ’17, Zach Ruffin ’17, Kalina Ko ’17, and Hannah Berkowitz ’17: Dance, Music, and Theater Directors

Hannah Beaudoin ’17 and Zach Ruffin ’17, Dance Directors, Kalina Ko ’17, Music Director, and Hannah Berkowitz ’17, Theater Director, all work with the performers to ensure the highest quality show possible.

“I just help anywhere I can really. We just share choreography for groups, making sure everything is staged right and just helping out in any way we can. We all share the work,” said Ruffin.

Berkowitz prizes working with all members of the tech crew and all the performers.

“If you’re in the show, you’re a very talented person, and everybody who is on the head team like Hannah Beaudoin, Zach Ruffin, Kalina Ko, and Janet are all just extremely competent, kind, and fun people to be around. Everyone just makes things easier because this is an incredibly stressful thing to do because there are just a lot of moving parts you need to get to work together in a very short amount of time, but the people you get to work with make it easier, these people specifically,” said Berkowitz.

Editor’s Note: Kalina Ko ’17 is an Arts and Leisure Editor for The Phillipian.

Cecelia Egler ’19: Lighting Designer and Light Board Operator

As the Light Board Operator and Lighting Designer, Cecelia Egler ’19 is in charge of designing the lighting of each act and managing the lighting cues in the show. During the show, she will be managing the lights next to Conklin, the Stage Manager.

“It’s nice to be able to see the show come together. Everything’s so chaotic, but by the end of the week, it all turns out really nice, and it’s nice to see that happen,” said Egler.

According to Egler, the numerous hours of work have helped the other members of the tech crew and her bond as a team.

“We’re a really good team. During the week, we learn how to work with each other, and it’s really nice to have that connection where we all know what’s going on,” said Egler.

Kabir Nagral ’19: Sound Board Operator

Kabir Nagral ’19 will fill the position of Sound Board Operator. He will be working on the sound board during the show, playing recorded tracks, and turning each mic on and off.

“Everything is live, so it’s all in the moment, so it’s an adrenaline rush. [Tech] can make or break a performance, so the pressure serves as like a high,” said Nagral.

Nagral believes that the backstage work is integral in any theatre production.

“I’m not that big of a performer, but I like making stuff feel better for the audience than it already is. There’s lots of stuff that goes behind [the scenes] that makes a production be what it is to the audience, which is a lot more than just the artists or just the performers,” said Nagral.

Sasha Carnes ’19 and Safi Zenger ’20: Stagehands

Sasha Carnes ’19 and Safi Zenger ’20 are Stagehands in this year’s show. They will be working backstage to make every transition between acts as seamless as possible, bringing on and taking off props like instruments, microphones, and music stands.

“You get to see the show from a different perspective [as a stagehand]. So being a light board operator and that sort of thing, you see it as it’s supposed to be seen, but from the side. You get to see more and more intricacies,” said Carnes.

Zenger, who has no previous experience doing tech, enjoys being able to observe all the work that happens backstage.

“It’s different because usually I perform. I’m a dancer, and so it’s really cool to get a perspective on the people that actually make it happen,” said Zenger.