Friday, October 23, 2009

For All You Would-Be Techies

Choreography Show has come and gone again this year. I was lucky to be in a wonderful piece with a great cast where we reenacted the French Revolution to Coldplay's "Viva la Vida." Pretty badass number--way to go, Aubrey! Anyway, this posting is not about the fabulous dance or really dance at all, but more about my excursions during tech week. 

My fellow MFA students and I had to partake in helping set-up tech for the show as a class assignment. Over several days we did some observing and often times joined helping with what we could. I made the grave mistake to volunteer for a job without first finding out what the job was. Techies, beware. 

To say that heights make me slightly nervous might be an understatement. They make me very nervous. However, during the two days we spent in Kirkpatrick I took several trips up a ladder for different jobs, battling my way through anxiety and sweaty palms. I’m afraid I truly was a “weenie,” so to speak, during one particular job and poor Steve, the lighting designer, had to come up to help me. 

In order to get the right lighting for performances, adjustments have to be made along the way and thus comes my first lighting job: Climb into the lighting coves on either side of the stage, adjust the lights with Steve's trusty wrench per his instruction. Right. OK, no problem--big kid stuff, I was a management major. I can totally do this...I should have known it was trouble when I started climbing up the first ladder and half-way up asked Cassie to hold it incase I toppled into the wells. Oh and Steve forgot to mention that from the ladder to the cove was about a foot of empty space for me to heave myself up into. Have I painted you a pretty picture yet?

 I climbed all the way up the stage left lighting cove and while up there he gave me instructions to lean a ladder up against this wall/shelf, climb up to the top and throw my leg over this wall to adjust a light that was several feet above me (Keep in mind I would be leaning over the lighting instruments a couple stories up...hanging down to the audience seating.).  Looking up wide-eyed to my given task, I about swallowed my tongue and suddenly my body went it fight or flight mode. In the mean time Cassie is below me doubled over laughing as I start flapping my arms repeatedly to keep the perspiration to a minimum. My palms begin sweating profusely so I try wiping them on my pants over and over. Taking some deep breaths praying I don't start crying from sheer terror, I can't help but turn around and face my supervisor with the most pitiful, pleading look. Perhaps it was my sudden silence, the fact that I had “PANIC” written over my face or maybe how I began clutching my heart in hopes it would keep from bounding out of my chest, but Steve decided to climb up to help.

All I can say is thank goodness he'd worked with plenty of other girls over the years and was nice enough not to make me climb up there anyway. There's no doubt in my mind I would have had a heart attack. I made it through our second lighting adjustment in the other cove on stage right and safely back to the ground when Steve realized he had left his wrench in the first cove. On the wall he wanted me to climb. Did I retrieve the wrench? Yes, I did, but I find it hard not to wonder if that had been left up there on purpose. The mystery remains unsolved...

So all you would-be techies out there, be aware when volunteering for jobs and know there is no shame in pulling the "weenie" card now and again. 


  1. Oh man! Can I just tell you that I started feeling dizzy just picturing the view from up there? My mom is SUPER afraid of heights... like Can't even to stadium seating... I'm afraid I've caught it too, only mine is not as severe.... yet! Glad you survived!! ;)

  2. Haha! Oh man, truly it wasn't that bad--I just like being a bit dramatic when things make me nervous. (No wonder I'm in the arts!)


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