Set up the lights and camera and prepare for action as Rend Lake College’s new Theatre Technology class kicks off this fall. Classes start Monday, Aug. 21, but registration is continuing through Friday, Aug. 25.
In this class, students (and not necessarily just Theatre students) can learn the intricate details and skills of backstage hands – the actual “nuts and bolts” crew of any theatrical production, according to Theatre Associate Professor Tracey Webb.
Without the tech crews, the actors would be standing on an empty, unlit stage without any microphones, special effects or costumes to wear – all the things which help enhance any actor’s performance, said Webb.
The course will run from 8 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will be taught by Webb and Art Professor Therese Melena, who recently earned a Master’s Degree in Theatre Technology. Melena will perform specialized painting demonstrations, modeling design (miniature 3-D replicas of the set) and much more.
The course covers a myriad of specialties, including lighting design, carpentry, OSHA regulations for safety, sound enhancement and amplification, scenic painting, and costume design and construction, just to name a few.
“The class is definitely a hands-on endeavor, so the students will really get to roll up their sleeves and dive in. They’ll also be responsible for creating incredibly beautiful sets and costume pieces,” Webb said.
“Techies,” as the industry calls them, get more consistent work than even the most popular actors in the world and make very good money, according to Webb. One of her friends, a lighting designer in Hollywood, makes more than $700 per day lighting sets for various shows.
“Because of Therese’s studies at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, we wanted Theatre students to be able to transfer to SIU without any gaps in their Theatrical courses, so we tailored the course outline to closely mirror SIUC’s syllabus,” Webb said. “The students should be ready to seamlessly transfer over to SIU.
“The class itself will be a lot of fun, and if students like the idea of mastering the use of certain power tools, they should sign up. It’s a practical skill every person should have – even if they never plan to work in a theatre,” said Webb.