Summertime is a wonderful opportunity for us here at the Tecumseh Center for the Arts (TCA) to regroup and prepare for the upcoming season of shows. From the local and regional performances and events we host, to the national and international touring shows passing through, audiences far and wide have only to purchase a ticket to participate.
But have you ever wondered what was involved in getting that event to the stage, what goes on behind the scenes? Well, there are several things, as it turns out, that are required to produce what you see on stage, and today, I will introduce you to one of those. It is quite likely an aspect of each presentation that you may have never noticed. (And that’s a good thing!)
For more than 30 years, the TCA has been a place of education, both onstage and behind the scenes. Our staff has taught students (and adults as well) about the craft of live performance and the various aspects of bringing a show to life. To that end, we created the Student Technical Corps.
Though informal at first, TCA’s Tech Corps program has always been a part of who we are. The Corps, which is well into its second decade officially, has seen more than 140 middle and high school students participate. We have also included introductory, hands-on opportunities for hundreds of Summer Elementary, Middle, and High School Drama Camp students over the last 5 years, and recently completed our second year of a stage technician only class. These first-time tech students, Grades 6-11 work with the TCA staff to provide technical support for the culminating shows at the end of each session of Drama Camp.
In addition, we employ 8-12 high school-aged students throughout the year to provide tech services for every show that is put onstage. There are ongoing workshops throughout the year to train new students on the technical aspects of theatre. They receive hands-on time with the lighting control board and lighting instruments, the sound control board and audio equipment, as well as all of the backstage crew positions. New “techies” also job-shadow the older tech students and our adult staff during live performances to gain more experience, and most are assigned to run the lighting or sound board for a basic show within a short period of time From something as “simple” as a movie or business meeting requiring one or two people, to the more complicated shows, such as The Nutcracker Ballet, which requires 10 or more people, we are there, behind the scenes, helping to bring the event to life for our patrons.
Through the TCA’s tech program, students have had not only worked with community members on local and regional productions, such as Tecumseh Youth Theatre, Tecumseh Pops and Community Chorus, TCA Big Band & VocalAires, Tecumseh Players, and Tecumseh Public Schools’ events, but have also had the opportunity to learn about the world of live professional productions, working with a wonderfully diverse group of artists including Davy Jones, Dan Seals, The Irish Rovers, Feld Ballet NY, The Acting Company, The National Theatre of the Deaf, Famous People Players, Lightwire, Gary Puckett, Second City, Capitol Steps, comedians Ben Bailey and Godfrey, Broadway and film star Franc D’Ambrosio, Meadowbrook Theatre, The Toledo Symphony, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and the Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Cab Calloway, and Guy Lombardo Orchestras, just to name a few.
For most of our student techs, this introduction and training into the world of live performance is the first “real” job they will have. We are honored to have been the starting point for many students who continued using their skills beyond high school, and for several that have entered careers in the industry. Former students have worked across the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, and East Asia, with such companies as Disney on Ice, ETC Lighting Controls (who provided lighting expertise for events like the Olympics in Vancouver and London), Washington, DC’s Shakespeare Theatre Company, Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, Michigan State University, The University of Michigan, Bowling Green University, Cobo Hall, Comerica Park, and many, many more. All had their start at the Tecumseh Civic Auditorium/Tecumseh Center for the Arts and are making a living in the entertainment industry today.
Regardless of their future careers, Student Tech Corps members learn teamwork, discipline, cooperation, and focus - all important qualities that will last a life-time.
Currently, Tecumseh Center for the Arts is looking to grow our Student Tech Corps program for the 2018-2019 season. We are looking for students ages 14-18 who are interested in learning about the technical side of theater. If you know of a high school student who may be interested in joining our ranks, please contact Karen Bunch and let’s talk!
Behind the scenes of Tecumseh Center for the Arts.