My Trek Through Theater Tech (and down to Pomona)
July 9, 2020
Hi y’all! My name is Hannah and I’m going to be writing some blog posts this summer, although I just graduated from Mudd two months ago! I previously wrote some blogs two years ago, when I worked on campus and gave admissions tours over the summer, and now I’m back (metaphorically, since I’m technically still at home) working as a senior intern for the summer. You can check out two of the blogs I wrote two years ago Top 10 Reasons The Muddraker is the Best Club on Campus [not clickbait] and Food, Friends, and Foliage: My Summer in Admissions!
Last time I blogged, I had only recently decided to double major, adding Theater to my MCB (mathematical and computational biology) major. Since then, I’ve taken lots of really great theater classes, participated in plays, seen plays, gotten a job in the theater, written a thesis, and made some great friends along the way.
Although adding the Theater major definitely meant that I had a busier schedule than I would have had otherwise, I’m really glad that I was able to be involved in the Theater Department in lots of different ways!
Some of my favorite classes I took over the last four years were classes that focused on different aspects of theater technology (lighting, projections, and sound technology!). In both of these classes, we learned about both design and technical aspects of these theatrical elements and we got to do a combination of critiquing professional shows and experimenting with our own projects.
In addition to taking some great classes, I worked as part of the tech crew for some of Pomona’s plays. This is required for all theater majors, but it’s also a really fun way to work on a show and get backstage experience! This fall, I even got to help out as an assistant lighting designer for our musical (Pippin), which was definitely a lot of work, but also a great way for me to learn more about the design process!
This year, I got to do two things that I’d been looking forward to for the last few years! I got a job on the Theater Department’s Electrics Crew and I wrote one of my theses on lighting technology! The Electrics Crew is a group of really kind and awesome people who come into the theatre a few times a week to work on different projects related to the lighting, sound, and projections equipment in the theatre. The Electrics Crew works with Janelle Asti, Pomona’s master electrician/sound engineer, one of the coolest people I met in college, and one of the people who inspired me to become a theater major!
One of the other things I got to work on this year with the Theater Department was my Senior Thesis. Theater majors typically choose to do a thesis that is split between a project and a paper and, if you’re interested in acting or theater design, you can choose to work on one of Pomona’s four main shows for your project. Because I’ve always been more interested in technical theater, I focused my paper on the history of theatrical lighting technologies and then spent the spring semester running experiments and recreating some of the technology. I chose this project because it built on a lot of things that I had learned in previous classes and allowed me to learn more about reasons behind different technologies. Also, I got to look at a lot of different lightbulbs and candles and even make my own arc lamp!
One of my favorite parts about being a theater major was the abundance of unexpected experiences I got to enjoy! I took classes I never would have thought about taking otherwise (including Corporeal Mime, which turned out to be awesome), read amazing plays I’d never heard of before, and met so many thoughtful and interesting people I might not have met otherwise.