The Unseen Heros

Theatre Department Technicians Prove Worth in “Big Fish”


Kyra Plas

At the Haunted House production, junior Brenden Kellicker works on lighting. He works on the theater tech crew during productions. “I do the lighting, which heavily affects the mood in scenes,” Kellicker said. “Light might not change much, but it subconsciously changes the way you feel or experience a scene.”

Jonathan Levinsky, Reporter

As tech week for the Theatre department’s production of  “Big Fish” loomed, junior Michael Zolidis stood on the fly rail, both hands on a rope, careful not to pull it too fast. It was about 9:30 p.m. on a school night and they had been at this for hours, but it needed to be done tonight, as the infamous “tech week” was upon them. Zolidis felt a rush of relief as each piece was pulled above the stage and out of sight; it seemed as though the final, and most difficult project was going to be completed. 

Technicians often do not get enough credit for what they have to accomplish in a limited amount of time. Tech has multiple sub-departments that specialize in different parts of the show, including being set design, construction, lighting, hair and makeup and costumes. All of these departments had their abilities put to the test, as “Big Fish” needed to be extravagant and colorful, requiring work outside of rehearsals.  Zolidis, who was the Construction Head for the show, said he spent a total of 20 hours in the PAC per week, as this show required more work than usual.

“This show [was] very challenging,” Zolidis said. “There’s no other way to put it. We had to get creative with this show. There were several different set pieces we had to build. The show was also very abstract, which made it even more difficult.”

This meant that certain aspects of the set would require work outside of rehearsal. While Zolidis admits that it did hinder his schedule slightly, his level of experience as a technician allowed him to be prepared.

“My schedule has a bunch of goals,” Zolidis said. “If I meet those goals, I’m good. But it depends on how many problems or obstacles arise, and how long it takes to figure them out.”

While Zolidis’s department faced multiple setbacks, he had a larger workforce at his command, whereas junior Brenden Kellicker, who led the lighting crew, had a smaller crew with less prompting.

“It’s harder to manage a team than I initially thought,” Kellicker said. “I have to make sure that I am on top of everyone’s cues, and ensure that they know what is expected of them.”

Kellicker’s department plays a fundamental role during shows, as the lighting helps the audience understand the location and the emotional value of the scene. This required Kellicker to really study the script of the show, and attend almost every rehearsal, in order to really understand what kind of lighting each scene required, as most of the lighting in the show is by his own design.

“I had almost full creative control over things in lighting,” Kellicker said. “Obviously, I also operate based on the notes I’m given by the director in certain areas, but most things in the show are by my own design.”

All this hard work by technicians like Zolidis and Kellicker has the Theatre Department hopeful that the show will once again receive multiple nominations for the Heller Awards held in April. The Heller Awards are like the high school version of the Tony Awards, but for the Austin area. Last year’s production of  “Something Rotten!” brought in six award nominations. While it seems that technician’s work is very much taken for granted, the massive role they play in any production does not go unnoticed by actors like junior Courtney McDanald, who played The Witch.

“The technicians do so much for the actors,” McDanald said. “We would not be able to perform without the technicians as they do so much for us, like making us look amazing on stage. There would be no show without them.”