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The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

Setting up

In the set program students don’t just build platforms and structures, they build lasting bonds and vital skills.
Junior+Hannah+Ruger+guides+Freshman+Corrine+Bennett+as+she+cuts+up+a+plank+of+wood+using+the+electric+saw.+
photo by Holly Smyers
Junior Hannah Ruger guides Freshman Corrine Bennett as she cuts up a plank of wood using the electric saw.

Behold the lights and the flashy colors, dramatic acting and an entire team of people working to make a show happen. At the heart of every show is the background. In the set department, the very essence of a story is carved from raw materials and built from wood and nails, but It’s not just the set that is being built, it is relationships and lifelong skills too.

The set crew works for almost as long as the cast on each show, building backgrounds and structures for every play. Each day begins with a meeting, where the crew goes over the day’s goals and sorts people into groups. These can be anything from painting to building, or even cleaning up. There are many moving pieces, but not everything goes according to plan, just like actors, sometimes the crew has to improvise. 

There are a lot of challenges that happen. Sometimes our designs don’t work. We have to scrap them and start over with new wood and materials and try doing it a different way,” Clue set coordinator Katana Henderson said.

In order to build one structure for the January show “Clue,” the set crew dealt with eight pieces of wood that were supposed to support a large platform with walls. Someone ended up cutting them much shorter than they needed to be, causing a lot of stress for the workers, with them having to rework parts of the set to accommodate.  

The theater spent 14,000 dollars on wood and screws for the set, so it is vital that nothing goes to waste. Measurements need to be exact for things to work properly, everyone needs to be very careful with what they do and when. 

Before I do anything, I triple-check with Solomon, our theater director,” senior Mackenzie Roberts said. “I like to triple-check everything that I do, so that I don’t make mistakes, and so it could be up to his standards as well.” 

Not everything works out, however, and to be successful, the coordinators need to learn to think on their feet and listen when things are not working. 

“You have to work well with your crew and be able to problem solve on the spot. Things don’t always work out so you need to be able to listen to other people’s ideas to fix mistakes,” Henderson said.

This does not just apply to the set coordinators either. Everyone working on set has to be collaborating with each other to build everything correctly and keep from making big mistakes. 

“You need to learn teamwork and be willing to learn and to put your ego aside. You can’t go in assuming that you know everything,” sophomore Olivia Ahlqvist said.” [In the beginning],  you’re probably not going to be put on a lot of things, your job is to just learn.” 

The process of getting all the materials and working to get things done can be chaotic and stressful, especially with shipping delays and a very strict deadline. The average crew member spends around 50 hours working on the set in the two months they have to get everything done. When working on “Clue,” all of the wood they needed arrived only two weeks before they had to have everything finished, so they had to scramble to finish the two-story structure in time.

“My biggest challenge was time management.  You just have so much stuff to do in such a short period of time.” said Roberts. “I want the “Clue” [set] to be the best set that we’ve ever put on the Hagerty stage. There’s a very short amount of time we have to make that happen.”

Everyone in the theater department displays a large devotion to their craft and they all try to encourage each other as well. Especially those in leadership roles, as they know the underclassmen are the future of the department, and hope to inspire them as much as the upperclassmen inspired them. 

“My coordinators were amazing. Every single day I would come in and they would just like to know about everything we had to do. [I hope to] inspire other people the way they inspired me,” Roberts said.

Being in the theater department, and specifically set, the students develop both technical skills and their character, while working on something they are truly passionate about with people they grow close to.

“[If I could start over from Freshman year] I would enjoy it all the time because it’s like it just flashed by so quickly. I was so focused on being set coordinator and should have enjoyed it all a little bit more,” Roberts said.

By far, one of the best parts of working on a set is the big moment when everything these students have been working on gets displayed on the stage at opening night. 

“Seeing all your hard work paying off on opening night,  it’s my favorite part,” Ahlqvist said.

The set crew works very hard every show to make it work. The upcommig show, Clue which will be performed on January 18-20. The story is both a comedy and a murder mystery surrounding a mysterious dinner party. 

“I think that the set is going to be one of the best sets on the Hagerty stage.[My crew is] all working so hard, and I’m just so excited for all the hard work to pay off and the curtain to open and the set to look gorgeous,” Roberts said.

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Holly Smyers
Holly Smyers, Staff Reporter
Holly is a sophomore at Hagerty High School, and this is her first year on staff. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading and ice skating.
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