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Behind-the-scenes talent in the spotlight with ‘Tech Show’

By Sabrina Pond

Section: Arts

February 6, 2015

At any artistic performance, there are people in the stage light—those who are in public view, the main attraction of the show—and the techies, or those who make the show to happen. These people are never seen beyond the stage curtains, but they decorate the show, give it a touch of flair and make a finished piece that can be applauded. To recognize those people who are not typically seen, Brandeis Ensemble Theater and Brandeis Players presented “Apackalypse: The Tech Show,” a performance that was the result of the collaboration of the techies of the Undergraduate Theatre Collective in the SCC theater Jan. 30 and 31.

Although it may initially come off as a shock, there were no actors. Those who were directly involved in the performance wore skin-tight black suits so as to blend in with the background, and that was completely purposeful. For the first time in a long time, the main players in a production were not humans. The protagonists were a backpack and a flower, and the storyline followed their adventures through the landscape.

Before the start of the show an announcer explained that this collaborative piece had been in the making for two weeks, and that many laughs were had over that short time. Thereafter she asked us, as an audience, to have our own laughs and enjoy the show not as a serious, philosophical creation, but as an interesting and fun artistic creation. Over the course of the performance, many laughs were shared among the crowd, especially when a camel, played by two techies, made its way into the audience and commenced kissing spectators.

The show showcased the greatest talents of the techies, who were crafty and ambitious in their understanding of sound, lighting and props. Though the main action of the collaboration came off as silly and repetitive (one techie, dressed in one of the black body suits, waved the backpack in the air throughout the entire performance to simulate a backpack being blown by the wind), it was nonetheless stunning how well the techies knew how to use the surrounding elements to their advantage. With the smallest set changes, the setting completely changed. As an audience member there was no question as to where the backpack had ended up, and it was all because of small, purposeful adjustments.

Going from the West, to a beach, to the ocean floor and finally space, the techies were creative in executing scene changes without closing the curtain. When the backpack made it to the ocean floor the techies flipped one prop piece, which had the look of the ocean floor on its bottom side. The texture was porous and spongy looking, just like the corals found deep in the ocean. Another techie let down a different prop from the ceiling, a fixture with green streamers hanging from it. Although simplistic, it was extremely reminiscent of seaweed, and really added to believability of the setting. All that, coupled with the lighting and sound, really set the right tone for the scene.

In this case the techies also used calm background sounds that were unmistakably that of the deep echoing of the sweet sea. The backpack and turtle puppeteers were then able to move their respective objects in slow motion, as if the puppets were being carried by a current. This meant that at times the techies moved the turtles or backpack in sudden, jerky movements, as the current controlled their path more than anything else. The UTC tried to make the movements of their props as credible as possible and had an absolute blast in the process, all the while letting the audience in on the laughter.

The Tech Show was meant to recognize the tech crew as a crucial asset to the making of a performance. They may not always be appreciated for their unbelievable talents and contributions, but their efforts are necessary and usually fundamental to the creation of a truly remarkable show. The techies should never be forgotten or dismissed for their work, but they won’t let that happen regardless.

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