Set crew brings Yonkers to Washington
Behind the scenes of the spring play reveals what makes the show another world.
February 28, 2017
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Seeing a show put on by LSHS Drama is always a great time. Most of the time, the actors get the most credit and praise for the show, and rightly so. But there are more people working to make the show wonderful than are onstage every night.
Think about it: the actors are great at making the story come to life and to transport the audience into the world of the story, but the final touch of getting into the story involves the background details that many overlook. Between lighting choices, costuming and set design, there are more people involved in drama than just the students onstage. Perhaps one of the most important of these is the set.
Some may underestimate the time, energy and effort that set crew puts into every set. The students and parent volunteers who work on the set put in weeks and even months of effort. The amount of time put into a set depends on the show.
“The process of building a set for a play with a single setting, like Lost in Yonkers, will take approximately 2 ½ months,” parent volunteer Ken Cody said , who already has six shows under his belt. This process includes planning, budgeting, and acquiring all of the materials that are necessary to create the world of the show, as well as the actual construction and detailing of the set. But this process can change depending on a show’s type, setting or length. In a show such as The Music Man, which the Drama Club put on earlier this year, Cody said that the process of making the set took “closer to 4 months.”
The set crew isn’t just limited to the kids who volunteer after school. In fact, the Math Construction class (taught by Mr. Knutson) also does a lot to help the show get off the page and onto the stage.
“We just do the skeleton [of the set],” said Knutson. “[It] takes about a month.”
“Creating sets is great,” junior Jordy Jackson said , who was the stage manager for The Music Man and is the current stage manager for Lost in Yonkers. “It’s a collaboration between Mr. Cody, Mr. Knutson’s class, Mrs. Marks, and set crew. You get to see all of these ideas come together to really bring the setting to life.”
While all the collaboration seems like a great time, it can be challenging as well. “It’s a lot of work to make sure everyone’s on the same page,” Jackson said about the number of groups helping to put the set together. “It’s also very messy. Trust me.”
Another challenge with building the set doesn’t just have to do with the number of people on set, but simply the number of people in drama.
“The most difficult thing about being on set is definitely time and space management,” Cody said. “We are always trying to work fast and usually there are a lot of actors that are rehearsing in the same space.”
In addition, the specific time period and circumstances of this year’s play presents a new challenge.
“The play is set in 1942 Yonkers, New York, and is about a very frugal family,” claimed Cody. The set crew works hard to make sure every detail of a set adds up. For example, because the family is frugal, the inside of the apartment can’t look too nice but also has to fit into the very precise time period of 1942 New York.
As for which sets are their favorites, it seems to be a toss-up between lots of different shows. Knutson’s was Peter Pan (done in 2013) because “It had a few different stories including stairs, ladders and a bunch of engineering to do.” Cody’s is a tie between Tarzan (2014) and The Music Man (2016), whereas Jackson’s favorite was You Can’t Take it With You (2016). However, if there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that being involved with set is absolutely worth it.
“[The set crew pours] their hearts and souls into these productions,” Cody explained.
Jackson agreed. “[The set crew has] a bond like a family. [They work] to make the set as immersive as possible. That kind of dedication is a major contributor to the quality of our shows.”
Knuston added that “watching all of it come together” is the best part about being on set.
To see all the hard work the set crew does in real life, be on the lookout for Lost in Yonkers, which is set to perform April 27-29 and May 4-6.