Stepping into the Black Box on the opening night of a production can feel like stepping into another world. What was once a plain, black room shifts into something entirely different. In The Little Prince, it became a beach with volcanoes, stars, and sunsets. And now, just a few months later, it is becoming an enchanted forest, with a tower and a beanstalk for Into the Woods. However, it isn’t magic that makes the sets come to life–it’s the hard work of Bosque’s Technical Theatre students led by Mr. VeSeart.
Going backstage a few weeks before the musical, you’ll find what seems to be a hundred projects happening simultaneously. One tech student is painting a cow, another is making Rapunzel’s hair, three are on the stage taking measurements, and another two are asking Mr. VeSeart what they can do next; and this is just in Tech class. In addition to Tech class, there’s Tech Club that amplifies the amount of projects with a greater number of students.
Both Tech class and Tech Club are open to 9th–12th grade students.Tech class meets during the week, during regularly scheduled class times. Tech Club meets every Tuesday, with additional hours on the weekend, as the production gets closer. In total, hundreds of hours are devoted to all of the technical details. Aviva ‘20, for example, said she put in seven hours working on Rapunzel’s hair over just one weekend. In addition to the hair, Aviva also constructed the entire beanstalk for the production.
With a limited budget devoted to Technical Theatre, Mr. VeSeart and his students have to get creative and resourceful. This year, the students are reusing the substructure of The Little Prince set as the substrate for the Into the Woods set. It’s a way to save on costs as well as time.“We recycle everything,” said Mr. V. “I try not to buy things new, except for lumber, which eats up the majority of our budget.” Mr. V says the program is very much open to any and all donations. “This program functions on donations,” he disclosed. Community members have donated lathes, saws, lumber, and various other tools to their cause. “If you have it in your garage and it’s going to a dumpster, bring it to us first; we can pull off a few pieces that we can use and then toss the rest in our own dumpster,” proposed Mr. V.
After endless hours devoted to building a set, one can imagine the feeling of having to take it apart. ”Strike,” the theatre term for tearing down the set, is a day with many mixed feelings. Some of Mr. V’s students expressed how it makes them sad, and some shared how exciting it is. Jakob ‘20 said, “You just can’t wait to tear it apart and start all over again.” He enjoys the whole process and all of the problem-solving that comes with it. “You have 30 problems in an hour that you have to figure out,” he said. “I find it fun. It’s enjoyable and very satisfying.”
Tech Club started back in 2003 and Mr. V has been with Bosque since the beginning. He even worked with Bosque on the Black Box blueprints. “I have the ribbon from the cutting of our very first show,” he said. Over the years, tech students have come and gone; graduated and moved on from Bosque. However, Mr. V keeps a packet of letters that are sent to him and his current students from past club members. They serve as a reminder of the impact that Technical Theatre has not only on each production, but on each of its students.