I admire the people behind the scenes who make the performers look and sound their best for the audience.
On the second Friday night of the 2008 Indianapolis Fringe Festival, in between seeing “Potpourri Potluck Kitchen Sink Meatloaf” and “Phil the Void: Comedy Over Quality,” I got a chance to chat with theatre technician Chris Strange. He ran lights and sound for performers on the Main Stage of Theatre on the Square during the Fringe.
“This year they (the Fringe) had three technicians quit on them at the last minute,” he told me. “So they called me up….I stepped into this theatre (TOTS) for the first time two days before the Fringe started.”
Last year he was on the staff of the American Cabaret Theatre and therefore worked the Fringe at that venue. He was the primary sound technician for ACT for four years. He has toured with “Menopause: the Musical” and worked in theatres all around Indianapolis, including Actors Theatre of Indiana up in Carmel and the Madame Walker Theatre downtown. He was also the sound technician for the Light of the World Christian Church until very recently. They offered him a fulltime position, but after the Fringe he is headed back west to Las Vegas. He went to high school here in Indiana, but was born in Hawthorn, Nevada.
I asked him what advice he would have for someone wanting to become a theatre technician, especially a Fringe technician.
“Learn to be flexible,” he said. “And learn how to communicate with people who don’t know how to communicate.”
I asked him if he had a favorite Fringe show. I don’t know why I asked this! I refuse to answer it when people ask me!
However, he graciously answered that he had enjoyed meeting the Israeli performers at last year’s Fringe, and the Australians at this year’s, especially the Birdmann (Trent Baumann.) “His show was odd and it was weird, but I loved it.”
I loved talking to Chris Strange. I wish him well out in Nevada. While we are on the subject of Fringe technicians, I want to shout a big “Thank You!” to Dani Norberg at the Phoenix Theatre, Matt Cunningham at the American Cabaret Theatre, Michael Davis at the ComedySportz Arena, Chris Strange at Theatre on the Square’s Main Stage, and whoever was running tech during the 2008 Fringe at Theatre on the Square’s Second Stage. (I’m sorry I didn’t catch that person’s name!)
I can only imagine how challenging it must be to run sound and lights for multiple performances of eight different shows in one week. I am very glad that there are people who are willing and able to do it!
Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com