So…10 years ago, in 2005, when I was just a wee lass…
I walked onto the stage of the Shubert Theatre. I was a member of The Nebraska Theater Caravan’s A Christmas Carol. I was the second Electrician and Follow Spot Operator, a year out of college and touring the states for the first time. Though not originally from New Haven, I had visited friends who worked at Long Wharf and Yale Repertory in previous years and learned about the Shubert Theater – its legendary shows and artists. Then the realization hit me: I was walking into one of my first Theatrical Union operated houses – The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, specifically Local 74, which has been associated with the Shubert Theatre since it’s inception in 1914. At the end of my 3-day visit, I was lucky enough to be able to sign the basement halls of the Shubert, where many touring companies have signed their names before me. I traveled on home to Iowa, but quickly found myself back in New Haven working for Regional Theaters around Connecticut and found some familiar faces along my journey, those of the Members of Local 74.
Fast forward to 2015, when A Broken Umbrella Theater is scheduled to perform an original work onstage at the Shubert. I quickly jumped at the opportunity to design scenery for this world premiere production. Though various creation workshops and rehearsals a show quickly formed. We wanted to share the inner workings of what happens in the life of theater artists and technicians. And, it occurred to me that theater-goers never get the chance to see the behind-the-scenes work that goes into each production. When the audience walks into the Shubert, or any other theater in the world, they are treated to a well-oiled and polished spectacle; actors flit in and out of light while scenery magically shifts from one location to another. There is a form of magic produced in front of their very eyes. The Shubert walls disappear and the audience is transported into the world of the show onstage. This magic performed at the Shubert is produced and perfected by the men and women backstage, the Stagehands of Local 74. I have had the pleasure to witness the endless talent of these folks backstage and my goal was to figure out a way to share what I see with the audiences of SEEN CHANGE!. I want to share the feeling I had when I first walked onto the stage at the Shubert. To see the walls of the Shubert Theater as it waits for the start of a performance. To share how the stage transforms into what audiences expects to see – a finished production filled with magic. To see the stage at the end of the night – put to sleep, waiting for it’s next group of weary travelers.
Through this production we have been able to pay homage to the work that goes into all aspects of the theatrical world. To share the lives of the Stagehands who have worked tirelessly to perfect their art along side the actors who perform nightly. I am lucky to have learned from them and look forward to learning more. I am amazed to be onstage at the Shubert, where so many great artists have come before me. I would like to say thank you to the Stagehands of Local 74 – without you we could not have performed our magic.
Janie Alexander, A Broken Umbrella Theatre