Behind the Scenes of OMTA’s Original Production, Portal – The Oberlin Review

College sophomore Lila Iyengar Lehman, Charley Schmidt and Jaka Jacklin separately shared their experiences working in tech for the show Gate. The show is co-directed by College sophomore Abigail Nordan and College sophomore Becca Dulaney, and runs November 5-6. Gate The cast and crew were told they would not have access to the space they originally thought they would play just weeks before they opened. Lehman, who is in the lights, Schmidt, who designed the set, and Jacklin, who handles the sound, each faced individual difficulties when redesigning their original plans. Going behind the scenes of lights, sound and decor is a rewarding and rewarding but arduous process, and they are all happy with the end product of the show.

These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

How did the change of scenery go for you as a lighting designer?

Lila Iyengar Lehman: It was definitely stressful for me, especially since I’m fairly new to lighting design. Last year, in the fall semester, I worked on the production of hand dance. I wanted to be an assistant stage manager, but they needed a lighting designer, and I thought, “I guess I can learn how to do lights.” The second show I did was The theory of relativity last year in Wilder Main Space. Because it was in Wilder, I was like, ‘Okay, I know how it works, I can totally design lights for Gate.” So when we had to change locations, it was very weird for me. This transition not only required moving all the lights, but also learning a lot of new gear that I had never dealt with before. The lighting design itself wasn’t that difficult, it was more about whether the design could be done with fewer lights, since we didn’t have access to that many lights. We have these three big trusses, which are like 10-foot-tall tripods, and each of them can hold four lights. We had to limit ourselves and how many lights we used because I could have had 24 or 25 in Wilder; it was my plan. So I just had to rework the plot a bit, which wasn’t that hard. The hardest part was trying to work with fewer lights.

Was this abrupt change a learning experience for you in any way?

LIL: Honestly, it’s been good in so many ways. The Oberlin Musical Theater Association asked people to help me through the process. Nelson Gutsch and Andrew McCracken, two second-year dual degree students, both work in the lighting studio. On the actual day of the move they had to show me how everything worked with the trusses and installation. It was the kind of thing where having someone who understood a little better than me to answer all my questions was really nice. When this was all thrown at me, I just wanted a month or two of practice and experience with the equipment before I had to put it into action immediately. I’m sure there are things that could have been done more thoroughly had I had more experience with the equipment. It was stressful for me, but it was also a great learning experience. I learned a lot of details about how to hook everything up, all the different cable connections, how everything is wired up and how everything needs to be set up. We also received eight new LED lights. I learned a lot, but right now, right in the middle of production week, I’m having a hard time seeing this as a silver lining, because I’m so overwhelmed.

How did the cast and crew handle this together?

LIL: The community is so beautiful. I didn’t have a lot of time to get to know all the actors, but they’re all amazing people. At first we weren’t even sure if we would get a show as we were told that Wilder was unavailable and they were trying to find us a new space. It was all really up in the air for a few days, and we had to let the cast know. When we told them they were all very supportive. Nobody thought about giving up, which was really motivating for us. Everyone totally stuck to it throughout the process. It’s disheartening when tons of things go wrong, and we’ve all really felt that, especially during these last few days of tech rehearsals. However, everyone has been super, super supportive of each other. I think that’s what really makes a show survive and succeed – the people involved. Each theatrical performance is about the unique group of people presenting it.

What does your work as a scenographer consist of?

Charles Schmidt: Interestingly – and probably a problem on my part – when I first signed up, I thought my job as a set designer was just to design the set. It turns out that the designer of any specific aspect of technology also manages the process. So, I designed the set, set the budget, bought the materials, built the set and moved it into Langston Hall.

How did you physically manage the new space?

CS: We took the piano out of the room and put all the chairs to one side. In Wilder you have a lot more space, and the way we were oriented it was a much longer space and not as wide. The hardest part was probably the windows. They’re such gorgeous, beautiful, huge windows, and that’s not really an issue for me, it’s much more of a lighting issue – it interferes with the lighting in the theater.

The directors already had an idea of ​​what they wanted the set to look like. So I was looking at the drawing, and from there I just needed to make it work in space. I wanted to use what we had in stock to keep the budget low. For this reason, I looked at what we had and what we could use. Then I figured out how I would take those things to make the most realistic version of what the director wanted. It’s a very collaborative process, so you really have to be in touch with the other people in the project.

How was the change of location for the sound?

Jaka Jacklin: From a technical point of view, the change between rooms went well for the sound. The majority of my work consisted of recording lines and creating sound effects. For the sound effects side, it was easy. I just needed to transport the audio files and my computer from place to place, no changes needed. However, for one particular’s lines, this one was a bit different. The lines and recordings themselves were adapted to the location; we were going to give the impression that there was someone talking on stage and who wasn’t really there. Because we changed stages, that obviously meant the effect was ruined. The week before Tech Week was a rush for me and the GLaDOS voice actor. The hardest challenge was just making sure we got all the lines in on time, because the change of location really upended that plan. We had about a third of the entire show’s lines recorded and adapted to our original location when the directors told me what happened. Other than that, nothing else was difficult. It was really a problem, but in the end I think I created something that I can be proud of at least sound-wise. Location doesn’t matter when we’re doing the show itself.

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