The Sock ‘n’ Buskin Theatre Company is Carleton University’s oldest club and Canada’s oldest run theatre company at a university. Throughout the school year, the company puts on four to five shows.
Their fourth performance of the season, Twelfth Night opened on Jan. 18 and ran until Jan. 27 with a six-show run. I was given the job as props manager for Twelfth Night, and that soon turned into the added responsibility of being a fourth stage-hand. The tech weekend took place the weekend before opening night, so it was a busy three weeks for the backstage crew.
To experience tech weekend as part of the crew was an amazing experience, and one that I really loved. Throughout the weekend I was able to meet the cast and get to know them more closely, as well as meet the rest of the stage-hands and the stage manager.
Over the two days of tech weekend, we ran through the scenes in a cue-to-cue and did runs of the show in and out of costumes. Everyone was extremely nice, and by the time tech weekend ended, I was already experiencing Twelfth Night withdrawal because I couldn’t wait to get back into the swing of things.
Laura Sumpter, the backstage stage manager was extremely nice and it was amazing to be able to work with her as well as the other stage-hands, Brody, Kristin, and Natascha.
Opening weekend dawned faster than I thought and by the time it appeared, I was excited to get back stage. Being a stage-hand was nothing short of incredible. It was one of the best parts of being at Carleton so far.
Between each scene, the stage would black out and us stage-hands would move on to the stage to remove the props from the previous scene and set new props up for a different scene. Before every show, we would write a new message to Christian on the paper on the desk for him to see.
During intermission, we would hang the vines on the set to indicate that the season had changed and that it was now spring in the show. Unbeknownst to Christian, Laura would help us tape the vines to the set so that they wouldn’t fall down. Natascha and I would work on putting up the vines on one side while Brody and Kristin would do the other side and Laura would go back and forth between us handing us pieces of tape to stick the vines to the set.
There were also the parts of the show that only us cast and crew would understand. During the third show, Lauren Stiers, who played Sir Toby, started singing the lyrics to “All Star” by Smash Mouth during one of the scenes and since it wasn’t part of her normal lines, none of us backstage expected us and we all burst out laughing.
On the night of the fifth show, Molly, who played The Fool, played the tune of “My Heart Will Go On,” on her flute during the scene where she plays the flute in the wings. We didn’t expect that either and we were surprised because it was quite good, and Molly is a great flute player.
Working as a stage-hand on Twelfth Night was amazing and I will always remember it because it was the first show that I’ve been part of the crew, so it was really fun.