Tucked into the corner of the backstage area of the school’s auditorium, the crew room, fogged with sawdust, stands in all its artfully graffiti-ed glory. The sounds of hammers, drills and laughter pierce the air against a background of Irish punk music as the members of Stage Crew work away at the set for the upcoming show.
Stage Crew is responsible for the design and creation of lighting, sound, props, video and sets for the school’s theatrical productions. In short, “crew creates the worlds that our shows take place in,” senior master electrician Aaron Green said.
Stage Crew is governed by a group of specialized leadership members, all of whom work under one student technical director. This year, senior and homecoming king nominee James “Jimmy” Baldwin was awarded the position. “I’m basically the head honcho for Stage Crew, which means I manage the rest of the leadership, and make sure they’re on track, and I also manage our budget. So, I basically make sure the entire show, from a technical aspect, stays on track,” Baldwin said.
According to Baldwin, who has participated in Stage Crew since his freshman year, it was consistent attendance and hard work that led him to the position.
Last year, he was master carpenter and set designer. As he became more experienced with Stage Crew, he “just began getting more and more responsibility,” Baldwin said.
Lead director for fall plays and ESOL teacher Carla Ingram revealed that it is Baldwin’s efficiency and precision in Stage Crew that led her and former Stage Crew members to elect him into the position. “It was unanimous that he should be the [student technical director] this year,” Ingram said.
Baldwin has the approval of teachers and peers alike. “He has the support of everyone else in the crew…He is really good at what he knows and isn’t afraid to admit and ask for help for things he doesn’t know..It’s kind of like working with a scarier Mr. Hitchens who is into crew,” Green said.
One weakness that Baldwin has is a tendency to “do [work] himself ‘cause he knows it’ll be right, which can be a really good thing, but can be a bad thing too,” Ingram said.
Stage Crew is founded on a balance between work and play. “It’s really fun just to show up and talk to your friends and do a bunch of work – it makes you feel good about yourself. It’s good for your self-esteem,” Baldwin said.
Having joined the club with the intention of making friends, Baldwin has acquired that and more from his years in Stage Crew. “It’s helped me be a better leader, it’s helped me with public speaking a lot…I think it helps people who…might have been less social in middle school and elementary school than some of their peers were, and I think it helps them find a place in a high school environment…Everybody ends up being friends. It’s a really good way to find a family,” Baldwin said.