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Let me preface this by saying that I love theater. It’s a lot of fun, the people there are great and I really love my job. I’m the social media correspondent, which means I run the social media accounts for theater here. That being said, theater is a huge time commitment.
Even before the infamous “tech week,” stage crew meets right after school until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Then, once tech week starts, rehearsal time ranges greatly. Some days it’s 2:30 until 8 p.m., others it’s 2:30 until 5:30 p.m., and still others are 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. Performance day, which for “Peter and the Starcatcher” includes a Thursday evening, means being at school by 5:30 p.m.. Cast, crew and pit can’t leave until 10 p.m.. “We go home at 9 and that definitely affects the quality of my morning periods,” sophomore Avana Wang said.
Such a hectic schedule impacts academics immensely. People do homework in between their scenes or cues. I did my precalculus homework while sitting in the lighting booth. I did chemistry homework during microphone checks. The time commitment doesn’t end with rehearsal. I spend about two hours outside of rehearsal working because what I do, marketing, requires a computer and I don’t own a laptop. “On average it’s like 10-12 hours that sound spends outside of crew hours working on finding and downloading sound cues and creating mic plots and figuring out how to make 29 subpar mics [microphones] that only work half the time work for 29 actors that are on stage the entire time,” senior Janel Berlinger, the sound designer, said.
Being in a play takes a lot of brain power and it’s hard to find the energy and motivation to do homework after being at school for 14 hours. “I think the biggest thing is when tech week comes around and you’re here until 9 and you get home at 9:30, 10 and you’re just so exhausted from working all day you need to sleep so you don’t complete your homework,” junior Olivia Speck said.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve watched my grades drop as a result of lack of sleep, studying and completion homework assignments, and I’m not alone. “My grades have suffered,” sophomore Val Zhao said.
Even though I love crew and being involved in high school theater, it takes up a lot of time and energy and is stressful. Factors are outside of your control, the schedule is grueling, if it can break it will. Something can, and will, go wrong. When something goes wrong and you need to fix it, it’s hard to focus on anything else, including school work. “I’m distracted,” freshman Kelly Ji said.
Being in a play is a big time commitment and big commitments always affect academics. “It takes up a lot of your time. It’s a full time job,” senior Eric Strauss said.
Learning to balance such a strenuous extracurricular on top of the already-intense junior year is not an easy task, but the joy of theater, the rush when we pull it off, and the pride when people come to see what we built, what we did, is worth it.