It was 2 a.m. by the time the crew returned from a grueling yet gratifying 19-hour day. The technicians left Castleton at 6 a.m. to ensure the stage, lights, and sound system were set up accordingly. This trip marked the second time Castleton State College’s theater department packed up a show and hit the road to Johnson State College. And this year, Johnson for the first time brought a show here, featuring All My Sons on Nov. 16.
“It was a long day, but it was extremely cool seeing my design come to life,” said Louis Riquelme, the scenic designer and master carpenter who also drove the 24-foot truck filled with equipment.
Harry McEnerny, chair of the theater department, said the idea of the exchange started a year and a half ago when a Johnson theater department faculty member passed away and his colleagues wanted to do something to remember him by. Together it was decided that it would be a great opportunity for the students to see what it was like to create a show that had to travel.
Austyn Bevins, one of the actors in this year’s play who helped get costumes ready for last year’s show, said things were a lot more organized this year.
“From what I understand, it was kind of a shit show last year, but this year we turned out ahead of schedule,” he said, adding that although he wasn’t there, performers said this year’s show went much smoother.
Bevins said the actors had to adjust to certain things such as sound and projection, a seemingly smaller stage, and much less rehearsal and prep time, but in the end the change of venue gave them the adrenaline they needed to make it through the day.
Steve Gross, the school scenic designer and technical director, stressed that the biggest challenge at Johnson was lighting. The school had a completely different light system meaning different brands and a different number of lights, he said.
But John Lukas, the light board operator said, luckily the commands can be saved on a memory stick and plugged into Johnson’s light board.
“It was good to collaborate with Johnson,” Lukas said
Riquelme also commented on the light troubles.
“You can bring the set, but you can’t bring the lighting equipment,” he said.
It was stressful but for this show, the lights were the least of his worries. It was his first time being in charge of an entire set, which he said was more stressful because “you can’t do everything yourself.”
Jan Herder, the director of Dibden Center for Arts at Johnson, said he is excited about the swap. He is creating a video blog about the event that can be found on Youtube, the first of which has already been posted. He also hopes to possibly turn the exchange of plays into a “collaborative competition” like a sporting event.
“A bit rad, I know,” he said.
Although deemed a success, McEnerny said he isn’t sure whether the department will take another show to Johnson or the Paramount Theater like they used to. Touring a show can be a stressful experience and this year they traded some energy for the next show, for traveling, he said.
It’s not the money that is spent that matters, but the fatigue and loss of energy is what they pay, McEnerny said. But according to him, it was worth it.
“If the benefits did not outweigh the cost, we wouldn’t do it,” McEnerny said.