Black Box is set and ready to host Sarah Ruhl’s ‘Melancholy Play’


Musicals and plays are a large centerpiece of the Kingswood Oxford arts program, but not many know about what goes on behind the scenes. This year’s fall play is definitely one to attend as the tech crew has been working very diligently, and the set as well as the special effects will unquestionably be stunning.

The tech crew dedicates countless hours after school to make sure the appearance of the set and construction is perfect for each musical and play that takes place. It is composed of students from all grades and various levels of understanding in the field of design. They typically meet three times a week in the early stages of the play, but as they get closer to the performance they meet five times a week. According to senior Aiden Borruso, meetings times change frequently because the crew isn’t allowed to be in the black box while the actors are rehearsing, so they normally work in the Roberts Theatre workshop. When they get the opportunity, they make use of the black box.

Head of the tech crew Robert MacPherson shared that tech crew is quite a commitment, and not something that can be easily done. “There are no strict requirements to be in tech crew; however, you need to be able to listen, follow directions, and dive in when necessary,” he said. Senior Spencer Schaller added on, saying that there is more to tech than just physical labor. “One of the surprising things about tech,” he said, “is the number of problems we have to find creative solutions to.”

When asked about the most important events that the tech crew works on, Mr. MacPherson immediately answered with the February musical. He touched upon last year’s winter musical, “Chicago,” and how the set required a lot of extra work. “Last year we built a platform that was 40 feet by 24 feet upon eight-foot legs,” Mr. MacPherson said. Spencer agreed that last year’s set was difficult for him as one of the constructors because they had to make a standing platform for the orchestra that was both up to union standards and fit on the stage. “For ‘Chicago,’ the set had to be up to certain standards in order to have people on it,” he said.

Right now, the tech crew is preparing for “Melancholy Play,” and they are entering their tech weeks, which are the two weeks before the show where everything gets finalized and ready to be placed on the stage. They are focusing on fine-tuning all aspects of the set and doing last-minute touches. Mr. MacPherson described these two weeks as the most rigorous aspect of tech crew. As of now, the tech crew is working on a device to make it rain in the black box, which will make its appearance in the fall play. In addition, the tech crew has struggled with the hexagonal figures for “Melancholy Play” and they have also tried to develop a mechanism to make one of the hexagon platforms rotate. Even so, this year’s play is sure to be amazing thanks to the hard work of the tech crew.

Many of the students that are part of this group, including Aiden and Spencer, have been doing it for a while. “I enjoy running both the shows and building the sets and everything,” Spencer said. Additionally, both Spencer and Aiden shared that running the shows gives them a sense of completion and satisfaction. For future shows, Aiden said he anticipates the same amount of production quality because next year’s tech crew will be very competent. “It is normally a junior who takes over for stage manager, and both of the ones in tech crew [right now] are very capable, so I am excited to see what comes next for tech crew,” Aiden said.