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Take a look behind the scenes of ‘Pygmalion’ on stage Oct. 2-5

Four students on stage in McDaniel's Alumni Hall reviewing plans for lighting and set props.
September 27, 2013

The class “Stagecraft” may very well epitomize the liberal arts in action. Twenty students with majors that cross all disciplines and career aspirations just as diverse are learning the craft of staging a show.

Every Tuesday evening, the stage is alive with activity. There’s lighting, scenery construction, logistics, historical accuracy – and that doesn’t even touch on learning to use a compound miter saw or figuring out how and when to put chocolates in the on-stage candy dish or even how they might save money by using their professor’s pool cover – minus the springs – as a nighttime backdrop.

Top all that with the fact that this show will most definitely go on – the curtain goes up on Theatre Arts production of “Pygmalion” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2-5. Their behind-the-scenes leader – quite fearless – is Theatre Arts professor Ira Domser.

“We cover the fundamentals of what makes theater happen,” says Domser, pointing out that he’s trying to rectify the fact that every stagecraft student begins the class mightily afraid of the compound miter saw. But non-Theatre Arts majors beware: Domser has plans, joking “I will infect them with this disease we call Theatre.”

Take a look behind the scenes of ‘Pygmalion’ on stage Oct. 2-5
Junior Matthew Baldwin, a master electrician already working professionally for bands at Baltimore venues, hangs lights for the Oct. 2 opening of "Pygmalion."

Junior Logan Smith, a Communication major with a minor in Theatre Arts, is more at home acting but here she stands atop a 7-foot ladder hammering nails into the “Pygmalion” set.

“I am certainly out of my element here but this is a really cool class and I am learning the technical side of theatre,” says Smith, who took this semester off acting in McDaniel productions to get the inside view of stagecraft.

Senior Psychology major Ashlee Kirksey and junior Business Administration major Ashley Manning are working side-by-side with Theatre Arts majors and Alumni Hall regulars junior Matthew Baldwin and senior Kyla Greenhorn.

Take a look behind the scenes of ‘Pygmalion’ on stage Oct. 2-5
First-year student Tykia Harper and junior Logan Smith push the cart full of tools and equipment they'll need for the evening's scenery construction onto the elevator with professor Ira Domser.

No matter that Kirksey is planning on a career in marketing and Manning hopes to someday manage a Hilton hotel abroad, they are here to learn from Baldwin, a lighting expert and master electrician who is already working professionally in lighting for bands at Baltimore venues, and Greenhorn, who counts being “Pygmalion” stage manager as her 20th production.

“It’s fun to unplug and do something with my hands,” says Kirksey as he twists the springs from a dark blue pool cover.

Nearby, Tykia Harper is polishing fruit – fake fruit, that is. Considering a program of study in American Sign Language-Deaf Education, Harper finds the class interesting and a lot of hard work. What she’s learning about “lights and wood and tools” is all new to the first-year student from Laurel, Md.

Assistant stage manager Mindy Davis has some experience staging plays in high school but the first-year student from Rising Sun, Md., notes that it is much different putting together a production in six weeks as compared to three or four months.

“I want to be an anthropologist and need to be well-rounded,” says Davis as she points out to senior Theatre Arts major Louisa Jenkins a section of a windowsill in the scenery that needs to be secured. “Besides, I want to study Rome and Pompeii and both had a lot of theater.”

Take a look behind the scenes of ‘Pygmalion’ on stage Oct. 2-5
Assistant stage manager Mindy Davis points out to senior Louisa Jenkins a spot where the set needs to be secured.

Of course, the class list also includes Daniel Valentin-Morales who is on the light crew and also has a leading role in “Pygmalion” as snobbish speech professor Henry Higgins.

“I love all parts of theater and want to someday either perform or teach…or maybe go into journalism,” says the junior English-Theatre Arts double major from Frederick, Md.

Tomorrow, in rehearsal, Valentin-Morales will be Henry Higgins – but on this night he is a student, learning all that he can and eager to help Baldwin with lights.