Sophomore builds strong connections through tech

May 8, 2015 — by Gwynevere Hunger and Vibha Seshadri

Sophomore Gaya Chatterjee, then a freshman, settled into her seat in the McAfee Center, ready to see “Les Miserables.” Chatterjee watched intently as one of the characters, Fantine, sang her solo “I Dreamed a Dream.”

Sophomore Gaya Chatterjee, then a freshman, settled into her seat in the McAfee Center, ready to see “Les Miserables.” Chatterjee watched intently as one of the characters, Fantine, sang her solo “I Dreamed a Dream.” Yet, as she enjoyed the show, some questions lingered in her mind. How was the set made? How was all the sound so in sync with the characters’ actions?

At the end of the show, those questions, and not the catchy tunes of the musical, were what stuck with Chatterjee.

“I was always interested in what happened behind the scenes,” she said. “I wanted to know how things suddenly appeared on stage and how the lights changed colors when an actor said a specific line.”

Following her interest last year, Chatterjee was introduced to senior Melissa Rogan, the coordinator between the stage technician crew and cast during SHS productions. After that meeting, Chatterjee joined the tech crew and has since worked on  “The Matchmaker” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” as well as three original student productions.

“There wasn't really a test [to join tech] except that I needed to be comfortable working with power tools,” Chatterjee said. “I was taught everything when I got there.”

Chatterjee enrolled in the seventh-period Stage Tech and Design elective that is taught by drama teacher Sarah Thermond and assisted by Adrian Stapleton, the McAfee’s manager.

As part of the tech team, which has anywhere between four to seven people at a time, Chatterjee has worked in both set design and the audio and lighting team. For the recent spring musical “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Chatterjee was the head audio operator.

Her job required her to equip everyone with microphones and ensure that all microphones worked correctly. According to Chatterjee, there is not a set method for doing so, as perfecting the noise level requires trial and error. Stapleton guided Chatterjee and the crew during this time.

Chatterjee’s has become a key member of the tech crew this year. In the two weeks leading up to any show, Chatterjee spends around eight hours after school at rehearsals, paying attention to each actor so she can figure out the best way to balance the audio with the other elements of the show.

I get to add microphones onto everyone and make sure their mics are working and that the orchestra is not too loud,” Chatterjee said.

Though Chatterjee enjoys all parts of tech, she described set building as her favorite work-related aspect of tech. She still recalls when the tech team built a small-sized box for the set of “The Matchmaker.”

In order to complete the box, which only had three sides initially, a member of the tech crew had to crawl into the tiny, pitch-black box and figure out how to fit the fourth wall on. The rest of the crew cheered on the member and as they laughed at the hilarity of the moment.

The unity Chatterjee felt in a moment like that explains why she enjoys tech so much.

My favorite part about tech has probably been the relationship I have developed with the other students I work with,” Chatterjee said. “We have become really close, and I enjoy their friendship. I've been given the opportunity to make friends with people whom I never would have [met] if I hadn’t joined tech.”

Along with building friendships with her peers, Chatterjee has enjoyed working  with Stapleton, who has inspired her to try new aspects of the tech field.

“One thing that Adrian always told me was not to be afraid to try something new,” Chatterjee said. “He'd say that if you ever get offered a gig working something you don't know how to do, take the job anyway and in between the time you got the job and the time the gig opens, learn how to do it and pull it off like you always knew how to in the first place.”

The crew also gets a chance to bond with Stapleton during a special tech tradition of barbeques before every large  production. After long rehearsals that last from the end of school to10 p.m., Stapleton brings students barbeque to ensure that they all have dinner. The food at this tradition is not limited to barbeque; it also includes a wide variety of foods for all students to savor.

Before the event, the crew sets up cutlery and drinks outside, while others are in the green room cutting vegetables.

“These meals gives us a chance to all sit together and talk about how our day has been going and to catch up,” Chatterjee said. “It gives us a chance to connect again.”

Due to her experiences on the school’s tech team, Chatterjee is considering pursuing tech outside of high school. Although she is not yet set on this career path, she lists it as one of her top options.

Then, it’s no surprise that Chatterjee is already well on her way toward pursuing such a career: Chatterjee is on the school’s payroll, which allows her to work as a paid stage technician for non-school related performances, such as lectures or recitals in the McAfee.

“If I were to pursue tech, it would be because it’s something that I love, and it's something that I'm really good at,” Chatterjee said. “We'll just have to see where things go.”

1 view this week