The Pinnacle

Zenith. There has never been a show in my technical career that has taught me as many life lessons. Just thinking back to when my involvement began in tech theatre, it is almost impossible to imagine myself as the stage manager and being able to pull off a show of such a grand scale successfully without collapsing under the pressure.

When I first began tech as a freshman I didn't really have a clue about what the organization was or even what my full potential could have been. I wasn't sure where I would fit in, I didn't know a single thing about lighting or sound, I hardly spoke, and I was surprised at the amount of tools that there actually were. To be honest, when I first chose tech as an elective it was because I wanted a quick technology credit to graduate (Although I later realized that tech theatre never actually fulfilled a tech credit at the time). Most of that first year consisted of me just wanting to get through the class and get on with my high school life. However, that all changed when I signed up for Zenith at the end of freshman year. Up unto that point I had not worked a single production but felt as though I should sign up for at least one just to see what it was like before my year ended. I have never regretted that decision. My experience was, well, indescribable. Never had I understood the usefulness of the information I was learning in class until I went to my first rehearsal. Of course, I was still the quietest freshman you could imagine but that didn't deter students from helping and supporting me with whatever I was doing. The older students encouraged me throughout the show and let me know that whatever happened, as long as I did my best, that's what mattered. That experience is what gave me the push that I needed to choose to stay in tech. The valuable lessons I learned from that first show will remain a part of me throughout my entire career and probably the rest of my life.

Getting into my sophomore year, I began to get more involved and understand what the organization had to offer. That, I believe, was my year of firsts. That year was the first time I had touched a camera larger than my own camcorder. It was also the first time I had learned about lighting in the theatre which led to me being chosen to design the lights for "Simply the Best" at Zenith. When it was first suggested by Mr. Poole that I could potentially be a leader in the organization I was baffled. I was becoming more talkative but still hardly said anything more than a few sentences, and I certainly had no recollection of ever leading anything in my life. How could this one man believe that I could achieve anything in the field of leadership? Well, it has taken me months to realize it, but he was right. I love the thrill and challenge of being able to bring a group of forty or so people together and seeing everyone having a fantastic time while still putting on performances that seemingly only Broadway and Cirque can match.

The pinnacle of my junior year and really my entire time in tech theatre was being chosen by Mr. Poole to lead the crew for Zenith 2011. Stage managing Zenith was, to be honest, stressful at times being the main person that everyone would go to for answers. I now have a new appreciation for the many positions on the crew such as the follow spots and Pro Tools operators. My position allowed me to see everything that they did. Those forty crew members taught me that perfection may not always be possible, sometimes curveballs will be thrown in your direction, and that as long as you encourage each other and shrug off the misfortunes then the show will always continue. Being able to pull off three flawless performances was pretty phenomenal. In the end being able to go through this with my tech friends was what really made the experience that much greater. Truly, my experience stage managing Zenith taught me to listen to those who believe in me, trust them and believe in others. I learned how to lead and how to be led. I learned that by creating a positive and supporting environment, each crew member becomes an integral part of an unbelievably successful production.

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

-John Quincy Adams

-Cooper Ruff

Posted on May 9, 2011 .