TEC 101

By: Isaac Frost

A couple weeks ago, we hosted TEC 101 here at the PAC. For those who have never attended, allow me to explain: TEC 101 is an opportunity for members old and new to meet in a friendly and fun environment while also getting hands-on experience with the equipment. For many younger members, this is their first chance to get involved with the TEC program outside of the classroom.

Regrettably, I didn't attend this event as a freshman but I've made sure not to miss a chance like this again. I had very different experiences each time I went. As a sophomore, I already knew most of the freshman; however as a junior, I saw numerous unfamiliar faces. Regardless of my age, I always look forward to TEC 101 as an opportunity to meet new people and learn something new.


Immediately after school, more than fifty TEC members gathered backstage to socialize and enjoy some snacks. After meeting with each other we broke the ice with a few activities to bring the group together then sat down in the theater to watch our Mission Statement Video. This video features several members of the TEC program and demonstrates the values that we strive to live by within the organization every day. From there, we split up into small groups and visited various stations inside the Concert Hall. These stations included audio, conventional lights, moving lights, camera and video production. All the stations were led by the TEC Officers and gave the younger members unique opportunities such as designing their own light look or hearing their favorite song on the PA system.

I taught the moving lights station, a unique opportunity considering the fact that we generally only use the moving lights rig for larger events in the PAC. This was also a chance me to brush up on the Hog (the moving light console) myself. As I discussed the functions of the board and our rig of light, I could see the curiosity in everyone’s eyes. This is what inspires me to continue with TEC. I get to see the future of the generations rise up and take their place like I am now. I can't help but think back to when I had an older member teaching me these things, and it makes me think just how old I am.  

For the younger members, TEC 101 is seen as a chance to meet some people as well as get some hands-on experience with the equipment, but for me, for the older members: TEC 101 is an amazing opportunity to see the future of this organization. We'll just have to wait and see where the newer members take TEC in the next few years.


Rick Riordan Visits Westlake

By: Carter Gehm

The famous author of the Percy Jackson series, Rick Riordan, visited Westlake High School for a day of signing and speaking in celebration of his new book, The Blood of Olympus. Over 1,100 people attended the event to receive a signed copy of Riordan's new book, some coming from as far as Mexico! Riordan spoke to the crowd about his writing history, his new books as well as his inspiration. I was one of the lucky few who had the privilege of working the event from behind the scenes, directly with Riordan. I was given the opportunity to see how Book People runs a book signing event in which we helped Riordan sign over 1,200 copies of his new book in under 30 minutes. We all shook his hand and discussed our favorite books of his. It was one of the most memorable events I have worked because of the huge influence his books had on my childhood.

Video Crew Training 2014

By: Audrey Bertin

Every summer, several weeks before the start of the school year, 23 dedicated members of the Westlake Technical Entertainment Crew meet to begin preparation for broadcasting the Chaps' varsity football games throughout the season on Time Warner Cable.
The students selected to participate in this program are recruited months in advance and must be completely dedicated to the task of producing broadcasts comparable in quality to those of professional television networks. Crew members are typically expected to dedicate three nights each week to preparing for and carrying out the video broadcasts. Just like the football team, as well as groups like Hyline, the marching band, and cheerleaders, we are often pulled out of class early on Fridays when we are traveling to an away game.
I came into the program for the first time this summer with a basic understanding of the basic operations of the Television Broadcast Crew. I was assigned, along with another newcomer, to the tasks of video engineering and cmoputer graphics. I understood the general idea behind my position, but my knowledge more or less ended there. Still, I was amazed when I walked into the Performing Arts Center on the first day of training to learn just how much was involved in broadcasting live football.
We began the first day with a brief history of the program, followed by seemingly endless hours learning the specifics of football, camera operation, and the layout of the facility from which we would broadcast home games. By the end of the day, my head was spinning and I was exhausted. Would I be able to make it through the week? I felt like I could really use a time out.
The next day was more of the same, but we started delving into the individual roles given to different crew members. Each of us learned what the other members were doing in order to better understand how we would fit into the big picture. Things became progressively easier as the week went on.
It was incredible to see the transformation of all the new members, myself included, happen so quickly, going from wide-eyed novice to confident team member. Because there were more new, inexperienced crew members this year than there have been in recent years, there was some concern about whether the group would be able to function as smoothly as in previous seasons. With that thought looming in the back of their minds, the team leaders of video crew were pleasantly surprised to find the opposite of what they had feared. By the end of the first week of training, although they had only just put their toes in the water, the new camera operators looked confident and capable. I, myself, went from knowing almost nothing to being able to take a camera output signal that had purposefully been altered to settings at wildly inappropriate levels, determine what was wrong, and remotely adjust the camera settings to obtain a high quality, visually pleasing image. 
At that point, summer training was almost over and I had to spend the next week mentally preparing myself to tackle the season opener, scheduled for Friday of the first week of school. Hopefully I would be able to take the new skills I had learned and contribute to a great first broadcast!
All in all, I had a great experience this summer transitioning to being a member of the Television Broadcast Crew. One of the most valuable lessons I learned was the importance of teamwork for the success of the program. If any one person is not giving their best effort to help the rest of the group, the end result suffers. Without the dedication and commitment of everyone involved, it would be impossible for us to do what makes us so successful: putting on professional quality television broadcasts to entertain the dedicated fans of Chaps' football.

Head Grip for Zenith

By: Jacob Rogers

When I was first confronted about the idea of being Head Grip for Zenith, I was terrified. The thought of being responsible for an eleven person crew was scary enough, not to mention the additional responsibility of all the props and equipment that had to move on and off stage during the show. I nervously accepted the challenge after some encouragement from Mr. Poole, and my experiences from that show became some of my most memorable and rewarding in TEC.

Zenith taught me more than I ever imagined about the value of leadership, trust and passion. It gave me the opportunity to grow as a person and a leader, and prepared me for my upcoming senior year. Leadership is much more than being in charge and giving out orders. It includes building the knowledge and confidence of your crew and being a positive role model. During our pre-show meetings, leadership is often called the "glue" that holds our organization together. Strong leaders are imperative to the success of any major production, including Zenith, but leadership isn't limited to the crew heads. Any crew member, regardless of age or position, can exhibit leadership qualities at any time. Even during seemingly trivial set changes, I was always watching my crew members, waiting to see who would take charge. Whether it be rolling the piano on-stage, changing shinbuster gel colors, or even just doing homework backstage, I always enjoyed seeing someone rise to the occasion and take ownership of the task at hand. 

With a sophisticated show like Zenith, the grip crew was constantly moving props and equipment on and off stage, so delegation was important in order to take care of the scene changes as quickly and efficiently as possible. It didn’t take long for me to realize how important trust and delegation were to the success of the show. With the amount of moving parts on-stage, there was no way for me to oversee everything going on at once, so I had to trust that the grip crew was following along and ready for whatever came next. At first, this was hard for me. I wanted to personally supervise everything that was going on and help wherever I could, but after a couple long and stressful rehearsals, I realized that it wasn’t necessary.  Trust started to grow within the crew and they constantly impressed me with their preparedness and hard-work. This trust led to a much smoother, calmer show because everyone could focus on their own responsibilities without worrying about everyone else’s.

While leadership is the glue that holds TEC together, passion is the motivation to keep moving forward and improving. Passion is what kept us going during the long rehearsals and late nights. Passion is the motivation to put on a successful show. Without passion, the show would seem half-hearted and boring. Whether that motivation came from the competitiveness within the grip crew or just a desire to put on the best show yet, I found that passion was, without a doubt, the most important contributor to a great show. It’s what kept us striving for perfection during the long rehearsals and it paid off in the end after three great shows for the Zenith audiences.

In conclusion, Zenith this year gave me the opportunity to grow as a person and a leader. It was challenging at times but more importantly, it taught me more than I ever imagined about the value of leadership, trust and passion and provided me with memories that I will cherish forever.

West Side Story: Expecting the Unexpected

By: Irena Martinez

Earlier this semester, I had the privilege of stage managing this year's musical: West Side Story. Stage managing was certainly an experience I never expected to have. I joined TEC as a sophomore, a year later than most, and always felt like it was too late to be considered to stage manage. Usually, a small group of students are chosen as underclassmen then tested and trained to determine whether or not they would be a suitable stage manager for a future major production. This usually makes it clear who will be stage managing what shows throughout the year. This fact led me to assume any hopes of stage managing a major production were shot, as I was a senior who had no prior experience of any kind.

The day I found out about stage managing was towards the end of December, while at dinner with a few TEC members and alumni. The alumni were asking who was stage managing the musical. We were all curious since no one knew except Feroz. After a bit of pestering, Feroz caved in and pointed at the stage manager. I followed his finger expecting it to be someone else, but he was pointing at me. I could only think "What? I'm stage managing? Me? That makes no sense at all." But, it was true. I had been chosen.

I may never know exactly what I did to earn this position, but I can tell you one thing. The last day of Nutcracker: December 14th, 2013, sparked a chain reaction that changed everything.

During Nutcracker, I was positioned as the head of grip crew. As a crew head, I took my duties list as well as the previous year's notes and did my best to ensure that my crew was taken care of and that the production ran as smoothly as possible. That night, I was chosen as the best crew head, an award whose recipient is voted on by their fellow crew heads. I was ecstatic to say the least. That energy drove me through a fantastic final show after which we began strike*, as always. I was on autopilot, my sole mission to get the crew dismissed as quickly as humanly possible. Suddenly, my name was called out over radio. I found the voice's owner surrounded by a small group of parents. The adults turned to look at me, bearing a look upon their faces that no one should ever witness. A look that guaranteed one thing and one thing only: something horrible had taken place.

They told me something happened to my mom. My heart sank. Every possible worst-case scenario raced through my mind. Seeing how panicked I had become, they escorted me to the office for some privacy and told me everything. My mom had a major seizure while in Houston and was hospitalized. She was transported there via ambulance from a nearby restaurant where the seizure had taken place. The doctors had determined that the seizure was caused by cherry-sized mass found in her right frontal lobe (later removed and diagnosed as malignant - stage four glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer). At this point, everything felt uncertain, but one thing was clear, I was in no shape to continue the strike.

After going to a friend's house, I was able to calm down and collect my thoughts. I happened to remember that the admissions decisions for MIT Early Action applicants had coincidentally come out on December 14th as well. Initially, I refused to look, but it honestly felt like the night couldn't get any worse, so why not just get it over with? I was expecting the typical "you've been rejected"  spiel, but got this instead:

(Insert top of decision portal letter)

It took me a few reads to really grasp the message hidden within the text. I thought I had read it wrong until my friend started screaming and hugged me, causing a ruckus that surprisingly did not wake her family up. It turns out that MIT really liked something about me and chose me as one of their 618 Early Action admits out of the 6,820 applicants.

Who knew so much could happen in one day? December 14th, 2013 was both the best and worst day of my life so far. Definitely a weird day. So weird, that I wouldn't think it possible if I hadn't lived it myself.

These past couple of months, so much has changed and, at times, it's been overwhelming. At first, Mr. Poole and I wondered if it would be wise for me to take on such an intensive role for the musical. My mom was sick and I needed to take care of both her and myself. However, before we even considered any alternatives, more people than I can name began taking care of us, making it possible for me to focus my extra energy on stage managing. I can never thank those people enough.

Though I was wary coming into stage managing a massive production like West Side Story, it was definitely worthwhile. I've seen my friends stage manage before, but I still wasn't exactly sure what to expect. It's just one of those things you can't grasp until you've done it yourself. The most obvious thing a stage manager does is call cues from the cue book. Simple enough, right? Well, not exactly. You have to construct each statement in a way that conveys you are sure of yourself and always be prepared for what's coming up next. If the cue, follow spot, scene change, or sound effect doesn't go off, it's not the operator's fault -- it's yours. That's the toughest lesson to learn. It's so easy to be frustrated with someone else for not being ready, but it was ultimately your responsibility to make them ready. It's not possible for your crew to memorize an entire script and the cues that coincide with it in a week (or ever, really). As the stage manager, you have the only copy with light cues that's in use, so you have to help your crew out. Also, you have to remember what's really important. An early light cue isn't the end of the world. Chances are no one even noticed anyway. The most important thing is your crew. Are they having fun? Staying healthy? Doing their homework? Of course, you can't possibly monitor forty people and take care of all of the behind the scenes logistics, let alone yourself, without some help.

Fortunately, I had just the right people. Each crew was headed by one of my closest friends and the effect on the production itself was fascinating. This show was unique because it ran so smoothly both in a technical sense and within the crew. In the face of uncertainty, this show was something that could be certain. I'm grateful to have just been a part of it.

-Irena Martinez

*strike is the process of taking apart the set after a production has ended.

From Fearful to Fearless

I will never forget the pressure of standing in my first pre-show meeting. The person on my left began to speak. I hoped that they would speak forever, my cheeks burning as I scrambled internally to come up with a good answer to the circle question. But he soon concluded, and my heart stopped. My turn. Eighty-something eyes shifted to look at me. Sweating, I answered with a shaky voice, stuttering a bit. I wanted to sink into the floor. 

And then - everybody clapped. Genuinely. They weren't even making fun of me. What?

The mutual respect between the students of the Technical Entertainment Crew and the way that they support each other is my favorite part of this program. The advanced equipment in the PAC makes it possible to put on amazing productions, but the student team working together is what pulls all those elements together into something spectacular - like the Nutcracker Spectacular. 

One could argue that TEC never stops planning for the Nutcracker Spectacular, since we think of ways to improve for the next year while the show is running. Technically, the process fully kicks into gear in the summer, when we start to look for sponsorships. Soon we move into the fall, sending email blasts and running commercials to sell tickets, and then, at the start of winter, the show opens. The weeks pass by in a flurry of builds and poster-hanging sessions. Before we know it, TEC's biggest production is in tech rehearsals. 

Time flies faster than ever before when you're a senior. With all of the reflecting on the past and planning for the future, the present passes by right under your nose. I was affected no differently. Before I knew it, it was time for me to stage manage the 9th annual Nutcracker Spectacular. 

I'd been preparing for the position of stage manager for weeks, thinking about the timing of cues and how I would lead the crew. My mind kept going back to the upperclassmen that had influenced me in the past and what made their leadership so effective. Even though they had graduated and were gone, I still looked up to them and wanted to fill their shoes. On my first show, upperclassmen immediately took me under their wing. First, they taught me how to operate the light board, so I would know how to do my job. More importantly, through constant encouragement, they gave me the confidence to handle my responsibility. It didn't stop at the end of the show. The more involved I got with TEC and the more I got to know the people in it, the more confident and resilient I grew. My experiences over my four years in TEC prepared me to stage manage the entire time, as I imagined being in the upperclassmen's place and learned from their leadership to gradually rise to it. I needed to pass on that favor by ensuring that everyone on the Nutcracker crew had a positive experience. 

As stage manager, I had to learn quickly to take charge of a situation. Leadership positions are earned. I had to earn the trust and respect of the crew by always being decisive and aware and conducting myself assuredly. I also needed to encourage the members of the crew to lead me - we relied on each other to keep track of certain details. To my dismay, I couldn't be everywhere at once, and neither could my mind. Many leaders are necessary to cover the bases. So, one of the most important parts of a leader's job is to create other leaders by instilling confidence in them with guidance and support, and then stepping back to let them take charge themselves. 

The best place for that to happen is the pre-show circle. It's a completely safe and accepting environment where the entire crew comes together to focus on putting on a successful production. When each member thinks about how they can embody professionalism, leadership, camaraderie, and fun, all of the pieces will fall into place. The stage manager asks a pre-show question to inspire everybody to think about one or more of these elements individually and to show them that it's safe and good to speak up and share what is on their mind. 

On opening night, I read my first question aloud in a clear, firm voice and passed it off to travel all the way around. Looking around the circle, I was transported back to all the others that I had stood in before. Four years ago, I was terrified to even say a word in front of a group of people. The idea of leading them, guiding them, reminding them what to do? Forget it. 

I still find it hard to believe that I have changed so much but it's not so unbelievable when I think about all of the learning experiences I've had on productions. TEC has taught me to take risks, rise to responsibility, and not to be afraid of making mistakes. In a few years, some of the blushing, sweaty people that were in that circle will look back and think the same thing.

-Kara Fox

An Interview with Andrew Keegan

Late last month, I had the privilege of interviewing 2002 TEC alum Andrew Keegan. 
Currently, Andrew is a Lighting Director and Producer for film and television in New York City. 
At only thirty years old, he is a respected professional and has worked with NBC, CNN, MTV, 
Sesame Street, and Nickelodeon to produce over forty shows. Andrew even went to the Beijing 
Olympics and was awarded an Emmy nomination for his work.
In 2006, not one week after graduating from college, Andrew began lighting national 
television. Only four years prior, he was with TEC on a television set in Los Angeles looking at 
thousands of lights in the rig, thinking, "people must have to wait decades to be a part of this."
Andrew's career really began back in high school with our very own Westlake Technical 
Entertainment Crew, working every show he could from rentals to Zenith. Andrew collaborated 
with Mr. Poole to create a balanced life with school work, lacrosse, and TEC. Mr. Poole was 
always accommodating and remains, to this day, "a good friend and mentor" to Andrew. In 
retrospect, Andrew "wishes he could have been more involved," but still, TEC helped him pave
his way to success by teaching him the necessity of "persistence, hard work, and understanding
the bigger picture."

Andrew was accepted into many college programs. He chose to continue his studies at 
Sonoma State University. He went in looking to major in lighting design, but ultimately became 
a "BA in theater as opposed to just lighting." His education provided a method for him to really 
grasp a real world sense of productions: "No one understands a deadline like a theater major. 
You can't push back deadlines. You have to get it done."
It takes more than being aware of deadlines to become successful. It takes this kind of 
passion or drive that sets you apart from everyone else. For Andrew, this was creating content. 
In the theater world, you can take internships, but in the end "you are only as good as your 
portfolio." Employers "only look at your resume for five seconds. What does your content say 
about you?"

Andrew is naturally a producer. It's his job to find ideas and make them a reality. This 
seems like a lot of work, but in actuality all he had to do was go to the English, 
Communications, and Theater departments to find other students and create any kind of film. 
No matter the size or success level of the production, everyone involved has not only made 
connections and gained experience, but has also built up credibility. This may not seem 
like "usual" work for a lighting designer, but this work set Andrew apart. He always asked "What 
can I do for you?" and continually opened himself up to new opportunities.
Andrew's final advice: "Never stop creating content. Never stop. The more content you 
make, the better your skills will get. Keep learning new devices and software that come out. 
Never ever ever stop. Go make a short film. It's easy. Use your software. It doesn't matter 
where you go to school. Your content is you. Your reel is who you are. If you have a great reel, 
people will be climbing over themselves trying to get you. Never stop creating."

-Irena Martinez

All Roads Lead to Rome

 This past spring a group of forty-one TEC students and chaperones traveled to
one of the most beautiful countries in the world, Italy. Among those forty-one individuals
was me. Before the Italy trip, I had never traveled out of the country. I hadn't traveled at
all, really. But, I've got to say, it was worth the wait.
After deciding this year's TEC trip would be to Italy, the officers planned events
that would help us get there including the Westlake Marching Festival and the
Nutcracker Spectacular. As the departure date approached, everything seemed to fall
into place.
        The Wednesday before we were to leave, we were presented with an
unexpected dilemma: our flight had been canceled. Though many were disappointed,
Mr. Poole, TEC students, and our travel agents spent hours on end with the airline and
our Italian tour guide. After much persistence, we finally constructed a solution.
        There were to be three traveling groups, two leaving on Friday and one on
Saturday. The Saturday group and one of the Friday groups drove to Houston and
departed from there. My group, one of the two departing on Friday, flew out of the
Austin Airport. This arrangement was much appreciated and, thankfully, all three groups
were reunited in Italy.

        Once in Italy, we traveled to many cities including Rome, Florence, Maranello,
Venice, Verona, and Milan. I couldn't say which city was my favorite. Each one provided
unique memories and a distinct culture that I will remember forever.
         The first day in Rome, as we waited to reunite with the Saturday group, we took
a comprehensive walking tour of Rome. Everything we saw was impressive and
historically significant, but then came the storm. Few people anticipated the possibility
of rain, and so some of us did not bring their umbrellas, myself included. Within a matter
of minutes, almost all of our group members were completely drenched as we trudged
through the racing waters of the streets of Rome.
        The next day turned out to be beautiful, still slightly damp, but beautiful none-the-
less. At lunch, a small group of us broke off and wandered the streets looking for a bite
to eat. That is when we heard a man shouting at us, "Free Pizza! Free Pizza!" He had
certainly gotten our attention, so we decided to investigate. He immediately began to
set up chairs for us while feeding us small samples of pizza. It was quite refreshing to
meet an individual who was authentically Italian. He treated us well, giving us a good-
sized pizza and a soda. As we left, he handed us small sheets of paper with a link to his
shop's Facebook page, asking us to like it.

        On our final day in Italy, we finally arrived at our long-awaited destination, La
Scala Opera House. We were given a tour of both the museum and the opera house.
Within the museum, we observed countless artifacts that were owned by some of the
attendees and composers from La Scala's prime. Those objects were indeed
magnificent, but after visiting a myriad of museums all week, the opera house itself was
far more fascinating. La Scala had been recently renovated and all of their equipment
was state-of-the-art. The entire stage could not only be rotated, but also completely
replaced by a different stage hidden below. This feature was absolutely incredible and I
had never seen anything like it. However, one of my favorite features was La
Scala's "tech tables." In TEC, we use a few black tables for rehearsals that we normally
have to pull out of storage. La Scala's tech tables, however, rose up from a hidden
panel in the ground. I was amazed to see a nearly identical version and setup of the
tables, something our organization uses quite frequently, actually being used in the
professional setting.

        While in Italy, our group of TEC students and chaperones had many planned and
unplanned adventures. Something about this trip changed our group. Perhaps it was
the hours of bus rides to and from different cities or the countless tours of museums.
Regardless, this trip helped build new friendships, strengthened old ones, and lived up
to the TEC mission statement. Leadership allowed us to get there. Camaraderie made it
meaningful. And we certainly did have a lot of fun.

-Irena Martinez

Music Man Audio

If you were to ask me about my most memorable moment in TEC, I would describe my experience heading up audio for the 2013 musical, The Music Man. In a job that required a considerable amount of focus for the entirety of the performance, one would think that the stress of managing 43 miked actors, a 12 piece orchestra, and numerous sound effect cues might have knocked this particular experience out of the runnings.  Interestingly, I felt that this challenge not only encouraged a growth in my technical knowledge but instilled vastly greater self-confidence in me as the production advanced.

  The Music Man represented a monumental step for me in the areas of said self-confidence and more importantly self-esteem that I will never forget. Going into that first tech rehearsal, I feared that I would not be able to continue the tradition of excellent sound quality and consistency during the musical.  What my crew and I quickly realized was that with constant focus, attention to detail, and most importantly, a passion for our jobs, success was inevitable. It highlighted one of the most important things I have ever learned about TEC, and made it easy to see why it is such a popular club. It’s common knowledge to even the newest TEC members how easy it is to fall in love with this organization and its associated culture and  group of friends. Stepping back as a now older member, it’s amazing to see the immediate effect on 9th graders working their first productions as they quickly assimilate into the TEC community. 

In short, through the Music Man I found that success begets success. Success leads to a passion for one's work creating such a personal commitment and investment into a job that an immense quality of work is put out. Mr. Poole and members of TEC who came long before me noticed this as well, and worked hard to ingrain it into the TEC culture. They found that the easiest way to get younger members truly dedicated was to enable them to be valuable and successful components of the productions. Each crew member is always put into a position in which they can succeed, and are allowed to grow into their respective positions until it isn't the staff member or crew head pushing them to do better work, but themselves, for the sake of the production, and for the sake of the other TEC members on the crew. It’s what keeps the younger members coming back, and in this particular case it’s what made this year’s audio team so successful. It goes without saying that a significant amount of time goes into training and coaching for all positions by staff members and crew heads alike, so that every person on the crew can experience the feeling of ownership, pride, and sincere respect for the outcome of the show.

I joined this organization for the high-tech aspects of our theater but like many, I stayed for greatly different reasons. For the graduating seniors of TEC there is so much more to them in the people, the relationships, and the marks they leave behind on members like me or you. Passing on the tips and tricks that the seniors have picked up over the 4 years of high school doesn't come as burdensome for them. They do not desire success for themselves, but success for  the future and continuing members of TEC who will never stop raising this organization to greater heights, by promoting leadership, camaraderie, and fun.

-Feroz James

Leadership: NCS

Nutcracker Stage Management
            Ask any TEC alum from the Westlake High School Technical Entertainment Crew if their experience in this organization had a positive on them. Universally, the answer would be yes. From stage managing to running a follow spot, from audio mixing to grip, the experience that students receive from TEC is unique, regardless of position on shows.  Since I was a sophomore working my first major production (The Nutcracker) I have absorbed all of the benefits that TEC has to offer. I have grown personally during each and every production that I have worked. Whether my position was being a crew head, on a crew, or just helping during the builds I have always noticed a positive influence on my skills as a leader, friend and mentor, along with the many others around me. Having put so much hard work into this organization, I was rewarded with quite the peculiar position. A position I would never have thought I would achieve. I was put in charge of stage managing the 2012 Nutcracker Spectacular.
Upon first glance it looks like the stage manager's only job is to call the cues of the show and coordinate the members of the running crew to put on an amazing production. In reality it is a much more involved position on both a personal and technical level. It is a position that involves charisma, focus, and patience. All of these aspects collide creating a characteristic of every great stage manager-- a leader. A leader who bears the responsibility of the mistakes during a show, the responsibility of motivating and inspiring the crew, tired and exhausted after a week of rehearsals and late nights, and above all, the responsibility to rise to the occasion and make it all happen. Leadership is the life-blood of our organization.
TEC manages to bring out the traits and skills in people never believed to be strongly. In my Nutcracker experience as stage manager I looked at a show that I would have to shape, a crew that I would have to lead and get working together in such a tight fashion that to anyone else it may look like we had been working together for years, and put it all together in less than a week. I feel that as a stage manager I did my job, keeping the show and crew together despite the long hours of hard work and sleep deprivation we all felt. I learned what I could accomplish during this Nutcracker and I am so happy to be passing the torch to the next stage manager who will lead a different crew into a new Nutcracker next year. 
Going back to that original statement, if you asked any person who was lucky to go through TEC if it made a positive difference on their lives, I can say without a doubt that this experience in stage managing has affected me, changed me, made me better because of it. I could say the same thing for all of the people that were on the crew for the 2012 Nutcracker Spectacular. In light of all this, the feeling of success, the feeling of growth, and the feeling of leadership, TEC is still a mystical thing to me in some ways. It's easy to see how it affects people, but it still leaves me dumbfounded that it is all possible at a high school level. I can't begin to imagine how much the program will grow in the years to come and how future stage managers will rise to the occasion and leave their footprint in the sandbox of productions that we put on as a team. I do know, however, that no matter how the shows change, in either complexity or size,  TEC will always create members who will take ownership of them and adapt to any new challenges that are thrown at them.
t the end of the day this is how I see TEC, I see a community that makes leaders. I am proud to have learned from leaders before me, to be a leader, to have taught lessons to some of the younger students, and to now be able to sit back and watch a whole new wave of leaders arise to the challenges of the world. The real world is not always a friendly place. Values that should matter don't always come through in society, but I know for sure that TEC will be putting not only leaders, but good and genuine people into our society that really do make the world a better place to live in. That is what really matters, that is why TEC is special, and that is why I wanted to be a stage manager-- I wanted to lead and become a better person because of it.

-Kyle Franklin

Who Brought Me to TEC?


"The Westlake Technical Entertainment Crew works together to put on professional level productions while promoting leadership, camaraderie, and fun."

That is the Westlake TEC mission statement. Believe it or not, there is a lot of meaning behind these words to me, and to the other members of this expansive organization. Westlake TEC was not created just to put on productions, or to teach people more about Technical Theatre. Instead, the goal of TEC was to create an environment and atmosphere that promoted friendship and camaraderie between students that strive to better prepare themselves for the outside world.

In any high school it's hard to find serious students, but to find students that will end up doing jobs and completing tasks on a professional level is even harder. I think that the relationships made in TEC are the only reason we are successful and full capable of creating magic year after year in each and every one of our major productions.

Every year, TEC loses some of its most valuable assets, the seniors of the crew. The seniors of TEC, the leaders, the ones who knew it all, and the friends that leave every year stay in our memories forever. Most times, you never end up seeing these role models again, and in some cases they are even some of the most influential people in our lives. What keeps this organization afloat, however, is the fact that every year we gain new members, excited to get involved and ready to learn. 

"Moving on is simple. It's what we leave behind that's hard."

Last year I was new to the whole TEC thing and the high school experience. One of the first few people I met through TEC was a senior by the name of Julie Maury. Naturally I was so nervous with the unfamiliar environment around me, but Julie was so nice that I felt I could immediately trust her. In a very short amount of time we became friends and she is just one of the many people I met in TEC that I will stay in touch with for the rest of my life.

There have been plenty of other seniors and underclassmen that I have become great friends with, but Julie was one that really stood out. In any case, I love TEC,  I can't imagine my life without it, and the people I have met through it.

-Grayson Rosato

Wilbur to Wonka

As Wilbur the pig pranced around on the stage, I swung my dangling feet back and forth above the ground and looked around the dark theater. I looked at the ladder built into the set; I looked at the squirming kids across from me. I looked everywhere except at the scene going on below, when I noticed some dim light coming from higher up the wall. I turned and squinted, and saw three high school students wearing headsets. They looked so big and important! I watched them for a few minutes, until Fern's yelling pulled my short attention span back to the play.

At the end of the show, the lights came up, and we were ushered away in the direction of our buses. I snuck another look at the people in what I would later learn to be the control booth. A boy waved at me. I smiled shyly and followed my class out.
It was the children's show in the Black Box Theatre - Charlotte's Web that year - and I was a third grader. In what felt like only five seconds later, I was a freshman in high school, facing a crew sign-up sheet on the call board. The children's show? I could be one of those kids up there! I didn't waste any time in writing my name down.

Soon after, the official crew was selected and the list was posted - I was assigned the job of sound board operator for The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon. It was my first taste of TEC. I met and learned from younger members and upperclassmen alike, and I played back all of the show's sound cues without problems. Once I started, I wasn't going to stop. I worked Zenith, then joined the leadership team, then the Chaparral Stadium Video Crew and worked every PAC production my sophomore year. I was hooked.

Fast-forward to junior year, where I found myself back in the Black Box as the stage manager for Willy Wonka. This show was the longest running in TEC's history, with a total of nine shows, had the largest cast of any Black Box Theater show with almost 40 cast members, and even brought in several elementary students from across the district. For a lack of a better description, it was a big production!

To top it all off, we had a smaller-than-usual crew. However, everyone rose to the challenge and was on top of their jobs, taking notes to help them improve and constantly teaching each other. One TEC member who wasn’t originally on the crew stepped up at the last minute to fill the position of a student who got sick, emulating the camaraderie and leadership outlined in the mission statement by being there when needed and doing what others might not be willing to do. Together, we put on nine great shows, each one better than the last.

Honestly, I was a little nervous to stage manage - what if I messed up the whole show? But during the three rehearsals before opening night, and in the days of the shows after, I asked questions, I took notes, and I remembered the examples set by all the stage managers before me - the same things I had done on all of the shows I'd worked no matter what position I was in. Then, when opening night came, all I could do was my best and trust in the crew.

One of the most important lessons I learned from this experience was that part of being a leader is knowing when to step back and be a follower. With all of the different elements that make up a show, it's impossible for one person to do everything. Specialization makes every part of the show the best that it can possibly be instead of having many people’s focus and knowledge spread too thinly over everything. For the scene changes this show, the stagehands figured out what worked best for them and wrote their own notes instead of me micro managing them from the control booth. Because they were constantly moving the set, they were able to troubleshoot and make changes much better than I would be able to make. Being the stage manager doesn't mean being the person that is in charge of everything. It means being the person that calls the cues. Everything else is being a leader, which everyone on a crew has the potential to be. Everyone can offer encouragement, propose solutions to a problem, follow rules and safety protocol, and embody professionalism, teamwork, camaraderie, and fun. By acknowledging that everybody on the crew is a leader - no matter the magnitude or number of their responsibilities - no one is above anybody else. Every job is equally important. The members of a crew learn from each other and work together, not on different levels based on perceived rank. This dynamic leads to successful productions and contributed to the improvement and eventual accomplishment of this show.

fter the conclusion of the ninth curtain call and the final call of the last light cue, I stood up from my stack of textbooks (I was too short to see the stage without them) and happily started discussing how well the show went with the light and sound board operators - my coworkers, and friends - while watching all of the kids exit the theater. Some were chattering excitedly; some were waiting patiently, still and quiet. A few were staring intently up at us.
So I waved.

-Kara Fox

Tough Nut to Crack

I do not dance much myself, but the Nutcracker was an extravaganza that compels even the weak knee or less capable dancer to remain engaged, enthralled by every movement of the production. From beginning to end, the program was interwoven with dancers, musicians, sets, multiple costume changes, extraordinary lighting and sound with over two hundred people involved.

My place in all of this you might ask? I was the Stage Manager. First of all, let me say the event ran December 9th and 10th, 2011 with two performances each day. I began working on the production during last May of 2011. As the lead Stage Manager I was responsible for the Technical Entertainment Crew (TEC) communications and instructions. A Stage Manager is also responsible for what is referred to as “calling cues.” As an example, when the orchestra needs to be muted and the lights need to change operation (come up), then it is my job to see that the instructions for every coming and going to that effect happens correctly and specifically on time. An event of this magnitude requires over 300 cues and a well-defined script that has been rehearsed countless times. Independently, I lost track of the number of hours I put into my position; as a crew we rehearsed well over 30 hours. When you are in the trenches with a vision of what needs to happen, you do not think about the amount of time, just the end desired result.

Even though the production started back in May of 2011, it began for me as a Freshman entering the Technical Entertainment Crew. That first year, I was not involved much at all. I evolved as a capable TEC member, but began very timidly; totally lacking any self confidence. Additionally, Ihad to learn to communicate with people that were sometimes quite different from myself. I made new friends in the crew, but primarily built scenery and learned the “lay of the land.” Moving on to my sophomore year, it was completely different. I was placed on multiple crews for major events; including “fly.” This is where scenery is dropped in and out as needed. I was allowed to participate on Nutcracker, Musical, and Zenith. Sophomores are not typically involved in all three events. During my Junior year, again I participated in all three. However, for Nutcracker I was Assistant Stage Manager and I was truly stumped. Basically, I was there to serve as a liaison and address conflicts while calling a few cues at the end. Musical that year presented a new challenge as I served as “house sound.” This leadership role provided me the opportunity to serve all the microphones for the production at varied levels and needs. Zenith allowed me to be the Assistant Technical Director. I was assigned to Mr. Poole and assisted Cooper Ruff, the Stage Manager. Often there were conversations with Mr. Poole where I shared with him my concerns; the lack of confidence in my abilities to embrace challenges he was putting before me. Primarily, he had recommended that my Senior year I serve as Stage Manager for Nutcracker. Ultimately, the entire Junior year yielded leadership roles for every production. This opportunity to share my experiences is in hopes that some other young person will take that first step and get involved. The support in teachable moments is always there for the taking.

So, back to being a Senior! Technical Entertainment Crew at Westlake High School has laid a foundation for a wonderful high school experience. I have learned a craft, developed interpersonal communications skills, acquired leadership abilities and responsibilities, and made wonderful friends while having the time of my life. I am a more confident, competent, accomplished student for having participated in TEC throughout high school.

Involvement in TEC has allowed me to learn how to effectively lead people to a shared goal with
a common vision. If you cannot articulate your desires, your creativity, your objectives you will
never reach success with the key essential elements of any goal. Invest time in individuals,
embrace their unique differences, and treat each person with respect. It was a great ride and a
terrific beginning to the rest of my life.

“People will never care what you want them to know until they know how much you care!”

John C. Maxwell

-Jack Teets

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

From the SM Panel - Birdie

I’m not really a person for many words. If you ask me if there is anything I want to tell you or any concerns I have, odds are I’m just going to say “I don’t know” or some variation of that. I just don’t have much to say being that most of the time I feel that everything that needs to be said has been said or people already know everything that I would potentially say. It’s hard for me when I come into a position where talking is almost the only duty; it’s ironic I ended up stage managing a major production.

I learned stage managing isn’t just about calls cues at the exact right times or getting the correct lingo when you talk over the radio. Don’t get me wrong, those are incredibly important duties but I have learned to believe that those aren’t the highest priorities of a stage manager and just doing those things well isn’t going get you chosen or hired as one. The most important job of a stage manager, at least how I saw it, is to make sure everyone on his/her crew is having fun. Without fun or enjoyment the world would stand still and all of us would stare at each other blankly and nothing would get accomplished. When someone is having fun they are more likely to do a better job, think faster, and most importantly want to come back and work under you again. Everyone benefits from a little bit of fun, not to the amount that it becomes distracting, just enough to keep people thinking “Hey. I’m glad I’m here."

I learned to be ready for anything. Bye Bye Birdie was an interesting musical to tackle. It’s not exactly what you would call the most modern of musicals probably fitting of the classification of dated. The script had been edited in many places and had cuts in others to try to make it slightly more appealing to modern times, but for me this just made it difficult to follow. None the less it was bushels of fun (Seeing a theme here yet?) I still remember the first cue I ever called during one of the technical rehearsals. I called it completely wrong. It wasn’t even close. No one noticed though so I did the second most important thing that a Stage Manager has to do; Move on and Forget. I eventually got the hang of things and the cue calling path seemed to smooth out as I was calling each one of them with much perfection. Everyone seemed to be having fun so I existed in a very happy state and life was good. The cues called in the production weren’t terribly hard to call putting calling them as the least of my worries.

I learned that a Stage Manager is useless…without a crew. He/She can sit in a chair looking all ominous and powerful for as long as they desire and call cues to their heart's content, but if there is no one on the other end nothing will happen, obviously. There are times when a crew member may feel useless, but every single person is important on a crew, and I’m not just saying that to be cheesy. I’m not a ‘You’re Special!” kind of person, I’ll tell you the truth pretty much all the time. Every single person on a crew is needed 100% of the time during a show. If anything a Stage Manager is the least needed position on a crew! They just blab the entire time and occasionally something will happen when they say a special word. If you think about it, the stage manager has no direct control over how the production comes together! Everything is ultimately in the hands of the operator, just some food for thought.

I learned how much fun being a leader is! I have some very distinct viewpoints that a lot of people would disagree with and would say that I’m only asking for trouble. Several of my close friends have become tired of hearing me say this but as I see it motivation should be seen though what experience can be gained, not about the position. Without putting the limitation on yourself of "I only want to be a Grip Head," you open up so many doors of opportunity. Instead get in the mindset of, "I want to lead." It’s an experience rather than a position. The experience you get is what you will remember for the rest of your life, not the position you had. There are multiple places on a crew where you can lead and with that it makes your goal of leading easier to achieve as well! The other thing I believe that most people don't is more personal, but I love to see others succeed and I hate to ‘take’ positions from people that they really wanted, even if I was the best fit. I believe this goes hand in hand with my previous point in the respect of that I don’t see it needing the best Road Hog operator. I see it as needing the Road Hog operator that wants the experience of being on a production crew and working with moving lights the most. It’s kind of a confusing point to put in text but hopefully that makes a little sense.

I could go on and on for days about how much I learned from Stage Managing Bye Bye Birdie and how much of an incredible experience it was for me, but I won’t. For my final thoughts I will say just this: Everyone shouldn’t aspire to be a Stage Manager, but instead aspire to have the experience of leading a large group of people through dark and winding path. In reality they are the same thing, but accomplishing the experience will be a lot more memorable than getting the position.

-Adam Hilton

Eternal Lights: TEC in Las Vegas

Most trips to Las Vegas would not be described as thought-provoking. However, at midnight in a hotel room on the strip, after sixteen jam-packed hours of touring and shows, my thoughts kept me awake. In the technical theatre capital of the world, it turned out that the cutting edge of entertainment had a huge impact on my experience as a tech theatre student now and in the future.

 Last March, thirty TEC students visited Las Vegas on a field trip. In four days, we saw seven shows, including Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère, KÀ, Love, O, and Viva Elvis. All of these shows were unbelievable, both technically and artistically. Immediately after experiencing it, I described KÀ as “the best ninety minutes of my life,” and I stand by that statement today. I—and I’m sure other TEC students—had never seen a production on the scale of the shows we experienced in Vegas. In addition to our aggressive show-viewing schedule, TEC also had the chance to go backstage at four of the shows we saw.

Backstage tours at Cirque du Soleil are like no other experience in the world. Whether it be seeing the backside of KÀ’s stunning Sand Cliff Deck, hearing a sound test utilizing the six thousand speakers in Love Theatre, or traveling from the sub-basement at Viva Elvis to the fly loft 164 feet above, I was always stunned by the opportunity we had to see the inner workings of some of the most technologically advanced productions in the world. These tours not only gave us the chance to understand the inner workings behind the effects we saw during these shows, but they also made us realize the differences—and similarities—between our production of a show in Austin and the production of a two hundred million dollar Cirque du Soleil show. Although they're on a larger scale, most Cirque shows use the same light fixtures and line array speakers as can be found in the Westlake Community Performing Arts Center. Alas, our performing arts center will probably never have a moving stage or a speaker in every seat, but the base similarities in our equipment heightened our benefit from the tours and allowed us to learn from Cirque’s professional techniques.

The thing that struck me most, however, in all of our touring, was the sheer amount of people involved with shows in Vegas. Before our experience, I never really considered the huge array of industries and companies involved with a modern theatre production. There are technicians and stagehands, of course, that operate the show on a daily basis, but before the show opens, there is another completely different set of designers and technicians working toward opening night. Involvement even extends further, reaching industries normally considered outside the realm of theatre. One afternoon, we visited Fisher Technical Services, a company based in Las Vegas that specializes in selling automation winches and control to productions for theatre and motion pictures. While touring their warehouses and workshops, we saw engineers working on a completely different, yet equally important, aspect of a modern theatre production. Engineers at Fisher worked closely on the production of Phantom, designing a specialized system of winches to create the famous chandelier effect.

Overall, the trip to Las Vegas put a whole new perspective on all the work TEC does at home in our PAC. Experiencing several Cirque du Soleil shows from the audience and backstage made me value the knowledge and team TEC has built, and made future work in a related industry seem like a possibility. And with that thought, sleep grabbed me, and I drifted off, the eternal lights of Vegas just out my window.

-Jesse Anderson

Grimm Tales of Stage Managing

As you can probably guess, I was the stage manager for The Brother’s Grimm Spectaculathon, in the Black Box Theatre. It was the first time I had been in charge, with a crew of 5, and a cast of… much more. On top of that, Brother’s Grimm was sheer madness! It was a tangle of interwoven fairy tales, characters popping back in and out of the play. Wrapping my brain around the script took a few rehearsals, but within the first few days, I had it down. To some degree…

Now, while stage managing can be quite a daunting position to take, (believe me, I was worried if I could manage all the responsibility) it is definitely worth it. Everyone is friendly and understanding, cast and crew alike. And, for me, at least, the actual show was the most relaxed part. At least then, as long as nothing goes wrong, you’re running down a script and simply have to pay attention to get the timing correct. Before the show was a different story… It is your role to count down the time till the doors open and till the shows start for everyone. Every time a walked the rounds of the backstage area, I got more and more nervous. A bit of stage fright, I guess, because everyone can see if the cues are off. Of course, hearing all the actors respond with “Thank you!” upon hearing the time left is a bit helpful for that. 

I honestly didn’t know what to expect with this position. Well, I expected to completely panic and collapse due to the pressure, but that was a bit of an extreme possibility. But I truly enjoyed it. Partly because I liked the people involved, and partly because I proved to myself that I could actually do what was, in my mind, the most difficult position in TEC. 

So go out and sign up for stage manager, if you want a rewarding, if challenging, position. There is nothing quite like it.

-Michael Kloc

From the SM Panel - Inspector

The most commonly desired position in TEC is the Stage Manager. A lot of people tend to think it’s the toughest job to get because you have to know everything. This could not be further from the truth. While a big chunk of knowledge about technical theater is definitely useful, what makes stage managing tough is the huge amount of responsibility you’re given. As Stage Manager, you’re required to be an example to every one of your crewmembers. You’re required to work as hard as you can to put on the best show possible. You’re required to be unafraid of the challenges you’ll face. But most importantly, you’re required to do your best. 

One of the biggest challenges I face as a stage manager is stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m not a shouty person—my voice doesn’t carry and I don’t’ like when people yell at me—so when I learned on my first show that I would have to call times to the actors for their places (30 minutes till places, 15 minutes till places, etc.) I was a little apprehensive about it. The first time I did it was actually kind of funny—about four people actually heard me. I quickly realized that if I wanted these actors to respect me, I’d have to get over my hesitation to yell and be a lot louder.

Another way I’ve been required to step out of my comfort zone is keeping my crewmembers accountable for their responsibilities. If I had a crewmember who was late to rehearsal or neglected to do their job, it was my responsibility to handle it maturely and professionally. Pointing out what someone is doing wrong has never been a favorite thing of mine, so having to do that was tough for me to do.

Another challenge of mine as Stage Manager is responsibility. As just a crewmember, I’m very used to relying on other people to answer my questions and handle big problems. But when you’re the Stage Manager, you have to be the one everyone else relies on. You are the one people go to for questions, decisions, and opinions. Just about everything is up to you. This may seem really daunting (and believe me, it is), but to me, that’s one of the most rewarding parts of stage managing. When you’re faced with a terrifying situation, you face your fears and take on the challenge, and chances are good that you’ll come out with victory.

With stage managing comes massive amounts of pressure. Countless people are relying on you to do everything right and to put on the best show possible (at least that’s how it feels). All that pressure can be tough to handle, but it’s all worth it when you have an awesome crew supporting you through it all. All three of my crews, from Once Upon A Time to Spring Revue 2010 to The Government Inspector, were great groups of people who all gave me oodles of support and appreciation for the job I did.

The pressure can also make one tiny mistake seem like the end of the world. What I’ve realized is that you can’t expect yourself to be perfect, you just have to expect yourself to do your best. As backwards as this may seem, stage managing is actually a very humbling job, despite the power you’re given. You’re forced to accept the fact that the best you can do is the best you can do, and that’s all you can do about it. It’s also a very challenging job, because it requires you to find out just how good your best can be. 

While Stage Manager is a job that comes with huge amounts of responsibility and stress, it’s one of the most rewarding and fun jobs I’ve ever had the chance to do. I’ve learned so much from the three shows I’ve stage managed, as well as from SM’s from other shows. I’ve gained so much more respect for tech theater, because I’ve seen first-hand just how tough it can be. I would encourage everyone to try stage managing at least once in your life, no matter how big or small the show. It’s an incredible experience, and it’s certainly one that you won’t regret.

-Maggie Martino

TEC, How did You Change Me?

There was a purpose originally given to the past president interviews currently on this website. That purpose was to give perspective on what TEC had done for the presidents that had loyally served it. Seeing as my interview was done while I was still in high school I could only guess at what I had learned. Now that I am nearing the end of my freshman year in college, I have gained even more perspective.

I walked down the halls of Westlake High School for the first time just like every other 14-year-old freshman. I had gone through middle school thinking that I knew everything I would need to know, felt as if I was on the top. Then I got to Westlake and realized that reality was very different. I found myself suddenly in a place where getting ‘lost in the shuffle’ wasn’t an uncommon thing. Luckily for me there was something that separated me from the rest of my class. 

I was already involved with something, that something was the Technical Entertainment Crew. At the time, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, nor do I wish that I did (for fear that I would have shied away). TEC for the longest time has been somewhat for the ‘lost kids’, not meant to be demeaning in anyway but really to show that we tend to be the ones with nowhere else to belong. Looking back, I am stunned at the different kinds of people that we got to work together in my 4 years in TEC. There were basketball players, football players, baseball players, dancers, musicians, computer geeks, lacrosse players, and even a volunteer fireman. Despite all of that, we had this common love of spectacle. We wanted to put on the biggest, baddest show that had ever been seen. 

You could say that TEC shaped me because I learned skills like lighting, sound, video, photography, etc. but I would tell you that you would only be scratching the surface. The things I really appreciated getting out of TEC were not tangible skills. I learned leadership, camaraderie, teamwork, respect and responsibility. Everything I learned outside of the classroom and in the theatre or TEC office could be summed up with those words. 

From the beginning of my high school career I was pushed out of my comfort zone by David Poole and essentially kept out of it until I graduated. That was an extremely important reason why I grew the way I did. Being an officer all 4 years and TEC president for the last 2. I had to learn to adapt quickly. Going through all of the events, teambuilding, hardship, and celebration I gained a fair amount of confidence in myself. Learning the ability to believe in yourself and your own abilities to go on and accomplish great things. 

Since getting to TCU, I have done what every college kid does, nap, eat, and make friends. I was able to take the confidence and camaraderie skills I learned while at Westlake and apply them in a whole new setting. Making friends would have been much harder had it not been for what I had gained from TEC. After TEC I also found handling my class workload to be fairly easy, (the lack of 11pm crew calls had to help). Plus this spring I started an internship with a company down in Austin doing some marketing work. Now sure some of these could have been possible without TEC, but definitely not as easy. 

I have found that there are very few skills I learned while in TEC that haven’t transferred to college. Of course I will rarely if ever need to program intelligent lights to do a left to right chase on a Road Hog Full Boar, but I will always need the ability to bring a group together and make something special. For that I hope that everyone who is in or will be in TEC will get as much out of it as I did. I hope that the organization continues to flourish so that it will always be there to transform lives and bring in shy freshman and send out strong leaders.

If you haven’t seen the video shot between Boyd Stepan, and myself, see what he and I had to say about TEC last year.

-Travis Favaron