By Sean Kelly
They’re not the ones in the spotlight, but the ones that picked the color for it.
Seniors Noah Anderson and Jessica Davis are technical supervisors for Fine Arts Programming (FAP). They have a range of responsibilities which include running a shop crew, helping to run the theater department and FAP performances, as well as designing their own shows.
In the shop, they help make all of the props that are used for theater department shows. When they have worked on a set, it changes their viewing experience completely.
“On shows that I have built personally, if I know there is anything funky about it, I am always watching that object,” Anderson said. “If I know that we built a chair where one of the legs is a quarter inch too long, I am always looking at it…I won’t keep my eyes off of it. When I’m designing a show, whatever part I worked on the most is where my attention is focused.”
Because both Anderson and Davis have worked in FAP since their first-year, they have a lot of experience with show design. Davis has stuck mostly with lighting design and Anderson has tried lighting, sound and scenic design. With experience also comes their own creative autonomy.
“With your first design, they [their supervisors] are definitely a lot more hands on… but for me at least, this is my third design doing lighting, they are much more hands off and like, ‘how are you doing this?’” Davis said. “They will only really intervene if there is something that is actually not physically possible.”
While Davis is a history major and does not plan to pursue a career in theater after graduation, the skills she has built in FAP helped her last summer at her internship. With the help of her father, she built a trench for a World War I exhibit at Lawsne Memorial Museum in St. Paul.
Anderson, a theater major, has been largely impacted by working at FAP. So much, in fact, that he changed his life plan.
“I was a biology major my freshman year and then I worked at FAP and had more fun at my job than I did at school, so I decided that this is what I wanted to do,” Anderson said. “Last summer I was in Virginia doing this [working tech and backstage] for an amusement park at Bush Gardens and hopefully I can continue to do so in the future and not starve to death. That’s the goal.”
From working behind the scenes, both Davis and Anderson have gained a greater appreciation for what goes into a production and has changed the way they engage in the arts.
“If you have an appreciation for the arts or for performance, just to work behind the scenes and understand how everything comes together is a really cool thing to do,” Anderson said. “You go to big theater like the Guthrie and I will say, ‘I know what light that is. I know where the sound is coming from.’ I don’t think it detracts from the illusion of reality, but it is a nice nod to be able to appreciate the people behind the scenes.”
Feature photo by Jillian Schulz • [email protected] • SJU Senior Noah Anderson is one of the technical supervisors for Fine Arts Programing. Technical supervisors play a cruical role in creating theater performances.