Learning the Ropes of Stagecraft

Senior Sarah Leal learned the ropes of stagecraft during her sophomore year.

Her face is engraved into your memory when you first see her from the way her features harmoniously soften and harden according to her feelings. The curls that take over her hair fall down the spine that sways her through the day, bouncing but never falling. She engages her interest in things by using her senses to the fullest extent: sight to etch memories onto the surface of her mind; touch to experience the textures of the world around her; hearing to recognize those closest to her even when they are far away; smell to know when to shoo away the stenches life can throw, and taste to learn the bitter sweetness found in the small moments of everyday.

Her senses enhance her natural abilities, but this wasn’t enough for the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA) stagecraft team member. Her proficiency was not a bonus, it was a requirement; and putting them to the test was just the beginning of her path to the top of stagecrew. It took dedication, with some failures along the way.

Sarah Leal, who is now a senior, learned quickly that there was no easy way to be not only a member of the FSSA stagecraft crew, but to also be part of the family they had created.

As a sophomore she appeared as “fresh meat” in the world of stagecraft’s technology and technique. Her first job fell into her lap accidentally, after the originally planned person assigned to flys suddenly couldn’t make the Halloween show of that year. Being on flys means to be in charge of multiple sets of ropes that are attached to sets of heavy pipes, which are then attached to any other heavy equipment needed in a particular show or play at the school. However, the crew decided to show sympathy for the newbie, and gave her the relief of being assigned only to lower and raise a projection screen. One of the older members, PJ, took Sarah under his wing and had her practice run the projection screen 14 times for good measure. She was a natural, and whatever she didn’t understand at first, she quickly learned through a slight tweak in her technique. But her praises could not be spoken too soon.

When it was time for the official rehearsal for the annual Halloween show. Sarah would be working the flys, except with everyone’s watching.

Among this small audience was Andre Vazquez, the head of stagecraft, and the man who needs to be impressed the most. PJ could not be Sarah’s aid this time, so she came to her moment by herself. Confidently, she pulled the rope. After a half second the projection came crashing down, vibrating the floor and creating a huge thump. She pulled the wrong rope, even after practicing 14 times.

“It was the most terrible show I’ve ever done. Ever,” Sarah said.

It was the moment Sarah learned that natural talent isn’t enough- focus and dedication come in first place.

– by Bryanna Escalante ‘18