Imagine Hamlet without the eerie ghost. Legally Blonde without the glitzy spotlights. The Tempest without the stormy weather. Lighting is integral to the theatre-going experience, and at PHS, students take leadership roles in programming lighting effects for the shows in the Alan Harvey Theater.
Junior Max Roitblat has helped with the lighting for the Acting 3-4 plays since last spring, and programmed lights for “The Cripple of Inishmaan” and “Tempest.” Students who work in the lighting booth attend rehearsals for the last two weeks before the show, and take notes on what lighting will be required. They then use their notes to program the cues into the lighting board, Roitblat said.
Roitblat said that the technical side of theatre has always been an interest of his.
“As a kid going to shows I always noticed myself staring at the lights or stage hands, so I’ve always had an interest in the behind the scenes aspects,” Roitblat said. “This was kind of an open opportunity for me to try my hand at that.”
Programming lights gives a different insight to the play, as he’s not as caught up in the action and can see the character development better, Roitblat said.
“It is a big time commitment but I think it pays off,” Roitblat said.
Roitblat also has experience apprenticing with a lighting designer at Berkeley’s YMTC theater, where he worked on “Spring Awakening” and “A Chorus Line,” Roitblat said.
Junior Josh Rogers, a member of the Acting 3-4 class, said that lighting is essential to convey themes to an audience.
“We have different colors for our lighting, so red might signify death or chaos, green might signify something else to that effect,” Rogers said.
Senior Kit Asa-Hauser said that one benefit of working on lighting for productions is that the students receive volunteer hours or are paid. Asa-Hauser has worked on Acting 3-4 plays such as “Antigone.”
“Lights set the whole atmosphere of the show,” Asa-Hauser said.
The huge effect of lighting on a play means learning the lighting software pays off, said senior Sylvie Srinivasan, who has worked on lights for productions like the Spring and Winter Dance shows and “1776.”
“Once you know how to work the system it’s really fun, but if you don’t know how to use the system it’s like doing a math problem when you don’t know what any of the variables mean,” Srinivasan said.
Srinivasan said that as a lighting booth operator, she can contribute to the production without being on stage.
“I’m not a performer or anything like that but I like being involved in helping other people realize their dreams,” Srinivasan said.