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Panola Theatre: Behind the Curtain

James Smith
People behind the curtain that make theatre possible.

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Not every person in a theatre is the star of the stage. In fact, not every person in theatre is even on the stage. “The theatre is a gross art, built in sweeps and over-emphasis. Compromise is its second name.” Enid Bagnold

By happy accident, I’ve been given the privilege of an inside look into the heart of theatre this semester at Panola College. My first visit behind the curtain was DRAM1330 with Ms. Karen King. I was thrust into the stagecraft room, a bustling pageant of buzzing drills, flashing grinders, saws, and blueprints. I was struck with that self-conscious feeling that everyone knew what they were doing but me! My thoughts were confirmed when I was informed that every one of these busy people were skilled scholarship students. Luckily, I am not a total loss with a drill so I applied myself to building an enormous beaker.

The mixed bag of talents in the Panola stagecraft class was extraordinary. Alongside the actors were people who specialized in lights, welding, and simple usefulness. To counter weight my inexperience, I was put in with two aces of the theatre. First was Shuntara or “T”, a welder whose resourcefulness I believe to be unequaled. Secondly was Jeramie an actor who is just as skilled behind the stage as on it. We set out sawing, grinding, biting, scratching and drilling that huge beaker. This was an important beaker since Jeramie would have to be inside of it while wearing a billowy Victorian dress. Soon we had the finest giant beaker on this side of the Mississippi! As I beheld that monstrous beaker I felt then that though no one would ever see my face on stage during the play, they would see my beaker. I feel in this I found the spirit of the stagecraft team.

At this point I would recommend anyone with a passion for theatre, but no God-given acting ability, to consider trying out for the team anyhow. You will be astonished as I was at the montage of skills needed in the theatre department.

My whole experience conjures up the image of the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, full of flashing lights and flames. when you look behind the curtain you only find a poor trickster. The only difference is when you look behind the grand productions of Panola theatre you find 20 poor tricksters; all of them wizards in their own right.

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Panola Theatre: Behind the Curtain