The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Behind the Lights of ‘Alice in Wonderland’


WASHINGTON, DC – The middle school production of “Alice in Wonderland” was an astounding show with its first showing October 19 and it has been a hectic and lengthy journey to prepare for it.

“Alice in Wonderland” is this year’s middle school play directed by Emma Strauss, the Middle School theatrical arts teacher. It’s first showing was Thursday, October 19, and the entire cast has been hard at work rehearsing for it. A large part of pulling off a production like this one is having the lights and sound ready. A tech crew led by Mark Perkins, media and theater coordinator, has been busily working since the beginning of the year in anticipation for this production. There were around 100 students involved in the production.

“I love working with a dedicated team of students,” said Perkins, the man behind the light design for the play and the one who has been working hard to set everything up in time. He first started working in tech as an assistant at Dance Place, a non-profit in Brookland. He would help out everywhere and that is where he learned the basics of tech. He’s been working in tech since high school and has been working at WIS for 5 years. For Perkins, the technical process is about communicating with the director and accommodating their vision in the light design. He then hangs lights and sets them up according to the stage design. He describes it as “very tedious and laborious, especially when I’m working alone” and his least favorite part of it is tracing, which is the process of following wires along the ceiling. He thinks this year’s play is very unique because it is an alleyway stage, which means he needs to put lights up on both sides of the theatre because the actors are in the middle. This was also his first time in charge of the light design for the play.

Perkins and his team of students spend hours in the theatre taking down lights, putting them back up in different spots, tracing cables to power them, and making sure they turn on. This whole process takes weeks because of the difficulty of hanging lights and skill it involves.

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This year’s design has been especially difficult for the tech crew because of the alleyway stage design. The design demands a new set up of lights that is very different from the usual proscenium stage design. Lights must be taken down from their proscenium positions and placed in a new position for the alleyway stage sets. This year’s play was also using several LED lights that are rarely used and give very vibrant colors to the stage.

Strauss has been rehearsing with the students since the beginning of the year. She’s the one who decides the stage design for the play and creates a certain vision for the play. She communicates with the light designer and sound designer about the play and what needs to happen during certain scenes.

“The play was fun, stressful, and very time consuming” says Iris Cooper, an 8th grade student who was involved in the play. She played the role of the Griffin in “Alice in Wonderland” and had been rehearsing it for 5 weeks. Cooper describes the light design as “really good” and saying that it “matches the scenes and mimics the actions occuring onstage.”

For more information on the Middle School production, be sure to check out this article!

For more information on Perkins click here and for more information on Strauss click here.

Written by Emre Tokpinar

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