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The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

S*T*A*G*E hires alum as new technical director

Photo by Ely Snow
New S*T*A*G*E technical director Clare Cawley demonstrates to new members how to use a power tool for building sets. “I love being able to kind of start from scratch and build this baseline of organisation, structure and communication for all the crews so that they know, ‘Oh that’s how it’s supposed to work!’,” Cawley said.
Clare Cawley in the 2018 edition of The Windup, WJ’s yearbook. Cawley graduated as part of the Class of 2018 before going on to Penn State University to study engineering and later technical theater direction. (Photo courtesy of The Windup)

S*T*A*G*E was left scrambling at the beginning of this school year after the previous technical director, the adult who supervises all of the backstage work for a show, Kevin Daney, stepped down from the position. The club had to search for somebody to step up to the role and in alum Clare Cawley, they found their replacement.

Cawley graduated from high school in 2018 after four years, all of them in S*T*A*G*E having worked in both the carpentry and props departments.

S*T*A*G*E is a largely student-led organization, with the only two adults being the overall director and the technical director. Director Colleen McAdory leads and directs S*T*A*G*E, choosing the shows, cast and more. The technical director is unsurprisingly in charge of the technical side: building and decorating sets, preparing lights and audio systems and more.

“My job mainly is teaching [the students] the structure of how a theater is run and collaborating with other designers and the director. There are so many different crews who do so many things and we need to work together to make a cohesive set for the whole show,” Cawley said.

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The students who work on crew are thankful for Cawley’s arrival, and Cawley has already made connections with many of the students she works with.

Clare is a wonderful person to work with. She has a lot of ideas to help us improve our work on paper and on stage and she is extremely knowledgeable.

— student Technical Director, senior Maria Cabrera Martin

Cawley first found out about the opportunity through a friend’s mother, who sent her an email from the school listserve. Applying for the job in early September, Cawley was quickly hired and got right to work within just two weeks.

“I’m having so much fun with it. Sometimes I’ll see something [backstage] and I’ll go ‘Oh I built that!’ or ‘Oh I painted that!’, so it is definitely really fun to be back,” Cawley said.

Cawley really and truly loves working with the students and seeing them put the show together.

“There are so many things that I can learn from them, as much as they can learn from me,” Cawley said.

Students in the organization back this up.

“She has already taught me a lot and I really appreciate everything she’s helping us with,” Cabrera Martin said.

Cawley graduated from Penn State University in May of this year, with a bachelor of fine arts in technical direction. For her freshman and part of sophomore year there, she studied engineering before changing her direction. After graduation, Cawley worked at a summer theater in Pennsylvania, doing five different shows in one summer.

In January, Cawley plans to move to Dallas, Texas, meaning the upcoming fall show will be her only one as tech director at the school. In preparation for her move to Dallas, she is applying at multiple regional theaters to be an associate tech director, a more focused version of her overarching role at the moment.

“I’ll definitely miss her in the spring,” Cabrera Martin said.

At this point, Cawley does not have a job other than being the tech director for S*T*A*G*E.

“Right now, I’m just home taking a break really. I worked a lot of long hours over the summer,” Cawley said.

Cawley holds tons of enthusiasm for her job and the upcoming show, which will be episodes of the cult classic science-fiction-horror TV show The Twilight Zone. Each episode of The Twilight Zone is an independent story that frequently ends with a shock twist or lesson to be taken away. Although the original 1959 series is in black & white, S*T*A*G*E is looking at using muted and desaturated colors to bring the show to life in-person.

“I think [the concept] is so fun, and it makes such a great opportunity for so many different designs. It really allows the props department and the costumes department and everyone to not only think of a design and make one show; we’re basically making six different little shows,” Cawley said.

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Ely Snow
Ely Snow, Online Editor-in-Chief
Senior Ely Snow is an Online Editor-in-Chief and looking forward to working on The Pitch this year. In his free time, he likes to play ultimate and guitar.
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