Mullen Looks Back At 4 Years In The Drama Program

Amaya+Mullen.
Amaya Mullen.

Amaya Mullen.

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S Vawter Photo

Amaya Mullen.

Amaya Mullen, Staff Writer

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In 2014-’15 I was a Freshman; new to everything and unaware of the individual that I would turn into with the passing years.  I joined a class called Technical Theater and don’t regret it for even a second, almost 5 years after filling out my first forecasting sheet in 8th grade.

The first show that I ever helped bring to life in the CHS auditorium was called A Midsummer Jersey by Samuel French.  It’s basically a remake of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream but set on a beach in New Jersey.  All I remember is the blue tool on our cabana that was held up with staples and tape, and all of the sparkles that were collected every night that we had to sweep the stage (I’m still finding some under layers of paint).

The One Acts were interesting.  In Booby Trapped, David Miller had to sit perfectly still the entire time.  It was fun trying to figure out a way that he could sit so that his legs didn’t fall asleep for so long.  A layer of pillows was the best that we could do but all it did was make his wooden seat a tiny bit more comfortable. The other one act was very minimal and it amazes me to this very day that there were hardly any props and a black stage as the only set piece

That year we built the horrifying set for a musical Shrek.  There were ‘trees’ hanging from the lights, Shrek’s swamp house doubled as the castle, there was chicken wire on almost every set piece and so much brown and green paint was used that I can’t even look at the colors anymore without getting upset.  The dragon sat back stage most of the show and Grace Dewald took her costume home on the last night of the show.  For the following three years we were still finding blue feathers from the bird, and every time anyone found one, whoever worked in the show would either gripe or give a fond memory of the show, most of the time the feathers were taken and thrown away with no words of explanation.

Sophomore year was a good year, nothing too bad happened with the play Bone Chiller by Monk Ferris.  One thing that happened though and was a minor setback was when instructor Kellie McCarty looked away for a split second, only to turn back to Briahna laughing loudly while I flipped off my shoes, yelling as I ran out of the auditorium to grab paper towels.  Briahna and I were staining wood to place as the dark trim on the bright yellow walls of the set.  I spilled half of a can of dark brown wood stain on the plastic we were staining on and it slid off onto the tile floor.  That show ran smoothly, there were a few times where Briahna couldn’t find the light switch but we all laugh about it now.  The painting that we had to mod podge together still resides somewhere in the prop room with its weird message hidden within pictures that don’t go together at all.  We all treasured that rebus like it was our child and had fun every show night as the actors on stage figured out what it meant.

The sets for the one acts are and always have been a fun challenge to come up with due to the need for it to be minimalistic and the fact that we only get two months to come up with everything and build a functioning set.  The one acts are a great way to exercise your imagination and management skills, especially if you’re a technical director for one of the productions.  One of the shows, 15 Reasons not to be in a Play, was a black stage while the other one, The Perfect Score, was a bit more complex.  In all honesty, I don’t remember the one acts.

Annie Get Your Gun was an interesting Musical.  Any time that McCarty brings up making boxes, she gets at least three-four complaints.  There was dirt throwing, balloon popping–intentionally and unintentionally–and lots of dancing.  I’d have to say that Annie Get Your Gun was a show that I really enjoyed working in and on.  Everyone backstage was nice and got along in a professional way, even if they had conflicts outside of the show.  The technicians back stage got to wear jeans, bandanas and flannel shirts to help fit in with the scene of the show.  It was probably one of my most comfortable shows that I have had the privilege to work in.

2015-’16’s Junior year play was called Leaving Iowa and oh boy can I tell you that it was a piece of work.  The steering wheel on the car never sat quite right or it wobbled around and almost fell over.  The Iowa map was made completely of styrofoam, held together with wood glue and muslin and painted over at least three times with the same electric blue.  The car was made of old car seats, a platform with wheels on the bottom, wooden blocks and so many screws.  The end of every show always pulled at my heartstrings, there were two stories being told at the same time, memories and real time.

In 13 Ways to Screw up a College Interview by Ian McWethy, there were walls put up and the lights divided the stage into two separate offices for interviewing 13 very different students applying to a college.  Perfect by Alan Haehnel is a story that follows a young girl into her teen years as her mother tells her that she’s perfect but the rest of the world has another opinion about her.

Addam’s Family screenplay by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, was a very fun show to participate in! The set design was interesting to make, there were many different textures and tones of grey, the lights were mostly blue but sometimes red and the costumes, oh boy, I think there will forever be a white handprint on the door of the girls bathroom.  Close to the last show, the hook that held up the moon fell off and Aaron Clark had to put it back up in a few minutes.  Everyone was telling him to leave it down but he got it up anyway, despite their disencouragement.  

My last year, my Senior year, as a technician at Centennial was frustrating, sad, funny and I’m glad to be able to say that I have made it through these four years of life.

The last play that I participated in was called The Nitwits by Samuel French.  The walls were always one tap away from falling over, they were were such an odd texture, the trim was so bent that the wood looked like an actual bow and there was so much wood stain.  The best part about it was that everyone enjoyed putting together this work of art and we took it down in a few days.  The closet door never actually latched so when people forgot to unlock the door, it didn’t matter or hold up the show.  The flats and especially the stairs will probably never stop squeaking but that’s a part of working with wood. It squeaks!

The one acts have always been a pleasure to direct, even if I have no idea how to lead a large group of people.  Bad Auditions by Bad Actors was another scenario where the stage lights gave the illusion of having two rooms, a waiting room and an audition room.  Perfect was quite the opposite.  A light center stage and each character having a frame that represented their personality or how they saw themselves with a projector screen following along the story, showing pictures that relate to the characters high school lives.

The Drowsy Chaperone by Bob Martin and Don McKellar is a show that I will never forget.  Two-three months building a set that took us three days to take down.  Aldolpho got sick and almost lost his voice, we went through at least two bags of cough drops and the mics kept going out.  The show was great though!  I laughed every day, we danced at the light board and sang along to every song by the first show.

All in all, I really enjoyed my experience as a Technician in the Centennial Auditorium and I hope that in the years to come, similar stories of admiration will be posted about this underrated class and place that I call a second home.

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