Backstage in Pioneer’s Theater Guild


Sean Carter

Backstage student crew members work on the recent production “Into the Woods.”

When you think of Pioneer Theater Guild, you might think of the many talented actors who perform, such as the most recent productions of “Les Miserables” and “Into the Woods.” Now imagine these performances in the dark, or with no microphones. With the actors in their regular clothes, miming props and chairs and everything they might need in the scene.

Well no one has to imagine that because of Pioneer Theater Guild’s backstage crews. As of right now, there are seven different crews — and each one contributes something different to the show. For example,”‘sets” crew builds all of the sets and settings for each performance. “We create the energy, the scene, and the aesthetic for the show,” says sets crew member and Pioneer junior Olivia Callanan.

Other crews also contribute to the overall production. “We bring [the show] to life,” says one props member. “Sets give the show a place to act, but we give them the stuff to act with.” 

“For example, in a sword fight,” according to another crew member, “without props it wouldn’t make much sense, but with the actual props it makes a lot more sense.”

These groups also offer creative environments for many people, a place to create art together.  “I have just always loved painting and all sorts of art,” says Cecilia Lodge-Russell.  “And it feels like this is a great place to incorporate art and a community.” Paints, props, and sets are just a few of the crews at Pioneer, others begin very close to opening night. 

Sound crew is an example of this. “For the most part, everyone learns from each other during tech week,” said Patrick Shrock, the sound supervisor. 

Many of the groups are run by adults, who will overlook the process, or offer design expertise. In tech week, or the week full of preparation and final rehearsals leading up to the opening of the show, the students become independent from the advisers. “The goal with PTG shows is that by opening night the student crew is fully running the show by themselves,” said Shrock. 

For many, these crews have become more than just a place to work.“Crew is sort of one big family. We look out for each other,” says one Props member. Many meet at least three times a week to create their projects, so bonds are definitely made.

Right now, Pioneer Theatre Guild is working on “You on the Moors Now,” which will premiere Jan. 27, and FutureStars 2023, scheduled  for Feb. 11.