AN INTERVIEW WITH Technical director earl martz
Theatre Magic...it takes quite a cast to bring it all together.
Earl Martz, technical director talks about making a set magical...and his favorite sets!
Most of you probably wouldn’t recognize me if you ran into me on the street. I am one of the “invisible” staff at BTE - part of the show you never get to see. This is a shame, because some of the coolest things go on behind the scenes. But if we do our job right you’ll never think about us! I have been asked to share my world at BTE with you. And for some crazy reason I said yes. So buckle up for your magical back stage ride.
I’m the technical director, which is a fancy title for the person that builds the sets. And for non-theater people, the set is anything the actors don’t wear or pick up and play with (that would be costumes and props in that order). So for me that means the windows, doors, walls, furniture, and sometimes even the dust and spiders when appropriate! In six short weeks, I transform a blank black stage into a magical place - into a condemned house in Georgia or into Santa’s work shop at the North Pole, or into whatever place we need to better tell the story.
But the exciting part of my job (and this is definitely my favorite part) is creating the magical effects. This process starts with the director sharing their dream about the play. Then it’s my job to take this “dream” and make it a reality. And though I typically start with the same reaction to their dream, “YOU WANT WHAT”, I jump in with enthusiasm to meet the challenge! For example, In the STINKY CHEESE MAN, the director asked for an oven on center stage - an oven for an actor to place cheese into to bake and when opened to take the cheese back out, allow a real boy to emerge to dance and sing on stage. I also had to construct a set with a wall that had to come crashing down at the end of the play. I designed a vase that would fall off of a shelf at the shot of a fake gun and a blind that goes up on its own. We do it all and more to transport the audience to a special place where reality is put aside.
Some of my favorite sets have been DOUBT, it was my first, and like your first girlfriend you never forget them. SUPERIOR DONUTS was so spot on. It was as if we had cloned a real donut shop and placed it on stage. That was the hardest play to tear down. Not that destroying any of them is easy. I am also very proud of ROW AFTER ROW. If I can be so bold to say so, it felt like a Broadway offering.
I hope this gives you’re a better idea of who I am and what I do. And so the next time you run into me on the streets of Bloomsburg, with arms full of weird thing, you can say “I know that guy, he’s the invisible magic man”.
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