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Green sees it all during stagecraft institute

Barry McNamara
Amanda Green (left) takes in a performance by Blue Man Group during her time at the eight-week Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – Just as there is an art to performing on stage, there is an art to the behind-the-scenes work that goes into staging a performance.

This summer, Monmouth College student Amanda Green ’20 of Henderson, Nev., was immersed in the finer arts of fine arts during the eight-week Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas.

Each of the weeks had a different focus, including the third week, which featured Green’s specialty – audio.

“I want to be an audio engineer,” said Green, who has done most of the audio for Monmouth theatre productions for the past two years, including Meet Me in St. Louis and Saving Toyland. “Audio has been called the ‘black magic’ of stagecraft, since you can’t really see it.”

What Green did see was several shows on the Las Vegas strip, including LOVE, a Beatles-inspired production that she and the other students in the institute attended during the third week.

“It was really cool to see the sound that went into it,” she said of the popular show. “Every seat in the auditorium had its own speaker.”

From heavy metal to country

Another favorite for Green was the final week of the program, which concluded the three-week “Movers, Media and Rock ’n’ Roll” segment.

“That was the best week ever – I love rock ’n’ roll,” she said. “They gave us different songs and had us come up with the lighting for them. We learned basic things about music, like how to tell what the BPM (beats per minute) of a song is. Then we learned how to light various genres of music – like how a rock-n-roll song shouldn’t be lit like a country music song.”

The students were split into smaller groups, sometimes being the “pilot” of the lighting production and sometimes the “co-pilot.” At first, the teams were given three hours to complete their projects, but the time was cut to 30 minutes by the end. Green was particularly proud of piloting the lighting for a Metallica song.

A communication studies major, Green took away more from the institute than learning stagecraft techniques.

“I’m looking forward to tying the things we did over the summer into my communication studies classes,” she said, “particularly the small-group communication we did when we were pilots and co-pilots.”

Behind-the-scenes tech

Green was exposed to several tools that are widely used throughout the industry, especially Vectorworks, which is 3D design software.

“It lets you build life-sized objects on a computer and lets you see things in 3D,” she said. “Everyone in the industry uses Vectorworks. It’s a great program to know to be in the industry.”

Hand-in-hand with Vectorworks is Vision software, which Green said helps technicians “play around” with elements and “see what you’re doing before you put a lot of money into a project.”

“During that week, I programmed the song ‘100 Bad Days’ into a show, using about two dozen cues,” she said. “It was a cool experience to actually play with it and see what it would look like before doing it at a venue.”

What’s ahead

Another element of the institute was a job fair, and Green was particularly impressed by the representatives she spoke to from Disney and Celebrity Cruises.

Before she starts her post-Monmouth career, Green will be busy on and off campus. She’ll be in charge of lighting for the College’s production of A Child's Christmas in Wales in November, one month before she takes a short-term Christmas break job with Rentex AV Rentals. Throughout the year, she’ll work in the College’s AV department, applying lessons she learned at the institute.

“Through the institute, I got an ETC (electronic theatre control) console,” said Green. “It’s actually a flash drive that I can use with my computer to turn it into an ETC console. I’m hoping to take it to Dahl Chapel and see how it works.”

When she’s not studying communication or dabbling with sound and light, Green will be busy preparing for her fourth and final year on the Fighting Scots’ lacrosse team.

“We’ve grown so much since our first practice in 2017,” said Green, who was a member of the program’s first team. “I’m so happy for how we’ve progressed, and looking forward toward the new season with more progression. I can’t wait to see the preseason poll for next year ... I want to see us up in the rankings, where we should be.”