Behind the Scenes of Catalina’s Theatre Productions by Marissa Schimpf

It is a known fact around the Monterey area that Catalina’s theater department is fantastic. Somehow, young women are capable of transforming into characters of any age or gender, and the quality of performances is practically unmatched. I remember being stunned by the talent of the students in middle school, so stunned that I automatically assumed there was no point in even auditioning. I thought there was no chance I could get on these girls’ level. During the fall of my freshman year, though, I saw the musical “The Wind in the Willows”. While sitting in the audience, I quickly realized that I needed to at least try to be a part of a production. No other sport or extracurricular called to me or inspired me in the same way theater did. So, I chose to audition for the mid-winter play. In hindsight, the moment I auditioned for that play, my high-school experience truly began. I found a passion and a great community and repeatedly forced myself out of my comfort zone (mostly by singing in front of upperclassmen at auditions). By the end of my sophomore year, I’d been in five plays, and I overconfidently believed I knew everything there was to know about theater. I was looking forward to entering plays as a self-proclaimed veteran in my junior year. 

However, to my (and everyone’s) disappointment, a year of performing was taken from all of us when we were sent into lockdown. After finally returning to school a few months ago, I expected to excitedly jump back into performing. However, a part of me had no desire to get back on stage immediately. I listened to this voice in my head and decided to give the tech crew a try. I knew almost nothing about the crew’s responsibilities, so I went into this experience blindly. As time went by, I began to realize what a fantastic learning experience I had undertaken.

The first few weeks consisted of lots of painting, and I quickly realized that I’d never taken time to notice the sets in all my years of theater. I had no idea how much thought and work goes into creating the perfect stage environment for the actors. I met artists and carpenters who have devoted countless hours to these sets over the years, feeling astonished that I had no previous knowledge of their existence. After the show ended, I made a silent promise to fully appreciate the set of every show I act in the future.

Also, now being a senior, I was able to witness some of my best friends take on leading roles and play them brilliantly. As I stood backstage and watched them perform, I remembered them as freshmen. Seeing them from a third-person perspective made me realize how much they have all grown, both as actors and people. Not too long ago, they were timid 14-year-olds, terrified to step on anyone’s toes or embarrass themselves. Seeing their confidence and passion made me fairly emotional and extremely proud. 

Although I was not on stage during the production of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown”, I still felt very connected to it. I now am fully aware that a show does not solely rely on the actors, but on an extremely large group of people, some of whom I was lucky enough to spend time with this semester. If I learned one thing, it is that one should participate in their interests in as many ways as possible. I can almost guarantee it will give them a much deeper appreciation for that passion. I will now be acting in Radium Girls, Catalina’s mid-winter play. I cannot wait to see how my previous time on tech enriches my experience as an actor.