Technical Theater’s Evolution Advances to the Next Stage


Aaron Sha

(Top) Technical theater students watch a rehearsal from backstage, ready to respond to every cue. (Bottom Left) Students built their own flight of stairs backstage that will be used by singers. (Bottom Right) The prop table holds a variety of objects that will be used throughout the show.

Aaron Sha, Business Team

Behind every theatrical production is a strong, unrelenting backbone that supports actors and actresses in making the execution of shows and musicals possible. From the precise choreography of every light to the placement of entire houses onstage, technical theater, also known as “stage tech,” carries both the responsibility and the talent to manage costume selection, sound design, set creation, microphone management, lighting design and more.

A visual and performing arts elective that has been available to students since the establishment of Portola High, the popular class has undergone many changes.

“Portola hasn’t really had a lot of sets for any past shows,” visual and performing arts teacher Adrian Rangel-Sanchez said. “Everything we were gonna use we had to build from scratch; we didn’t already have it built from previous shows. So that was a big challenge. We kind of had to start from the very basics to get this put together.”

One of the changes is course size. Since there are now over 1,400 students who can select this class, stage tech has expanded into two classes, with advanced technical theater for the returning veterans and regular technical theater for interested newcomers. With more hands on deck, the difficulties of general tasks have often been reduced for large projects, such as the set design for the upcoming spring musical, “The Addams Family,” leaving more room for experienced students to delve into complex projects.

Additionally, stage tech experienced changes in less hands-on aspects as well. One large alteration was the content taught, building the stage knowledge of the students up in order to set them up for productions throughout the years.

“The first year, we mainly focused on the different stages, along with different types of shows because the theater wasn’t built,” stage tech lead mic technician and junior Arisha Liao said. “Second year, we started more on hands-on, though still supervised by teachers, more building and less bookwork. This year it’s mostly student-run. Our teachers this year sit back and only offer a helping hand when it’s needed. So most things you see this year are student-created and student-run.”

Stage tech’s progression and incredible designs will be displayed in the spring musical on Mar. 14-16.