Education

BEHIND THE SCENES

APPLAUDING ST. BONAVENTURE’S TECH CREW

By LOU PONSI     6/11/2024

THE RECENT STAGE production of “Peter Pan” presented by the drama club at St. Bonaventure Catholic School (SBS) in Huntington Beach featured as much artistry behind the scenes as on the stage.

MR. BENJAMINS, BENJAMIN TADROS AND DEMI BOUKIS ARE HARD AT WORK DURING A RECENT PRODUCTION OF “PETER PAN” AT ST. BONAVENTURE CATHOLIC SCHOOL. PHOTOS COURTESY OF ALAN WENDELL

Credit goes to the skilled and enthusiastic SBS Tech Crew, the group of students responsible for the lighting, sound and special effects, all coming together to create a masterful theatrical offering.

Not only did the contributions of the tech crew result in a better entertainment experience for the audience, but the skills learned by the students can result in more opportunities for students interested in theater production, who would rather take on roles behind the scenes.

“Since I was like knee-high, I’ve always wanted to produce a movie,” said fourth grader Andrew Callas, a member of the tech crew. “I thought, it’s not only the actors that are in this. It is also the tech crew themselves.”

TECH CREW MEMBER GRUMMAN PERATT WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR MUTING, WHICH INVOLVED ADJUSTING THE TONE AND VOLUME OF SOUNDS AND VOICES, DURING A RECENT SCHOOL PERFORMANCE OF “PETER PAN.”

After Callas began to master the movie editing app, iMovie, his father suggested he look into the role of a video director and stage manager.

For “Peter Pan,” Callas received a primer on using video editing equipment and just figured things out for himself from there.

“And because of the experience this year, I definitely will join it next year as well,” he said.

St. Bonaventure teacher Heather Swienton oversees the drama club, which she started eight years ago with just a handful of students.

Between the performers, tech crew and other behind the scenes participants, the club has grown to the point where stage shows become school-wide productions.

ST. BONAVENTURE CATHOLIC SCHOOL TEACHER HEATHER SWIENTON OVERSEES THE SCHOOL’S DRAMA CLUB.

“It was always my dream to have a drama club,” said Swienton, who participated in theater production in college and started a drama club at another school before coming to St. Bonaventure.

“I think it is amazing because she has really embraced our students’ interest,” said Vanessa Frei, St. Bonaventure director of marketing and enrollment.

Third grader Demi Boukis was in charge of the music and sound effects for “Peter Pan” and was responsible for inserting the proper sound effect at just the right time.

For example, the character Tinker Bell, who is a fairy, didn’t speak because fairies’ voices are too tiny to be heard by humans. So Boukis had to use bell sound effect to let the audience know Tinker Bell was speaking.

“It was really awesome seeing everything come together from start to finish,” the third grader said.

Tech crew member Grumman Peratt was responsible for muting, which involved adjusting the tone and volume of sounds and voices.

Peratt gained experience in muting from streaming Sunday Masses from St. Bonaventure during the coronavirus pandemic, when many parishioners couldn’t attend Mass in person.

“When I first wanted to start doing tech, my mom wanted me to do something for the church to help,” Peratt said. “She wanted me to join the children’s choir, but I didn’t really like that. They got me more in the sound, and then I started helping with tech for church.”

Seventh grader Benjamin Tadros manned the console, which involved adjusting the performers’ microphones.

“I would always make sure the music’s not too loud, not too quiet and make sure like everyone’s mic is working,” Tadros said.

The tech team coordinator is Peter Benjamins, grandfather of a St. Bonaventure student, who spent his career working with sound and lighting equipment in the entertainment industry.

Benjamins would like to grow the program and use potential grant funding from the Diocese of Orange to build a media studio.

“So, the idea is to create, to enable them to create maybe social media or media that tells our story,” Benjamins said. “We’re a faith-based organization. So, this is our big vision.”

Callas produced a video highlighting the tech crew, which was shown to the audiences who packed the parish hall to see “Peter Pan” over two weekends in May.

The video was shown to the audience who packed into the parish hall prior to the start of the play.

Benjamins added: They are “the architects of illusion, the technical wizards and crafty ghosts who shape our stories from behind the curtains. Without them, the stage is bare, a story untold. Without them, the magic is gone.”