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A day at the theatre

Scecina theatre students watched a performance of "The Mousetrap" at the Indiana Repertory Theatre and then got a behind-the-scenes tour.

By Beth Murphy


It was an Agatha Christie “whodunit.” Twenty-nine students from Scecina’s theatre classes entered the Indiana Repertory Theatre in Downtown Indianapolis in search of “how they dunit.” They came out in awe of how much occurs behind the scenes to create that theatre magic.

The students attended an IRT student matinee performance of Christie’s “The Mousetrap” on May 11. They received an entire theatre experience that included a discussion with the actors; a question-and-answer session about stage lighting by the theatre’s master electrician; and a tour of the costume-making and prop rooms. The students were full of questions for the staff.

Scecina theatre teacher Kathryn Wetzel works hard to expose her students to all aspects of theatre, from acting and the development of theatre, to all the behind-the-scenes tasks involved with directing, costumes, makeup, sets, props, lights, and sounds. A field trip to see it in action was important, she said. Besides, some of her students had never before attended a live theatre performance.

“The Mousetrap” production features many instances of actors switching lights on and off. The students were fascinated to learn the lights weren’t operated by the actors but controlled by an intricate web of cues and signals from the crew. It all seemed so real on stage.

Sophomore Kristina Streeval was impressed with “how much effort you have to put into costume designing and where the lighting should go and all the cues for the light switches. And it was crazy how long it took to build the set.”

After a discussion with four actors from the play, senior Alex Quinn said he realized “how very driven” a person has to be to pursue a career in theatre.

Ms. Wetzel said she was impressed by the production as well as the IRT staff.

“They made special arrangements for us to eat lunch there while the master electrician spoke to us about the lighting, one area in particular I could not adequately cover in a classroom,” Ms. Wetzel said. “It was gratifying to hear my students say things like ‘I never noticed how many lights there were before.’

“They learned far more from this experience than any textbook or YouTube video,” she said. “It was also really fun to spend time with the students in a more informal setting, such as during our walk to and from the theatre. I think they had a great time, and I’m really glad everything worked out to make it happen.”

Before the tour ended, the staff asked the Scecina group if they had any more questions. One of the students shouted out: "When we can we come back?"

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