What Lights You Up?
Student spotlight: Emmett L. ’28
The lights are low and the spotlight is on center stage as middle school performers line up to rehearse their next musical number in the Woodman Center on a Thursday afternoon. In the audience, two shadow figures behind the glow of computer screens are orchestrating the perfect ambience to set the scene.
“Stand by lights!” exclaims Production Manager Christopher Hoyt.
“150 and 152 out. Can I have a 14 and 24 at 60? 13 at 60. 14 and 24 at 25, Emmett?”
MBinRep is prepping for its middle school presentation of Into the Woods, Sondheim’s musical about fairytales come to life. At the lightboard with Chris is sixth grader Emmett L. who’s starting his own Moses Brown story this year having joined the sixth grade in September.
Over the past few weeks, Emmett has been learning how to use the Lightboard program, which is a system that keeps a record of the lighting cues and levels as the performance moves through each scene in the script. He takes cues from another member of the crew as the show is performed, then locks in the different settings so the lights should automatically change during the performance. This show in particular depends on a significant amount of play of light and dark as characters move through their stories or navigate dramatic paths, setting off through the dark woods. It could be a lot of pressure for a young middle schooler, but Emmett is in his element and not fazed by the challenge. In fact, he’s thriving on it, stating, “this isn’t the most stressful thing I’ve done – I’ve been more stressed when accidentally missing a homework assignment!”
Emmett got his first shot at the lightboard while working tech for the Lower School’s recent musical, Lion King Kids. Emmett is new to Moses Brown this year, and wanted to try out an after school activity. He had participated in the drama program at this last school, but found he preferred being behind-the-scenes rather than on-stage.
Emmett appreciated how MB’s theatre program encourages students to try different things to see what appeals to them. You can be on the stage and pushed out of your comfort zone, or see what calls to you and learn what you’re good at or excited about. After discovering their passion, students work on an apprenticeship model to hone in on a specific skill. Chris Hoyt has taken Emmett under his wing to show him the lighting design ropes.
“Emmett asked me everyday for a week, ‘When are we doing lighting!?’” said Chris.
Normally Christopher works with an upper school or eighth grade students to help out on the lightboard. It’s unusual to have a 6th grader take the reins and get up to speed so quickly.
“I had never heard of doing lighting for a show until doing this,” said Emmett, “and I would definitely like to do it again!”
Emmett says he likes the theatre environment, and how it offers many ways to participate, on and off the stage, depending on interests. “It’s terrific that Emmett is making an impact like this,” says Jared Schott. “He’s been a wonderful addition to our community.”
It’s your time to shine, Emmett! We can’t wait to see the show and the many more performances you light up into the future.