By Taliyah Emory-Muhammad '19
I came to NCS in eighth grade, and if you had told me that I would end up spending most of my free time doing theater during high school, I would have laughed and called you crazy. I initially joined tech crew in eighth grade because my new friends said it would be fun, and it would be a good way to make new friends. Little did I know I’d be spending hundreds of hours working in Trapier, along with the best friends and teachers I could ask for. After eighth grade I knew I wanted to continue working backstage so I worked in the scene shop, was on set crew for the productions that year, and began the track of the highest-commitment art classes I’ve ever taken.
I began designing at the beginning of the second semester of my sophomore year for my Advanced Design class. During that tech week, I was the most stressed I ever had been in my whole life. This past January I had a college interview in which the interviewer asked me about the first show I designed. I told them it was 42nd Street, and they replied, “Wow, that must have been a lot.” It was. I was usually the first one in the theater, arriving two hours before tech rehearsal began, and I was usually the last student to leave, as I needed to discuss with the faculty on stuff I needed to work on. I had this routine for almost every other show I’ve designed lighting, as I learned how hard it is to work on a production while being a full-time high school student. I began designing scenery in my junior year. It wasn’t as time-consuming as lighting design, but I still had to work hard to meet deadlines and make the set look as good as I could. A lot of designing is learning how to use the tools and technology to make theater, and knowing how to communicate on a huge team. But when you get down to it, it’s just finding out the best way to make my art work with everyone else’s art. It’s harder than it sounds, but it’s incredibly rewarding to say “we did it!” after closing every show.
Even though I know I’ve designed for eleven shows, I still get kind of shocked when I remind myself that I’ve spent over 700 hours working in theater. I guess it doesn’t feel like that much when I’m having loads of fun with my teachers and classmates. Last fall, along with the other Thespian Society officers, I had the privilege of inducting new members for the first time. The theater was filled with excitement for the new school year. It reminded me of my first year working on productions as a freshman and of why I returned to theater year after year.