Summer Youth Theatre Technical Director Samaria Fleig recently graduated from Emporia State University with her BFA and has found a home here in Lawrence. She loves all areas of the theatre both on and off the stage. This fall she will step into her role as both the Production Manager for the Performing Arts and Technical Director at the Arts Center. Before settling back here in Kansas, she spent a few years in California working with Coast Kids Theatre, New Vision Theatre Group, and the Star Theatre Co. She is so honored to be working at the Lawrence Arts Center with this talented team. Some of her favorite stage management credits include Wait Until Dark, Love, Sex and the IRS, A Kansas Nutcracker, and Grotesque Arabesque.
When did you start working as a technical director?
I started school at Cowley College, then Wichita State and I’d taken all my theatre classes but I hadn’t taken my tech classes yet.
I was in New Mexico and California working in theatre for a while and when I came back to Kansas, I finished my degree at Emporia State.
During my time there I started taking some tech classes and I really fell in love with it, especially design and lighting, and it really started to speak to me. I began working at the Lawrence Arts Center last summer.
Could you describe what tech does on a show from beginning to end?
They say if you don’t notice the tech, then we’re doing it right.
In this class, I’m teaching students from 8 through 18 years old (including interns). I have 22 students in the June class and we do everything from painting and building the sets, to lighting and props. It’s really a group effort.
For this particular show, Beauty and the Beast, we brought in a welder who has been teaching the basics of welding.
The best thing about this class is that the students find out about talents they didn’t even know that they possessed. Their confidence builds and then they’re able to step back and see all of it come together.
What tactics do you use when in charge of a large group of people to get everyone to work together?
It’s tough, especially when you have so many different personalities because tech is so task-driven.
I think it consists of getting the students to try new things and finding out what really gets their attention. And when they find what their area of interest is we put them into groups so they can do what they enjoy doing. Its amazing how committed these students get when they find something that they are really interested in.
What has been your biggest challenge working on Beauty and the Beast? What has been your favorite part?
Anytime you do a big show in a short amount of time, that in itself can cause challenges. A big challenge is trying to balance the timing. You have to figure out the best time management schedule to keep the kids engaged and busy while getting things done at the same time.
My favorite part of working on this show is seeing all the pieces come together and to step back and be able to see the final product. The tech rehearsal is the longest and the hardest, but that’s a really cool part too because you’re able to see the actors, dancers and everything blending in with these beautiful backdrops. It’s really stunning.
What do you find rewarding about being a technical director?
Seeing these students get excited and so motivated, that’s the best part. It’s great to see them get that tech bug, because these are life skills that they are going to carry with them forever. Maybe they won’t stick with tech forever, but they will use these skills later on. Just seeing them grow and find what speaks to them has been awesome.