The Richland Drama Department (RLC) is hosting the “Dallas Independent School District Tech Olympics” Nov. 10 in Fannin Hall for 155 students who are taking technical theater classes at 11 Dallas high schools. They are: W. H. Adamson, Bryan Adams, Carter, Conrad, Hillcrest, Molina, North Dallas, Seagoville, Spruce, Thomas Jefferson and Townview. It will be an all-day affair and is the second year RLC has participated in the competition.
Jennifer Owen, RLC coordinator of technical theater and coordinator of the Tech Olympics, said there will be two parts to the competition: a morning session that focuses on design elements and an afternoon session where students will move to technical skills challenges. Rebecca Maymi is the DISD Tech Olympics organizer.
The morning session will include such activities as mask and set design with Clare DeVries, hair, makeup and scenery.
Owen said the students will be given a play or a scenario to design and find materials they think might facilitate that design. Four students from each school will work to execute the project in a two-hour period.
“A number of part-time technicians working at Richland and in the Metroplex are going to come in and help provide feedback to students on these skills challenges,” Owen said.
A mystery event is also part of the program, she said. It’s a skill that is commonly needed for production.
“Basically, what it will test is their ability to work as a team under pressure,” she said. “It’s a timed event and takes care of details. That’s a lot of what technical theater is. It will give them some measure against their peers as to what they have really taken on board.”
For those students not competing in the design competition, Noah Allen, a Richland alumnus, will teach a one-hour workshop on LED robotic lighting technology and do a similar workshop for teachers as well.
Richland is providing a pizza lunch for students, faculty and staff. The DISD will provide some ‘Tech Olympic’ T-shirts. Owen said a number of judges from other DCCCD colleges, including Mountain View, El Centro, Eastfield, Brookhaven, as well as the Episcopal School of Dallas will also take part in the program.
In the afternoon session involving skills challenges, Owen said there will be a number of part-time technicians working at Richland and in the Metroplex who are going to come in and help provide feedback. It also includes drama professor Gregory Lush and other drama students who were not part of the cast of “The Shadow Box,” who are away at the KCACTF competition at Panola College in Carthage, Texas.
Lush will moderate the Tech Panel discussion along with Owen, Allen from Hog High End Lighting, Richard Tregilgas, owner of Free Arcade and Adrian Churchill, technical director with Dallas Shakespeare Festival. Lush will serve as Richland master of ceremonies as well. Miguel Maymi of Bryan Adams will serve as DISD master of ceremonies.
The competition will include a timed mystery event that will test the students’ ability to work as a team under pressure, Owen said.
“That’s a lot of what technical theater is,” she said. “And it will also give them some indication of where they fit … where do they need to improve or where are they exceling as technicians?”
At 3 p.m. the students will meet in the Performance Hall where a tech theater panel, including Allen and Owen, will answer student questions. Miguel Maymi of Bryan Adams High School will serve as DISD master of ceremonies. Lush will also take the students on a tour of our campus and show them what life as a Richland student would be like.
As far as prizes, one school will be declared the winner. Three individual student winners will be invited to attend a Richland tech rehearsal in the RLC spring semester.
“They will shadow our student technicians and work with faculty over the course of our technical rehearsals, putting together either ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ or ‘The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail’, both Richland spring productions,” Owen said. They will be invited back to see the show.
Owen said that Dallas is an important place in the United States for theater students interested in technical theater. There are a lot of companies developing materials, such as VariLight, Phillips and Strand, who create robotic lighting.
“We have a lot of high-end employers, and Dallas is one of the largest entertainment markets in the U.S. as far as jobs and things,” Owen said. “This is an industry where employers are looking for employees. In the DCCCD, we have the professionals to help train the next generation of students. It was kind of a natural fit.”