By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Of all the things that could possibly create challenges for the McNary High School students working behind the scenes to put on a steampunk-themed production of The Tempest, the biggest was one they weren’t expecting: brown pants.
“We’ve only got two pairs of brown pants for guys, and even those need tailoring,” said Danielle Maass, the drama department’s go-to seamstress and part of the technical team on Celtic stage productions.
However, the behind-the-scenes team has come up with more than their own share of coups for blending the Bard and Victorian Age science fiction.
The Tempest is Shakespeare’s tale of a dishonored duke, Prospero, who seeks to restore his daughter to her rightful place in society. Steampunk, for the uninitiated, is a sub-genre of science fiction featuring steam-powered machinery for uses far beyond the scope of what it was capable. In present day imaginations, steampunk usually relies heavily on rivets, goggles, gears of all shape and size and lots and lots of brown.
“We have lots of metallic colors and browns and blacks,” said make-up artist Maddie Valish. “It’s like a grungy Victorian style. There’s a lot of soot.”
One of the tech team’s coups came as they were stripping down an old bike wheel. They planned to take it completely apart and kitbash the pieces into other props. When director Dallas Myers walked in, he mentioned the need for a ship wheel on a boat that wrecks during the course of the play. It was the tech crew that figured out how to add bolts to the rim that act as handles for the cast members.
Elise LeDuc’s favorite project thus far has been working on a pair of cyborg arms, one of which she will get to wear on stage.
“It’s got two sizes of pipes, one for the upper arm and one for the lower arm. We’re going to connect them with dryer hose and then attach them to a football shoulder pad,” she said.
Props for next month’s play come in all sizes, but there’s a box of altered Nerf guns backstage that the girls were all too eager to show off.
“We’ve been working on the weapons and we’ve taken parts form all the stuff Michelle (Nelson) has been scavenging from Goodwill. We spray-painted rhinestones to make them look like rivets,” said Alamjit Nagra.
Nelson had hoped that the team would get the chance to produce a big puppet for Caliban, one of the play’s primary protagonists.
“We had a lot of fun coming up with ideas, like the big puppets they use for Lion King stage productions, but Myers decided he wanted to rely on the actors,” Nelson said.
All of the crew members are hopeful that their work earns them a little more respect given how much time they are putting into creating a world.
“The tech side is going to shine through in this one. People are going to start appreciating us a lot more,” LeDuc said.