Here's to the people who make Spoleto work

The invisibles

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At the photo opp, the show's director called up to her technical manager for a lighting cue. When that cue failed to materialize in a timely fashion, she guessed at the cause and shook her head. "You're playing Angry Birds, aren't you?" As an aside, she told us, "He's obsessed with Angry Birds."

The tech called down, "Am not!" but it was unclear which accusation he was denying: the Angry Birds obsession or the idea that he'd been obsessively Angry Birds-ing when she'd asked for the lighting cue.

It all worked out: the lighting cue came up and no blood was spilled.

The other day, some crew members took a pre-show breath of air together outside the Dock Street Theatre's stage door. It was a moment for them to both decompress and gear up. In a short while, they'd be up to their eyebrows in concentrated effort. Their chatter carefully avoided any mention of the show they were about to help bring to life. There wasn't much laughter. There was an unspoken camaraderie.

Studying this little band of brothers (and sisters) made me realize how much we, as Spoleto enthusiasts, take their efforts for granted. It's only when a glitch creeps in — a mic fails, a lighting cue goes awry, the smooth transition from scene to scene staggers — that we think of them at all. If they're doing their jobs well, they're invisible to us. Except they're not. Not really. Look around.

They're the ones tucked behind those slab-like sound boards full of blinky lights and tantalizing rows of switches and knobs that look like they belong in Houston at Mission Control. They inhabit that forest of laptops that seems to be the nexus of creation, the heart of all these theatrical extravaganzas. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, may be the order of the day but there they are, with Oz-like power and often in plain view, yet invisible.

And so they slip along behind the scenes, working their backsides off, their names rarely making it into our programs. They're those kids you see all over downtown hauling instruments around from venue to venue: part of the hardest working orchestra in show business. Silhouetted in the ghostly glow of LEDs, they're the ones doing all the tech-y whiz-bang stuff only they understand. They're the ones who set up chairs at the Cistern. They specialize in programming lighting effects, video feeds and sound. They take our tickets and show us to our seats. (The really selfless ones sell us their beverages! God love them.)

If you ever wondered why movie credits have two or three soundtrack tunes tacked over the top of them: this is why. It takes that many people to make it all work. To bring the vision of the few to the eyes, ears, and souls of the many.

I make a note to procure a hat so that I may doff it in salute to these talented, unheralded folks who make Spoleto a seamless pleasure for us all. Thank you. And stay thirsty, my friends.

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