Behind the Scenes of Puffs

Sydney Wang ’25 in Arts | May 26, 2024

          Puffs, this year’s Spring Play, garnered countless rounds of applause and accolades. Immediately after the show ended, crowds of enthusiastic students, awe-inspired faculty, and proud parents rushed onto the stage to congratulate the actors who successfully reenacted parodies of Harry Potter characters with skill and humor. However, behind the colorful furnishings, transformative lighting, Death Buddy cloaks, and dark curtains that magically hid actors stood a trained crew of 18 technicians who spent hours behind the backdrop. During the show, the tech crew members were solely accompanied by weak, blue lights as they remained alert and on standby, ready to deal with any quick costume changes or emergencies. When there were no rehearsals, many of these tech crew members dedicated a significant amount of time to working in the scenery and costume shops, expediting the process of refining all set pieces and actors’ props. Without these committed production crew members, the show would never have been so enlivened and magically brought to life. 

          After serving as a technician in over 10 shows, I can confidently conclude that working backstage for Puffs has been, perhaps, my most insightful and remarkable experience during my tenure in the Periwig Club. I would like to highlight the amount of complex details that Director of Puffs and English Teaching Fellow Gabrielle Lescarde chose to embrace in the technical design of the show—whether it would be the 400 lighting cues designed solely by Anton Popowitz ’26 (which is surprising considering the rarity of student lighting designers at Lawrenceville), the intricacy of programming 200 sound cues for the show (which I, as the Sound Board Operator for this production, got to participate in engineering!), or the vast array of props and costumes that vividly embodied the plot. Additionally, the show incorporated technicians into several scenes, breaking the “fourth wall” by allowing technicians to interact with actors and wear Death Buddy cloaks. This feature enhanced the connection between technicians and forged a collective bond between the crew and the cast. 

          “We had to do a lot of weird tricks backstage…I think one of the most interesting tasks a crew member had to do, at one point, was chop up a gummy rat so it looked like slugs,” commented Assistant Stage Manager Suzie Nguyen ’26, “[I got to work with] a lovely group of people, and I think that was one of the most fun tech week experience we’ve had thus far.” 

          Ella Kennedy ’24 echoed a similar sentiment as the Assistant Director for this show. She especially appreciated how “everything fully came together after everyone put in so much work offstage for things to happen.” Tricky scenes, such as the fight between Martina Yanovich ’26 (the dragon) and Eli Lacey ’25 (Cedric Diggory) in the First Task of the Triwizard Tournament and the grandiose Finale Battle scenes, came out as beautifully as Kennedy could have imagined them to be. When asked about her overall experience, she described backstage as being “purely chaotic” during dress rehearsals and performances. Other shows, such as the annual Winterfest and Dance Series, were generally easier to run due to simpler technical designs and a more straightforward procedure for technicians to ensure actors were in place and ready to enter a scene. In Puffs, “you have actors exiting from one side of the stage and immediately entering from the opposite side” in addition to the amount of “running around caused by prop and costume changes,” Kennedy commented. 

          Even though many technicians appear confident, as if we constantly know what to do and how to perfectly run the show, we merely put on a facade to uphold professionalism and disguise our inner panic. However, I believe working as a technician in the production of Puffs allowed all of us to apply pre-existing knowledge to conquer an unprecedented challenge. Overall, Puffs was a success and wrapped up a year of wonderful Periwig productions. We can’t wait to continue working as a united team of technicians in future productions!