Backstage Access: Michael MacLean

Have you ever wondered what it would be like backstage at The Centre? Wonder no more – we’re starting a new feature called Backstage Access where we chat with the talented crew who work behind the scenes at Centre In The Square and find out more about what it takes to get a show running.

We begin with our Assistant Stage Electrician, Projection and Video Technician, Michael MacLean.

Q: What do you do at The Centre?

A: I’m responsible for the maintenance of all the lighting equipment as well as the maintenance and operation of all the video projection equipment. That being said, the crew here help each other out, so it’s not uncommon for me to be the assistant sound guy on a show, or help out the carpenters with the scenery and props.

Q: Was working in theatre something you wanted to do?

A: Absolutely. My first experience was in the second week of high school. The tech crew fell sick for our Niner Night dance and we were asked if we wanted to volunteer. Lighting was always easy for me so I said yes.

Q: Take us through a day in your life.

A: My day typically starts at 8AM. We gather in the loading dock, off load the scenery, props and equipment being brought in by the show. Terry Hynes, my department head and I will connect with the touring lighting crew and decide what their needs are and whether they’re using our in house equipment. Then we proceed to put the show together which can be done in a few hours or over the course of a few days like with The Book of Mormon.

Most shows use a portion of our in house equipment at some point or another, like our front lighting that’s up in the ceiling because it saves time and it’s already up there. We then focus the lights and when its performance time, I’ll be on hand as the Deck Electrician with a cue sheet from the touring crew of what I need to make the magic happen. Or I could be called upon to run the lighting console.

After the show, we take it all down and load it on the truck and it all goes away – they’re off doing it somewhere else, and we’re on to the next show.

Q: What’s the best part of the job?

A: We’re constantly doing something different every day, so that keeps us entertained. Before working at The Centre, I operated a lighting company and the highlight of my career was working with President Bill Clinton and he’s pretty cool.

Personally there’s always something new to learn and you never stop learning. I’ve been lucky to have a hand in the purchasing and the decision-making of the video technology that we’ve invested in the last couple of years. The technology is changing and becoming more advanced week to week, making it a bit of a technological hill to climb. But we’re getting there and that’s what makes us great.