For several Sunday afternoons, the stage of the Cole Auditorium at Richmond Community College became a classroom for students taking a new Stage Hand Certification course through RCC’s Workforce and Economic Development Department.
Gary Short, Assistant Director and Technical Coordinator for the Cole Auditorium, gave students an introduction to the history of theater as a way of explaining how theater has developed, then went on to sessions covering different aspects of production.
“Taking a course is a great way to feel comfortable about beginning to work on a technical crew in a theater,” said Short. “We spent two days on lighting, and half a day each on sound and rigging. I think they can feel good about accepting an entry-level position on a crew.”
A theater stage is much like a construction zone and safety is a key issue.
“Thinking of your safety and that of the actors and audience should always be at the forefront of your mind,” said Short. “It makes ‘I don’t know’ the most important three words on the stage. It’s much better to admit you’re inexperienced and have someone show you the right way to do something than to risk doing it incorrectly.”
Several students were from Scotland County and also take drama courses at Scotland High School.
“I have always liked theater and thought this was a way to get closer to it,” said Scott Poage of Laurinburg. “If I could get to work in it here, maybe I’d make contacts I could use later in life.”
Leverne Hamer, of Laurinburg, likes acting and thought taking the course would give him a greater knowledge of theater.
Sherry Jenks, of Rockingham, is a theater veteran and began working with the Cole Auditorium on its first show, “Hello! Dolly!”
“It’s a refresher for me,” said Jenks. “You don’t get the history during your working hours. This has been a passion for me since I was small. I participated in children’s theater at the Richmond Community Theatre and have loved it ever since. I’ve worked in everything here at the Cole except costuming. It’s something I really enjoy and hope others will explore.”
Short hopes to offer this general course again and expand it to include courses that focus solely on one aspect of theater production. He brings 25 years of experience to the classroom and has a degree in theatrical design and technology from Lynchburg College. He is currently a graduate student in theater at Regent University. He is in his fourth season with the Cole.