Categorized | Feature

Tech student aspires to be set designer, playwright

Lauren Hannani culture editor

As the curtains rise and the actors enter the stage, the audience goes quiet and the show begins. However, for senior Aidan Martin-Cox and his crewmates, the tech room’s chaos has just started, with the set, lights, music, microphones, and everything but the performers under their control.

Since his freshman year, Martin-Cox has been enrolled in the Scenic Design and Production elective at school, which is responsible for controlling all technical aspects of a show, from the set design to the sound coordination. His interest in the program began in middle school, when he had the chance to see how a theater production really works behind the curtains.

“One of my sister’s friends was working tech, so I got to take a tour backstage, and I was like, ‘This is something I want to do when I get in high school,’” Martin-Cox said. “At the time, I just thought it’d be something I did in school for fun, but when I started doing it, I was like, ‘Ok, this is something I want to do as a career.’”

Since then, Martin-Cox has built sets and worked on light design for various Theater Arts Workshop (TAW) productions, including “Guys and Dolls” and “Bombity of Errors,” and has stage managed the Dance Company show as well. For him, the most exciting part of the process is figuring out how to make set design ideas become reality.

“My favorite part is looking at a script and finding out how to make it come to life, or looking at words on a paper and making it something that I not only want to look at but everyone will like looking at, and most importantly gets the playwrights’ points across,” Martin-Cox said. “That’s my favorite thing is bringing a story to life through the set design.”

However, not all scripts have been easy to work with in his experience.

“With ‘Bombity of Errors,’  it was Shakespeare but all written in rap, and it was very difficult to look at it and wrap my mind around how to make it visualized,” Martin-Cox said. “That one was definitely a challenge.”

Another challenging part of tech for Martin-Cox and the rest of the crew is running the show, which Martin-Cox describes as a “controlled chaos” for everyone behind the scenes.

“We have a system in place where if something goes wrong, we know what to do, but still sometimes it’s, ‘Oh shoot, what do we do now,’” he said. “The most chaotic is tech week, the week before the show where we do all of our rehearsals after school…it feels like everything’s barely going right, and then you sit back and realize that not much was going wrong, it was just in that moment.”

Senior Emma Taylor, who attended the International Thespian Festival with Martin-Cox last summer, was impressed by his passion and dedication to his work.

“He’s passionate for sure,” Taylor said. “There were college auditions and recruitments as well as workshops and competitions there, and he was very prepared and excited.”

In fact, Martin-Cox has recently committed to St. Mary’s University of Chicago, where he will study technical theater. Within the next few years, he hopes to take his passion for both set design and playwriting into the work field.

“In addition to tech, I also do playwriting, which works in with all that, so I see myself doing set design and playwriting, both sides of the industry–both performance and technical,” Martin-Cox said. “So…honestly any industry: film, theater, television…anything.”

Although he’s not exactly sure where he’s going to end up in a couple of years, Martin-Cox is excited to continue his work with technical theater and make himself and the team proud.

“The most rewarding part is probably the end of opening night, when you’re done and you’ve realized that you did it…all the prep work,” he said. “The feeling that we actually did this, that all of this paid off in the end. It makes the pain of tech week and everything building up to it worth it, just to have that moment of ‘we did it.’”

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