“Invisible threads” among Hidden Heroes

Perspective.  IMG_5180Look closely at that image.  Some, including me, are scared to death of that image.  Why?  You have in front of you what you do see and what you don’t see.  What you do seem to see, whether you realize it or not, is the aftermath of emotion.  Stories that could fill those very clothes and fascinate you, pushing you towards what you know is the inevitable, a finish, which is preparing to answer whether your heart is large enough to store the very memories that enliven those clothes and that created a different world for anyone and everyone, in front, on, and behind the stage.  Tonight I felt as if I was in a Dicken’s tale able, internalizing a totally different view of everything I have known up to this point…

Also important to note, when life hands you lemons, you come out the victor with lemonade or you come out to succumb to the sourness.  I realized that in the midst of potential problems that occur, in this case technical problems and sometimes timeliness of individuals coming in, which often and in this case the cast was not even aware of, the whole cast marched on with a confidence and sureness that they possessed from the very first night, which being around all the cast in such close quarters behind stage, it is IMPOSSIBLE to not know the talent they bring to the stage, day in and day out, even if you only saw one show.

The amazing third show of Les Miserables, and the emotions that were being pulled from seemingly invisible threads without a moment’s awareness – were actually the feelings that were tied to every participants’ heartstrings.  Here was where the real wok was occurring, right in the midsts of running, preparing, singing, cueing, and practicing, before displaying one’s one soul in front to others.  I would found out by the end of the night this would occur in many places to result in one representations of everyone’s personality, how often is one able be participate in an event like that?

Being invited to see what occurs on a before the show, as well as behind the scenes was an amazing gift and opportunity and a certain level of trust that I wanted to be able to capture some of the magic that comes together and creates Les Miserables.  Deathly afraid of how unkind the darkness would treat me, it was amazing to see how Fiona was able to take time from pep to set the setting of a camera for a world pretty much enveloped in darkness, who else better to set the camera straight then a fellow Tech Club Member?  I would soon find out, there truly was much more than met the eye here on stage, where a level head, an ability to foresee an issue coming up, as well as being able to take pride in what many would not sometimes know, congratulate, to recognize you for takes precedence for the success of the overall show.

From the very start, with several instances of exceptions during this show (a restart, a nose plant on stage, close calls with a dropping curtain (of course with a very large steel pole inside) and more that will not be called out specifically), the massive number of incidents and activity going on in three corners of the production – wow.  This was NOT the cake walk it seems from the front of the stage, and a completely different curtain had been raised before my eyes this evening.  Not many get to connect the dots to see the relationships NOR realize what is happening from the lights, sound, and side stages and to catch these glimpse brought an even more realistic challenge to what it takes to create a successful production, right to my very camera.

Being invited by Yair and Enrique to what was literally a new interpretation of Les Miserables, opened truly a new definition of what this amazing experience would also mean.  I had to prepare myself for a conclusion that I was not ready for.  Pushing this out of my mind, I repositioned, refocused, snuck, and took in the claps on my shoulder, inquiries and smiles that welcomed mea a whole new world of Les Miserables.  I can never repay or thank enough an opportunity to peer into the lives of all that run within seconds, go through layers and layers of makeup, clothing, as well as time, but I can capture the magic that each person involved has at any one particular moment in a production that touches everyone from head to their very should.  You could literally sense alongside the sense of urgency to be in that very specific spot at a specific time, how much this has come to mean to every single participant up to this third evening.  That is a magic that hardly anyone can put-up on a shelf or recreate, and so this night was one of many that would be so precious, I felt I needed to give my all to honor this amazing aspect.

What you hardly ever see, and realize even when you are told, is the amazing commitment, humbleness, and skill of the Theatre Tech Club, yet in small bursts you see and hear the amazing pride that fills the very same clothes the actors and actresses wear, all with the same goal, leaving a piece of their skill and personality behind for others to be filled with an excitement as well, with no expectation of the same congratulatory roses or cards others might get, but that is not the point.  Realizing this adding able to be humble enough to see the fruits of their skills come back in other forms is the key for many nights of success

You would think seeing all this behind the scenes would ruin or change the way you viewed Les Miserables as a whole, as well as seeing multiple shows. However, I have realized that this view I was privileged enough to see would live in other places in my memory long after the show, and I know the exciting, rushed, and frustrating moments that all came together would also linger and lead each of the amazing participants in Les Miserables to the path they genuinely felt drawn to, and I am not sure how you capture that.  Impossible, but feeling that seemed to be absolutely enough among so many participating individuals.

A brief list of tributes that might or might not surprise you:

Ceci B – With anyone that is as excited as the actors and actresses, I found this within Cecelia, a youthful spirit that was seemingly everywhere all over the sides and on stage when needed.  She could be seeing pulling, pushing, dragging, moving, and more and it was always usually with a smile on her face.  Most would agree here positive energy was a clear indication she was not only goo, but loved where se was and what she was doing.

Marcela B – Literally a whirlwind of activity and movement every second occurring around us, I always had a third eye for what was coming, what was going, what was in the very spot I was standing, ducking, and there was Marcela, smiling, talking, and still in the middle of making it all happen – her confidence in everyone around here showed me how everyone is able to just internalize, “We’re on it!”  Amazing.

Carlos C and Victor A – While I was on the left stage this dynamic duo was on right stage.  I wish I would have had more chances to be on that side of the stage, however, with so much activity and bustling, I decided it best to stay on one side. Yet, I new how much activity was happening on this side of the stage, and seeing furniture and moving occurring all the time on the opposite, I know that Carlos and Victor were every bit as important due to the activity coming in, out, off and on stage from across the way.  It was impossible to not see how busy and connected they were to the musical all throughout.

Hugo C – I was stunned by the beauty of the conductor and the orchestra, the way they moved in and out, almost a swaying with the scenes and music that literally felt as if it rolled right though you.  However, I did see the exact same beauty tonight.  Peering from the sound/light booth, on scenes that appeared to me fresh as if seen for the first time, the cues and poise Hugo gave to each of his signals to go ahead with an effect, a dimming, and being able to run from one light to another when needed carried the poise, patience, and knowledge of making magic from the booth to the stage. This is something you can only appreciate from seeing and feeling in silence, while it all unfolds in front of you.  What am amazing gift I witnessed from the very hands that he gave a signal to go forth, and the gifts he gave of knowledge to all those around him to make magic.

Enrique E  – Literally taking me in and making me feel as if I belonged there, despite being in the way off and on and trying to be obscure in view, Enrique literally toured me, informed me, made me laugh, and pointed out so many aspects I would have NEVER picked up on.  From letting everyone around him share in a part of being recognized, he made sure I did not miss anything either that I did not know, and that was alot.  And um, well, okay, I will NOT tell you who is responsible for the shot that kills Gavroche but I WILL tell you who has perfected the Tech stance – Enrique :).

Emilio F – “It will all work out, it always does.”  Amid a swell of panic wondering if my presence would mean nothing if I was unable to produce anything from this night of stage bombing, Emilio had not thoughts on the matter except, “I wonder how many amazing images will come out…”  I would always want such a person on my side, in my corner, and my side of the stage with that mentality, and I can now see how amazing the Tech Club is not only action, but in thought.

Patricia G  – Following the beams of light that came from the very lights focused on the characters on stage, Patricia was one of many of the humblest members just hoping her position was appreciated and needed.  There is no doubt it was and IS a major component that goes unseen by all.  Yet, focusing her paths of light on everyone that was seen on stage, just amplified how talented and committed she is to Les Miserables, and being able to see the in action in the sound booth was one of the greatest gifts I ever received as the viewer of all that goes on beyond the stage.

IMG_4988Jose F H – A silent warrior I’d like to say, Jose was in the hot seat, literally, where he followed cues as well all night alongside Hugo and Enrique, and yes, it does get warm in the light and sound booth.  Yet, hardly a peep you heard from Jose and he marched right through all the scenes and provided that necessary elements – and to the audience below – all seemed perfect – amazing how that works!  Jose seemed to represent the ideal skilled individual who is able to march on without the presence of kudos, though deserves them, and walks away with a job well done.

Fiona K – The gentleness, know how, and skill of Fiona literally seeped out from the tense moments of preparing a prop SECONDS before it would hit stage, to the questions entertained and welcomed about setting a camera for crying out loud, to just the simple smile letting the Tech group around her and everyone else know that all was in good hands, a double WOW.  Fiona?  A true priceless and crucial element to the success of the Theatre Tech Club.

Manu K – Calm, present, and confident, and lit up with the blue that would define her as maintaining her cool yet proud of representing what she brings to the cast and production, I admire her easygoing and casual approach to getting the job done.  I loved the fact that she celebrated being a part of Tech Club with her chant with other Tech Club members, and she had every right to be proud.  Some people in a position of handling incoming transitions would be a little cocky, bossy, or just overall “I need to avoid her attitude” – I’ve worked with them on productions before but Manu

Maite L – Maite was able to be anywhere and everywhere and often silently. What is the most memorable picture was her wide-eyed taking in the musical from the very beginning, every time I saw her she was deep into the musical, as if it was the first time watching.  I also saw this intense interest in all that was involved with what she had to do, 100% committed and she was literally on the side, behind the curtain leg, moving a prop, pulling a prop, it was obvious within five minutes she was a major of the entire Theatre Tech Club.

Sharon M – The quiet and solid confidence Sharon gave to the spotlight that brought so much talent to all of us, and helped us focus literally and metaphorically on what lay before us can so be underestimated.  Yet, Sharon did in fact cover everything the audience and often characters in a production take for granted.  I can think of no two people than Patricia and Sharon to take in what can often be a thankless position, yet exhibiting the patience, follow through, and skill that many are not aware of to pull off an amazing, amazing show.

Emilio F – Emilio always seemed to be in the right place, at the right time, and even IF you knew everything was going to be okay, you KNEW it was by the end of the night.  THings might go wrong, yet, I never had a doubt that from the knowhow, or being able to be directed to the right person, or getting a vote of confidence when needed, aside from always being available to get this to there and from there to here, Emilio was another ajar aspect of how confidence could flow through one person to another in the dark OR the light.

Emilio Pinedo – Have you ever known there was help all around, yet often did not know how, when, or who was the source exactly.  Emilio was always around when and where needed and yet a silent ninja.  I found it reassuring just to know there was someone around when something would or could come up, and I did feel that Emilio was always on hand to make sure all went smoothly and to be there when needed.  Somehow this seems to be the feeling overall from the Theatre Tech Club, which makes them so important and amazing.

Nancy R – I just thought, Wizard of Oz.  I wondered the first two shows about that voice, who that voice was, what was that person thinking as I heard that voice in the seating area. For one night I was able to peer behind that curtain and see the calmness, knowledge, and confidence Nancy dimly dealt out that would begin the whole production.  As I thought on this, I realized, and often not spoken, how essential it was and is sometimes just to have a voice you can depend on, and this sometimes is enough to get you out on stage when you have hesitation, and just being able to get in the moment when needed, knowing someone like Nancy will be right there to depend on.  Finny how that works out yet, Nancy did provide that stability that you could count on.

Federica Romero de Terreros – Aside from also being very willing to help others that actually bustling around, Federica offered to pose to let me “fine tune” the camera settings Fiona help to acclimate to the dark surroundings.  It felt as if Federica was interest din everything and all that was occurring around her, and soaking all the activity in around her, and being around when anything, and everything was needed.  Maybe because it was so dark, I always new she was here and there when I saw her silver cross – I considered it good luck  🙂

Behind this all, you will see occasionally appearing and then back into the think of things, Ms Cesarman and Ms Teruhi, and the calmness exuding from them while the amazing level of activity on 20 different areas occurs. You have not sen distinct photos the because I haven;t found the right one yet.  But I, as well as you, will know when that is; I find the most amazing calmness and trust placed in so many members of this cast, and having Ms. Cesarman, Ms Tehuhi, and Mr. Cabrera, along with the director Armando Arrocha, this expectation of excellence is not surprising when you see their belief in the members around them. This is nothing short of heroic and there are no words to what this brings to the production.

Add to this seeing all this  the return of Rafa from Beauty and the Beast, the FAC’s first production and seeing this amazing way the drama has come, can you even imagine what was going through his mind?  I love this photo of him as it seems to say it all as I saw him taking it all in.



I am not sure about you, but I realize things in waves, and the waves of realization keep coming in to shore.  I continue to realize the things you appreciate often are not what you see in the surface at all, but what lies just below the surface. How amazing and great of a lesson to learn this than from the Theatre Tech Club and the actors actresses themselves in vulnerable moments before they appear as we know them on stage?  Their graciousness, and ability to do what needs to be done in the moment despite what accidents might occur, despite the technical aspects that require patience and perseverance, their ability to suck it up, move forward, and more forward even better than before is heroic, and yes often hidden.  However, as I found out in the third show, this makes it even more honorable in recognizing this art that can hit you straight in the heart in everything that is seem heard, and of course felt.   I am bracing myself for the last show as I, among many others, will feel it came too fast.  Yet, the journey and realizations along the way even helped me grow as an observer, thanks to those around me.  I learned this lesson from the very directors, sponsors, faculty, and members of Les Miserables around me every minute.

Thank you Les Miserables for giving me a gift that was there all the time, yet I did not fully realize and appreciate what was there in front of me.  That is something that will never disappear beyond the life of this production.  We all are pulled by the invisible threads that truly represent each hidden hero in this production, and thank you for letting me pulled with you as well.





About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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2 Responses to “Invisible threads” among Hidden Heroes

  1. Anna Kelman says:

    I loved your article! Thanks for mentioning my son Jose Fer Herrera because he has been so happy in the Tech Club and working many hours for this beautiful play! Hugo and his peers have mentioned to me that he has done an excellent job and he feels so proud of himself! I have never seen him so happy to do what he likes in school as this year!! People have started to appreciate his talents! Thank you Mr.Brake!!! Ms. Anna Kelman

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