James Wright Presents at Theatre Tech Convention

Stage Manager James WrightPlay directors at Maranatha often ask their technical director, Stage Manager James Wright, “How did you do that?”

Recently, Wright needed to answer that same question for thousands of other people.

“It was a pretty big honor,” Wright said of presenting some of his expertise during the 2011 United States Institute for Theatre Technology’s annual conference at the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center in early March. “It was probably the greatest three-day learning experience I’ve ever had.”

The event brought together exhibitors, vendors, and experts in the field of theatre technology.

The 2008 Maranatha graduate wrote one of 24 articles published in Tech Expo 2011, the group’s journal. The article described how he was able to design three revolving wheels that allowed for quick scene changes during the April 2009 production of The Music Man. The turntables, joined by a wire rope, allow 24 feet of wall to turn and stop simultaneously.

“I got quite a few good comments about it, and I was glad when three or four people recognized who Maranatha was,” Wright said.

Wright's set for "The Mystery of the Yellow Room" featured a working second story as well as a rotating flat.The three-page article described how Wright assembled the motor, gearing, and drive from spare parts collected around campus. He then wound the wire rope around the three turntables as well as a tire attached to the motor. Nylon sheeting at points where the cables crossed eliminated noise.

Other technical directors at the convention helped supply Wright with ideas for future productions. One was a recessed coaster system that can allow an entire wall, or even an entire room, to be moved across the stage with ease.

“In the technical world, everybody uses everybody’s ideas,” Wright said.