For many theatre fans, their focus usually lies in the show’s artistic factors such as the actors and writing of the play. As for Fountain Valley High School senior Alex Wittick, however, the real art of the show comes in the form of stagecraft.
Stagecraft is the more technical aspect of theatre, serving as the encompassment of the show’s artistic vision. It ranges from the more artistic directions taken in costumes, make-up and set design to the more technical side of lighting, sound and stage management.
“It’s mostly building platforms, thought and using different elements of the production to build a stage,” Wittick said. “It’s a lot different than building things for houses or like normal construction. There’s a lot of variety with what you make.”
Wittick’s experience with stage production started last school year in his work as a technical crew member in FVHS’s “Our Town.” He cemented his serious passion when he was stage manager for the school’s subsequent musical production of “Grease.”
“But I’ve always had a love for building things,” Wittick reminisced. “My dad and I used to build things throughout the house, and we still do it, but not as much now since I’ve started stagecraft.”
Sure enough, his favorite created pieces included the rotating platform stages in “Grease,” as well as its set piece of the racecar, “Greased Lightning.”
This school year, Wittick delved into acting with FVHS’s fall production of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” as Lennox, and recently cast as Billy Porter, the lead for FVHS’s spring musical production of “Anything Goes,” while simultaneously working as a technical production member to create the set and overall production.
Despite this venture into acting, Wittick affirms that his passion is still firmly rooted in the art of stagecraft.
“Recently with ‘Anything Goes’ there have been a lot of new things,” he said. “While I did enjoy working on ‘Anything Goes’ [I] probably [won’t go into acting]. It’s not my thing. I have fun with it but not nearly as much fun as I do with the technical side.”
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak and closing of schools across the country also led the musical’s closing before it began, but this did nothing to interfere with Wittick’s stagecraft ambitions.
He plans to pursue more of his experience with stagecraft at Orange Coast College after high school, with dual enrollment at Irvine Valley College.
“They (IVC) seem to have a very technical heavy side,” Wittick said. “So I’d learn how to do a lot more [stagecraft] there.”
After junior college, he plans to transfer to a four-year for stagecraft, where he has the opportunity to establish himself in the field, preferably in a small or medium-sized theatre where he’d be able to work his way up.
Absolute best case scenario?
“There’s always Broadway,” he speculated, laughing when asked where his most far-fetched future could be. “I’d love to see myself on a set for something on Broadway, and recently I was just looking at a behind-the-scenes footage for ‘Beetlejuice’ and the attention to detail and the way they’ve built things is so impressive.”