“I’ll Be Right Here”: The Inner Workings of a College Play

By: Chaviva Freedman  |  May 15, 2016

courtesy of yeshiva college dramatics society

In the past few months, I’ve been pretty lucky. I had the chance to be the Assistant Stage Manager for the recent production of “I’ll Be Right Here,” performed by the Yeshiva College Dramatics Society. Although I have past experience in the position I held, this play just felt electric to me from start to finish. Not only did I learn a lot about working in theater, but I learned some lessons along the way.

When I joined the production, it shocked me that the spring play was going to be a student-written production. Although I personally didn’t know the student playwright at the time, I thought that if the producer and the director agreed to take on the play, then there was something that I obviously didn’t see outright that they did, and I figured that it was worth taking the ride with this group of people.

Something that amazed me was the acting ability that each cast member had. Each character was very specific, with certain movements and sayings that could potentially be out of the actor’s element. It was obvious that the actors took their characters seriously and with each rehearsal that I attended, I saw the improvement of the actors and how practice really does make perfect. Day in and day out, the boys worked tirelessly and although there were some bumps along the way (arguments, fighting fatigue, just to name a few), you could feel the passion they had for the show and how much they wanted to not only prove to Lin that they were good at what they could do, but they wanted to prove to themselves that they deserved to be on that stage.

Although the average audience member saw the incredible work that people put into the sets, costumes and acting, if he or she saw how much all the work done behind the scenes, they’d be absolutely surprised, from the sound design to making sure the website to purchase tickets worked. Because I was working behind the scenes, I had the pleasure of witnessing all the time and energy put into it. Some of the departments work around the clock up until right before opening to ensure that the audience member is going to have the optimal experience. I saw the set crew fix and repair the sets five minutes before the theatre opened for the public, the sound designer fix the microphones hanging from the ceiling 24 hours before opening night, costumes rush to find the perfect pair of replacement glasses for one of the characters after the original pair accidentally broke right before a performance, rewrites of the script by the playwright the week before the play, and much more. I was genuinely impressed with how organized and precise each member was to make sure the production was going to be amazing.

I think what surprised me the most was the genuine camaraderie that everyone built while working on the production. As an outsider to the world of YCDS, the boys worked hard to include me in whatever they were doing and I made sure that they knew that even though I held a position of authority, I supported them with whatever was necessary in order to make the production as great as it was. I also think that it didn’t hurt that I consistently brought them chocolates and cookies so that they had snacks while they waited backstage to go on for their specific scenes. If I met some of the boys outside of this production, I probably wouldn’t be as
good friends with some of them as I am now. As I told them at the cast party, each person that worked on the production has a special place in my heart and I hope to continue working with them in the near future.

So what did I learn from working on “I’ll Be Right Here?” I learned that many elements happen in order to make a production work. I learned what happens when actors need to perfect their roles and how much effort each actor puts in to make their performance as authentic as possible as possible. I learned how much work happens behind the scenes. Although there were many mishaps on stage (you don’t want to know how many of the actors almost fell off the platforms used in the play while in tech week) and off (no one using the organization website Trello that our web manager set up for the crew to use – #whatistrello), there is not one part of this experience that I regret and I hope that I continue to work with YCDS in the near future.