Lights, Camera, Refresh

The Wakeland High School auditorium receives a long-awaited refresh.


Gabrielle Conn

In the Spotlight – Wakeland Theatre performs their Fall show, Dearly Departed, under some of their new lights. “I think [not having all the changes done had] an effect more on the emotion coming across within the lighting and more so on the audience, but I think that the actors and technicians continued on perfectly and didn’t let it cause much stress,” junior Jaden Spurlock said. Despite not having all of the lighting done, the show still went on.

Over the summer, Wakeland High School got a fresh start with new paint, new tile, and new carpet in the hallways and the classrooms. Not only has the school been renovated after 15 years, but now the auditorium is getting a fresh new look. 

The auditorium will be getting new lights, new sound equipment, a new rigging system, new paint, new carpet, new projectors, and a new screen. 

“The stuff that we’re getting is really high quality and it’s really going to make our performances look beautiful,” theatre teacher Mrs. Dalfonzo said. 

To prepare for the renovation, the Wakeland Theatre department spent a total of six weeks cleaning the space by organizing props and costumes. 

“We spent six weeks cleaning, six dumpsters worth of stuff. We got everything clean and organized, so that when the renovation is done, we are fully set to kind of refresh everything and start new and be organized,” Mrs. Dalfonzo said. 

In addition to the new equipment in the auditorium, drama students who plan to major in theatre in college will be more prepared for university level theatre. 

“The technology involved in lighting and sound puts us at a more college ready level than we used to, and puts us ahead of some FISD schools as far as what technology we can offer,” tech theatre teacher Mr. Yowell said. 

The original technology didn’t match what students would be seeing in college, as it was 15 years old and only some of it was upgraded. 

With the new upgraded technology in the auditorium, theatre technicians will be able to do remote programming for lights and sound. 

“It will be a lot easier for [the students] to do electronic technology. Like I said earlier, programming mobile is a huge advantage,” Mr. Yowell said.

Aside from new lighting and sound equipment, the tech theatre department will also be getting technology that will allow students to do interfacing with iPads, along with iOS and Android apps that can program lights and sound while sitting in the audience during performances. 

With all the new upcoming updates to the auditorium, the renovation process has been a challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“[The process] has been difficult because of COVID, because everything that we are getting has chips in it, and there’s a chip shortage. So, a lot of it just wasn’t able to be done and there’s also a labor shortage, so they haven’t had the people to install the stuff when it comes in,” Mrs. Dalfonzo said. 

Although the renovation has been challenging, Wakeland Theatre has adapted and found ways to continue performing shows. 

During the fall show, Wakeland Theatre had to limit their set due to lack of lighting and sound system.

“They got us just enough lights to be able to light what we had, so we had to scale back the set. For a while, we thought we were going to have to perform in the cafeteria. We had to use a portable sound board because the sound system wasn’t up,” Mrs. Dalfonzo said. 

 Not only did they have to use a portable sound board, but the students found a way to communicate cues through a Discord server because comms weren’t working. 

 “Clever problem solving is amazing,” Mrs. Dalfonzo said. 

Although completion of the auditorium has been set back due to labor and chip shortages caused by COVID-19, Wakeland Theatre can hopefully expect full completion by the end of Jan. 2022.

“Because of logistics, supply chains, and work shortages, I would guess full completion will happen at the end of January,” Mr. Yowell said.

With all the changes in store for the auditorium, Wakeland Theatre has a bright future for their upcoming shows over the years.