Martin Assumes Set Constructor Role for Stage Crew

Metal Technology teacher uses his expertise in construction to help build scenery.
Teacher Tyler Martin works to construct set pieces for the upcoming play Lost Girl.
Teacher Tyler Martin works to construct set pieces for the upcoming play Lost Girl.
Lachlan Gemmill

When metal technology teacher Tyler Martin isn’t helping students harness their imagination in metal tech, he is using his own imagination to design and construct sets for the theatre department’s play “Lost Girl.” 

Martin has assumed the responsibilities of set constructor, a pivotal role in making the visions of Susquehannock Theatre come to life.

However, challenges have already confronted the stage crew, such as having to wait to start building the set, causing them to be very far behind when they would normally be a week out

Juniors Fiona Giffen and Kameryn Folderauer paint set pieces for the upcoming play. Photograph by Lachlan Gemmill-Edwards (Lachlan Gemmill-Edwards)

With dozens of students in his classes, Martin has a wide range of people to help out with this daunting task. Despite this, recruiting has been one of the toughest challenges Martin faces as the set constructor.

“Not many people really understand what goes on behind the scenes, which can make it difficult to recruit,” Martin said.  “I’m hoping to do a better job of spreading the word for the musical set build  and getting more people involved in all aspects of the program.”

Students work after school to construct the set for the upcoming play, “Lost Girl.” Photograph by Lachlan Gemmill  (Lachlan Gemmill)

The stage crew has been falling behind this year for many reasons, according to set director Laura Polaski. 

“It took a really long time to get Martin in and approved in the first place which puts us really behind where we would normally be at this point,” Polaski said. “Normally, 10 days out, we would be painting the set and putting on final details…Normally, we get started (building the set) in September, but we didn’t start until late October.” 

With opening night on Nov. 17, the group is starting to kick into high gear. When the stage crew would normally be painting the set and positioning it, they are still using saws and screws to construct the set itself.  

With his background in construction, a master’s degree in Technology Education, 3-years making cabinets and another master’s degree in Learning Experience Design, Martin may be the most qualified person in Susquehannock to get such a big job done so quickly.

Students Riley Kelch and Jake Hieland assemble set pieces for the upcoming play. Photograph by Lachlan Gemmill-Edwards (Lachlan Gemmill-Edwards)

Student Riley Kelch has been a student of Martin’s for three years. He is going along for the ride with him for the stage crew.

“He qualifies really well… I’m in set construction,” Kelch said. “I’ve seen him do a phenomenal job with it.”

Polaski is looking forward to working with Martin in this role.

“It’s really exciting to be working with somebody new…it’s a new experience,” Polaski said.  “…Figuring out how to work together, how to make things happen.”

Martin succeeds Eric Paules, who held many positions within the stage crew and did the job of set constructor. Now, Paules’s duties are divided among multiple people, meaning that preparing for the play can get done faster than ever. 

Set director Laura Polaski is thankful for Paules’s time with the stage crew. 

“He did everything,” Polaski said.“He did a lot of work for one person. He designed the set, led the building, helped with lighting and sound, and did all of the technical [work]. Also, he had a passion for it. He isn’t gone, but he is still working with us. He also did theatre in high school, so he was kind of always involved in it.” 

Martin also has a lot of respect for Paules. 

“I have some very big shoes to fill,” Martin said.“Eric is a fantastic set builder/designer and an even better person.“He has been a monumental help with my transition into the position. Getting to Eric’s skill level will take time, but so far, I have felt confident in myself and my crew for this build.”

With opening night fast approaching, the stage crew is scrambling to get the set for “Lost Girl” built; however, with the odds against them and Martin in the lead, they are proving that the Warrior Spirit, paired with hard work and passion makes results. Watch the play “Lost Girl” on Nov. 17 and 18 at 7 p.m., and on Nov. 19 at 2 p.m.

*At the time of publishing, the stage crew finished their project, and everything is ready for the fall play production this evening.*



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