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Backstage with Paul Yager

Most Deerfield students see a perfectly built stage without fully understanding the complex artistic and technical work that goes into the construction of a set. Technical Director Paul Yager has overseen the completion of over sixty sets of Deerfield plays since 1989.

“Artistic research differs depending on which play we are doing. With Brighton Beach, I was very familiar with the play because we had done it ten years ago,” said Mr. Yager of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs, the most recent production.

“I knew the time frame, I knew the layout, I knew the feel of the play. So, this time I did not have to do as much research,” Mr. Yager said.

For those who had the opportunity to watch the fall play, it was evident that the set, built by Mr. Yager and a team of ten students, was quite complex and larger than the typical set in the Reid Black Box Theater. It had a substantial upstairs and enough detail to function as an actual house.

“It was a lot of set treatment, a massive amount of work getting the structure up. All the detail ended up being an awful lot of work,” said Mr. Yager.

Mr. Yager, who for two years worked as the technical director at the University of Massachusetts Residential Arts Program, went on to explain that “the details end up being the icing on the cake. That’s where you really put your stamp on it. When we finally got to the point [in Brighton Beach Memoirs] where we were hanging things on the wall, we were using props and furniture and décor to tell a further back story of the character.”

Mr. Yager revealed that for Medea, the winter play, the floor will be filled with sand and there will be a sun piece suspended from the ceiling.

Mr. Yager is currently researching the iconic carvings at Petra in Jordan for inspiration for wall design.

With a bare minimum of props, the set for Medea will not be visually rich or luxurious. “I think it can be done with a bare stage. What we do will support that. It is certainly not going to have the impact that the Brighton Beach set had,” Mr. Yager said.

Mr. Yager is looking forward to Medea, where he can work with some of the technical crew who gained experience from working in Brighton Beach Memoirs.

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