Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design
Degree: Theatre Arts - Technical Production
Year of graduation: 2005
With eight years of experience in technical production for theatre, including three seasons at the Shaw Festival, D.A. Smurlick has a growing list of memorable moments. Supervising and operating the flight scenes for Peter Pan at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax, NS certainly comes to mind.
“It was the first time I had ever flown any actors, and I was responsible for their safety and the gear” recalls D.A., who also points to his work on another classic play, Blithe Spirit, as a career highlight. “I had always wanted to do that play. At the end of the show the ghost trashes the house, which presents a number of challenges, but allows for a lot of fun ‘theatre magic’.”
Among the challenges in creating flying sequences: “The actor needs to trust you. They have to know you will be there every time to pull the ropes the exact amount and you have to know that they will be on their exact mark at the right time,” says D.A. The inspection of the flying rig and the harnesses can also take up to 40 minutes a show.
No matter what technical fireworks he is creating, D.A. always looks forward to the first time the cast is on stage. “Seeing the stage takes the show to a whole new level for the cast and they are very appreciative of all the hard work that went into getting it there.”
D.A.’s interest in technical theatre was cemented following a co-op placement in the scene shop at Hamilton’s Theatre Aquarius close his hometown of Dundas. Following graduation, D.A. spent two years at Alberta’s Banff Centre as a Scenic and Stage Carpenter before heading across the country to the Neptune Theatre for three years. Niagara- on-the-Lake has been his home since joining the Shaw Festival as the Festival Stage Flyman in 2011 and Swing Stage Carpenter since.
Since he entered the field, theatrical production techniques have continued to evolve, along with safety practices, D.A. says. “With all the recent stage collapses, there is a big push throughout the arts and entertainment industry for new, stricter standards and certifications.”
Learn more about Sheridan’s Technical Production for Theatre and Live Events program.