Magnet research teacher John Kaluta has stepped down as the sponsor of Blair's stage crew after 15 years in the position, citing a desire for more free time.
As the club's sponsor, Kaluta supervised about 30 students each year in the construction and design of the set for Blair's biannual school productions. His responsibilities were largely concentrated in four main areas: set construction, decoration, sound and lighting.
Kaluta said he decided to leave stage crew because the responsibilities were often exhausting, leaving him with little spare time to pursue other interests, such as sailing and home improvement. Kaluta is also teaching the Magnet Research and Design class for the first time this year, which requires additional planning.
According to Kaluta, a permanent replacement for his position has not yet been found. Blair Players Director Kelly O'Connor said that ceramics teacher Jonathon Verock is acting as the temporary sponsor.
The Blair Drama Boosters, parent volunteers who fundraise for Blair's theater productions, are also assisting O'Connor in the search for new sponsors, according to Booster club member Steve Jackson.
For now, Kaluta is hoping to find individual replacements to take on each of his former responsibilities. Kaluta believes the hardest task will be finding someone to manage lighting and sound duties, though he remains optimistic that a volunteer will stand forward. The Drama Boosters have also encouraged parents with construction or artistic skills to contribute to the stage crew. To compensate for Kaluta's absence, senior and Stage Crew President Giulian Garruba intends to adopt more of a teaching role this year.
Kaluta's relationship with stage crew has lasted for the past 16 years, though he at one point took a year-long break and became a published author. Kaluta became Blair's stage crew sponsor with the production of "Rumors" in the fall of 1992. Shortly after 2001's "Guys and Dolls," he decided to leave stage crew for a year, and former technology and engineering teacher James Distler stepped in as his replacement.
When he began to write instructions for Distler, he found he had 14 pages of material and decided to expand his writing, until it eventually became a published book, The Perfect Stage Crew. Kaluta resumed his role as stage crew sponsor in 2002.
Kaluta said he is not concerned about the future of Blair productions, because O'Connor has managed without him before and he has confidence in the current stage crew. Regardless of who becomes the new stage crew director, he said that O'Connor is ultimately in charge of the plays and musicals. Even when other positions are shifted, Kaluta said he is sure she can handle it. "We've changed [orchestra] conductors many, many, many, many times," Kaluta said, but O'Connor's presence has remained a constant.
O'Connor said she will continue to challenge the stage crew with elaborate stage designs and maintain the same high expectations. "We have a set design in mind, and it's fairly ambitious, as always," she said. "I believe we should keep our aims high, and encourage the crew to meet them."
Kaluta said that he will miss many aspects of working with the stage crew, particularly the thrill of opening night. He also enjoyed seeing the students' hard work displayed onstage and overhearing admiring remarks from theatergoers. "One thing that's been rewarding is when the students put something together," he said.
Though Kaluta may continue working in stage management outside of Blair with some of his theater friends, he said he has no plans to return as the sponsor of stage crew.
Garruba said that the crew will be different without Kaluta, but stressed that it intends to continue holding itself to the same high standards. "He'll definitely be missed," he said, "but we'll look forward to trying to maintain the quality of our shows and move on."
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Rebecca Guterman. Rebecca Guterman loves being on Silver Chips! In what little spare time she has left over, she loves to play the piano, dance really badly, and listen to music. Above all, seeing and talking to friends 24/7 is a must. Even though most of her … More »