Arts and Entertainment

Art Focus: Ben Chesler

By Michelle Mandeau
Published: March 2010

When senior Ben Chesler isn’t busy leading the Class of 2010 as a class officer, campaigning for Setti Warren, or becoming one with nature, he transforms into a behind the scenes hero for South Stage.

Chesler first became interested in technical theater in eighth grade at Brown Middle School. He had done some “pretty basic light stuff, he said, but that was about it. It wasn’t until Chesler’s freshman year that he became more heavily involved because of encouragement from one of his friends.

Little did he know that his fall season schedule would soon be cluttered not just from soccer but from theater tech as well. Chesler was not too familiar with the arts as he is “basically tone-deaf, and [he] can’t even draw stick figures, he said.

Not sure what to expect, Chesler was in for an amazing surprise.“Everyone [in South Stage] was so welcoming, but also so hardworking, Chesler said. “It also allowed me to get closer to actors, even though I don’t act myself.

Although he has never done tech outside of Newton South, Ben has worked on between 25 and 30 South Stage productions and has managed two. His favorites to work on were Stop Kiss, where he stage managed, and Burial at Thebes, where he did the set design.

Some of Chesler’s many jobs have included building sets and hanging lights. He has also become very familiar with the various design positions such as Light Designer, Master Electrician, Scenic Designer, Master Carpenter, Sound Designer and Properties Master.

Chesler’s duties have increased greatly since his first year behind the scenes. “When I was a freshman, everything seemed so amazing. Now, as a senior, I have a bunch of responibilities, so I see everything in a different light (no pun intended!), he said.

Chesler’s favorite thing to do at tech is stay really late and work intensely on a show. For Chesler, the most challenging part of being a senior techie is “teaching new techies the ropes [and] working within a budget [¦] It forces me to be creative, he said.

Though there have been many proud moments for Chesler, there have been some trying times as well. On tech day for Guys and Dolls, Chesler cracked under the pressure. “I had been up until 4 AM the night before writing scene shift sheets, then I got up at 8 AM Chesler said. “By 4 PM, I just broke down. He managed, however, to pull through and produce an excellent show.

In the future, Chesler does not plan on getting a degree in technical theatre but might consider continuig with it in college. The most valuable lessons Chesler has learned from being a “techie may not be related to sounds or lights, but rather the ability to be in charge and persevere no matter how challenging a task is.

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