Henry Schwarze discovered an interest he never knew he had


Henry Schwarze

Henry Schwarze and sophomore Jake Barnes in the lighting booth at the Fine Arts Center

Picture the theater: gripping scenes portrayed by talented actors, famous lines repeated over and over. But just as important is what happens behind that brightly lit stage, or, in this case, in front of it.

Sophomore Henry Schwarze is a member of the FHC stage crew, the group that allows the superb theater program to put on stunning performances. He doesn’t work behind the scenes though. Instead, he can be found sitting in one of the best seats in the audience: the lighting box.

“After the signups for this year’s play started,” Henry said, “I thought, ‘maybe I want to do that,’ because I had some friends that were in it. I thought lighting or sound would be cool, but they assigned me to lighting.”

Although he had never worked on the stage crew before, since his first lighting experience with the fall play, Clue, Henry has worked with lighting for several other events such as band concerts and the Pine Ridge lip sync. He plans to continue with the stage crew and lighting throughout his high school career.

Of these experiences with lighting, though, one stands out. His favorite show so far, and the one that convinced him to continue working with lighting, was Clue.

“[My favorite] was the play,” Henry said. “It was fun to have friends to be with and hang out with for the whole show.”

Having good friends at your side when you try something new always makes the experience easier, if not more enjoyable, and although the social aspect of the stage crew may have been the reason Henry joined in the first place, the reason he stayed is much different.

Since Clue, his other jobs have been less of a community endeavor and more of a voluntary contribution of personal time. He continued because of the lighting experience itself.

“I love working on making the show look good,” Henry said. “I like to have fun with the settings, adjusting them to find what looks best.”

I love working on making the show look good. I like to have fun with the settings, adjusting them to find what looks best.

— Henry Schwarze

Lighting was Henry’s first stage crew job, but he is branching out with the Spring musical, The Wizard of Oz. Because it will be performed at the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center rather than the FHC auditorium, the lighting system is much more complicated, and hired professionals are needed to do some of the lighting work.

However, Henry still wanted to participate in the musical and will be working with these professionals on lighting. The more complicated system will allow him to learn more about his hobby.

“I wasn’t expecting to run the lights for the musical,” Henry said. “I haven’t had experience with the tech at the Fine Arts Center, but [director] Kyle [Black] seemed eager to put me on.”

Henry is excited about this experience and hopes it will help his future lighting endeavors. He has already improved since his first experience, and he believes that this is showcased by how well his first solo job went.

Some things still go wrong though, but most of the time Henry and his fellow stage crew members laugh it off. Instead of focusing on these times as failures, they just become funny stories.

“There are things that go wrong in the show,” Henry said. “Usually it’s funny when it happens. Sometimes I’ll mess up the computer and not know how to solve it, and then ruin everything. It’s always funny.

This attitude of refusing to dwell on mistakes has allowed Henry’s time on stage crew to be fun and relaxed. From behind the lights, Henry has shone in his own element and even gained other valuable skills.

Although he doesn’t know whether or not he will continue this hobby past high school, he does know that the lessons it has taught him will continue to benefit him long after the lights go out.

“It has taught me about hard work,” Henry said. “You have to have a lot of patience, especially when you’re working with other people on stage crew. You have to communicate a lot to get things done, and it also takes a long time. I’ve learned a lot.”