On Being A Car Headlight: Backstage at Rumors

Emily Sillars ’15 doesn’t have the most glamorous job in the Rumors cast. If she’s very good at it, no one in the audience will even know she’s there—her small part will simply weave another thread in the magic cloth of the play.

When stage manager Minh Do ’13 tells her the cue through a headset—cue five, or six, or 12—Sillars tips a giant light mounted on a pole and spins it toward the stage windows.

“To me, it just looks like this,” says the soft-spoken Sillars, and she spins the light toward the windows. During the show, the beam plays across the interior of a sophisticated New York mansion. Or at least that’s what it looks like to the audience. From Sillars’ perch backstage, all she can see is an unfinished wall, full of exposed joists and beams.

“I can’t tell what it looks like at all,” Sillars says, adding with a gesture at the room beyond, “It all works together and makes this place.”

The run of the play has been just two weeks. Over the course of the trimester, though, Sillars, and the rest of the Rumors cast and crew, have spent long hours of construction and prep time to create the illusion of the high-stakes, frivolous world of upper class New Yorkers (as envisioned by playwright Neil Simon).

The work has continued during the play’s two-week run. Each night, Sillars and a fellow crew member come in at 6 pm—an hour before the show—to sweep the set and arrange the furniture in its proper positions.

“We all work really hard so it all looks right,” Sillars says. “That’s part of the fun.”

Since the play takes place during a dinner party, the crew also must preset plates of food and drink—Sillars is in charge of the cups of stage coffee (it’s actually tea)—along with other props. At the end of the night, as they wash up the dishes and reset the props, giddy with the response from the audience that night, the crew will often start to dance or break into song.

That moment of revelry is one of Sillars’ favorites and she says she would do any job for the chance to be in the shows and “help make the performance happen.”

“We do jobs, but we have fun too,” she says, twirling a long braid around one hand. “It’s almost like another play goes on back here.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *