Mount Desert Island High School student Eric Graves focuses a lighting instrument during the Tech Olympics competition Saturday afternoon at the regional drama festival. ISLANDER PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

Theater tech skills showcased at festival

BAR HARBOR — In addition to performances of one-act plays, the Maine Drama Festival regional competition includes a special event designed to showcase the students’ skills in technical theater.

Hampden Academy finished in first place in the Tech Olympics Saturday afternoon, winning this year’s Golden Wrench. The team from MDI was the runner-up and will keep the Silver Screwdriver.

This year’s trophies were a sight to see: stained and finished wood towers with 3D labels, made by student TJ Willis. The Golden Wrench trophy featured a miniature model of a Source Four lighting instrument with a tiny working light inside. The Silver Screwdriver had a Sword in the Stone theme, and the MDI crew who won it celebrated by ceremonially pulling the screwdriver from its clay “stone.”

MDI Drama alumni Angel and Matt Hochman and former MDI Tech Director Mark Smith presided over the competition, with help from alumni Samantha Wanner, Max Kornman and others.

Other drama festivals around the state have added tech competitions like this one over the years, Hochman said, but he thinks MDI’s was the first. The goal is to spotlight the students behind the scenes whose work is essential to the productions.

The events are wooden box frame construction, light focusing, sound cable coiling and knot tying. Teams are awarded points for best time in the relay: 100 for fastest, 90 for second place, etc.

A final, quieter event is a competition to see how high up in the air a student can extend a measuring tape before it bends and falls over. The length in inches is added to each team’s score from the relay.

Students in the audience rival any group of sports fans cheering on their classmates.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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