Behind the Curtain: Interview With Warren Cherry Jr. - Head Electrician of the Gerald W. Lynch Theater
Due to the global health emergency, Broadway theaters have found their bright lights dimmed and their houses dark for the first time in history. As the world works together to stop the spread of COVID-19, the theater industry has been put on hold indefinitely - theaters around the world have closed their doors in compliance with social distancing rules, and Broadway has been shut down in full since March 13. The Broadway shutdown has impacted the lives of all who work in theater industry, who are now facing uncertain and unprecedented circumstances.
In our Behind the Curtain interview series, we are speaking with Broadway musicians, stage managers, ushers, bartenders, and more, talking about how they are handling the current circumstances, and discussing the impact that the shutdown has had on the Broadway community.
Today, our Behind the Curtain interview is with Warren Cherry Jr., Head Electrician of the Gerald W. Lynch Theater.
What is your job title? Please tell me about what you do within the theater industry and how long you've been doing it for.
I am the Head Electrician of the Gerald W. Lynch Theater. I generally plan and facilitate the hang, focus and overall setup of the plot given to me by the lighting designer of the show or event that is renting our space. I have worked as a freelance electrician for about 4 years, and this month actually marks my first full year in my current position.
What were you working on when the shutdown was put in place?
I was working on the load in for Take Me Out, a production going up at The Helen Hayes Theater on Broadway, as well as preparing for a handful of concerts at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater. Luckily, I was not in the middle of a run so I didn't have to deal with suddenly halting a production.
What has communication been like since the shutdown with the people you work with? Have you continued to maintain contact with them?
Communication has actually been very good! My co-workers and managers joined the Zoom train and have weekly video meetings to catch up on theater news and check in on how everyone is holding up. Hearing from others in the community, just checking in and passing along news and supporting one another has been irreplaceable during these times.
How do you feel that people in the theater community have come together during this time?
The theater community has always been very tightly knit, and I think that has only gotten stronger during all of this. The amount of resources that I have seen, created, or shared freely has been stunning, and I know many people have benefited from it. Forums are always active and webinars have been frequent, it feels like everyone is doing their best to continue to pass along knowledge and keep the community sharp. As our circumstances moved past just the shutdown and have also included the current protests and unrest, I have been beyond pleasantly surprised by the strong responses of this community. I was proud to see theaters open their lobbies to protesters who needed a safe location, and across the board I have seen so much positive feedback and support for those actively fighting for the right to be equal in this country. I have often found the theater community to be open minded and forward thinking and the continued positive support only solidifies that for me.
What ways have you found to best deal with the current circumstances?
I say this knowing that I regularly forget what day it is, but keeping some sort of schedule has been a major driving force behind my current sanity. Everyday at 1pm I'll sit down and put in a couple hours of programming practice. At 4pm I'll go outside and remember what the sky looks like. Anything that helps to cut the days up and break up the monotony of being home-bound. Communication has also become infinitely more important. Supporting as well as being supported by groups of my peers has made it possible to stay strong during both the shutdown and the protests.
How do you think this will change the world of theater going forward?
I imagine many shows will not return from this shutdown, and while theaters try to open, it will be a struggle for all of us to continue the work that we dedicate our lives to. But theater has always been strong and only ever comes back stronger in the face of adversity. It will be rough moving forward, but I think we will safely adapt and persevere. House attendance may be strictly limited and events may not be as large as we are all used to, but we'll move forward until, slowly, things can safely return to normal.
Do you have anything else you would like to share?
Support your local stagehand, check in on them and donate to IATSE relief funds. This shutdown has impacted so many people, but we are all stronger together. Donate to your local Black Lives Matter organization, there are people truly pushing for an equal and safer tomorrow and I want to see those people succeed. Share the honest information, challenge others to think about how we function as a society and how we can truly move forward together. We don't have the luxury of being able to ignore any of today's problems, but I think giving these problems our full attention today can bring a great tomorrow. Stay safe and stay informed.
From This Author Chloe Rabinowitz
Chloe Rabinowitz is a Philly native with a lifelong passion for writing and theater in equal measure. Chloe has been a published theater critic and
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