Meet the man behind the curtain

Ayalah Spratt, Contributing Writer

The theater darkens. A single voice starts to speak into the blackness. The spotlight blazes to life from somewhere up above, illuminating the scene and bringing the show to the audience. The sets and props suddenly become visible as the actors dance across the stage. 

But who turns on the lights? Who builds the sets and makes the props? 

Meet Peter Wylie, Masters’ new director of theater tech and lighting design. He is the man who oversees it all, from the lights to the sets, to the props. 

Wylie got his start in the world of theater early on. 

“I was exposed to a lot of theater and dance when I was younger, and that had a lot to do with my, like, formation,” Wylie said. He then went on to design the lights for shows at his high school, he explained. 

Now as a full-time member of the Masters community, Wylie certainly dove head first into the fall production of Journey to the West. “Some of my favorite parts of that show was a lot of the physical stuff,” Wylie said. 

With the help of his theater tech class, Wylie constructed many of Journey to the West’s props. Wylie described his process of brainstorming prop construction. “First, I look at the script and see how it describes them [the props].” After reading through the script, Wylie said that he researches the show and starts to get a feel for its style. 

Journey to the West is a play based on the classic Chinese story by the same name. It explores the journey of a monk on his path to enlightenment and the trials that he faces with his companions. The play is full of colorful characters and vibrant sets, and the energy is rather other-worldly. 

Meg O’Connor, the theater director of Journey to the West said that she has had an excellent time working with Wylie so far. “We had a monkey with lasers coming out of his eyes,” O’Connor said, “And he was just like, ‘Okay!’” 

Sadly, due to an illness, he wasn’t able to make it to the performances of Journey to the West, and his absence was felt by his students as the curtain rose.

O’Connor, who covered for his class in the days leading up to the performance, said that she was touched by the students’ connection to their theater tech director. “I said to the class, ‘Is there any message you want to give to Mr. Wylie because I’m texting him,’  and they said, ‘We miss you. We love you. Get better soon.’”

Above all, what makes an excellent teacher is the ability to connect with students, a task that Wylie has accomplished in just a few months. 

One of those students, freshman Kaela Riley, described Wylie’s relationship with the performers and tech crew of Journey to the West. “He’s kind of like the uncle of everyone in Mainstage,” Riley said.