By Gabrielle Gasser Explore Big Sky Editorial Intern
BIG SKY – Lone Peak High School junior Rachid Schultz is manipulating the lights in the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center’s theater from a computer in the sound booth. Schultz has to patch the wires from the giant lights into the light board.
“For the board to recognize the light, I have to type in numbers like an address so that the computer can control it and it’s not useless,” he explains. “It’s like plugging a mouse into a computer.”
Born in Bozeman, Schultz, 16, has lived in Big Sky all his life. Since the beginning of his sophomore year –and the beginning of WMPAC – he has played an important role in many performances at the local theater. Currently, he designs and executes the lights for most of the shows, and also runs microphones if need be.
John Zirkle, Artistic Director of WMPAC, is complementary of Schultz’s skills.
“Rachid is insanely talented,” Zirkle said. “In less than a year, he has already become an expert in the WMPAC tech booth, and now I’m the one who goes to him with questions on tech issues. I think that he has a major leg-up for theater tech programs because he’s had to learn everything from scratch.”
Schultz is using this work as his capstone project, a high school graduation requirement in which students must complete community service, school service and internship hours. Schultz is getting many of these hours with WMPAC and once he completes them, he hopes to turn his work into a job.
In addition to running the lights and sound system in the theater, Schultz is adept at using computers. He’s always been computer savvy, and learned these skills, he says, “by experimenting with programs and computers in my spare time.
“I always like to know how things work, and also the most efficient way of getting things done. It’s just how I am.”
Over the past two years, Schultz has continued learning more features of the light board, both through experimentation and by working with Zirkle and Big Sky Resort graphic designer Michel Tallichet.
“At first, [Tallichet] taught me the basics of how to use a sound board and a light board, but I mostly just took the time to sit there and experiment with every button and option,” Schultz recalls. “It’s kind of like an adventure to find out all of its capabilities.”
Schultz enjoys his work at WMPAC but admits it has challenges. “If you say you’re going to do a show, you have to take a lot of time to come in and work on it,” he said. “You can’t just come in the last day.”
Schultz is definitely committed, posting himself in the sound booth every time a show he’s running is practicing, as well as for the actual event. His favorite things about the work, he says, are the actors or performers in the shows.
“I like meeting all the people who work all the acts,” he said. “They’re usually really cool. I got to help out with [the comedy show] Second City and meet all of them and hang out with them.”
Schultz has enjoyed his experience with WMPAC so much that he plans to pursue a career in lighting design. He hopes to attend Cornish College for the Arts, a small university in downtown Seattle that focuses on theater, the arts and production.
This summer Schultz is working with Jericho Studios, which runs and manages the Thursday night concerts put on by the Arts Council of Big Sky.
Explore Big Sky Editorial Intern Gabrielle Gasser is a junior at LPHS. She wrote this story as part of her capstone project.