Stagecraft Student Designs Solutions

Sophomore stagecraft creator Chase Wayland recently tapped into his Robotics team experience to help devise a novel solution for the Spring Musical.

This year’s production, Mean Girls, has back-to-back scenes in a number of different classrooms. To “show” the different rooms in the performance, the desks and chairs would need casters rotated a quarter turn to make the change.

To simplify the assignment, Stagecraft and Woodshop teacher Nick Rupard sourced desk/chair combos that moved as a unit, which also made choreography easier. With the ideal desks identified, Rupard hoped to make “H”-shaped platforms on casters to support the desks, and the actors could push themselves around with their feet. In the end, this idea didn’t work because the platform placed the chairs too high, making it impossible for the student-actors’ feet to touch the ground and roll the chairs around.

Rupard’s first instinct was to shorten all four legs on each of the 12 desks by about 5 inches, but after sleeping on the idea, he explored other avenues. A trip to Home Depot revealed a tri-wheeled caster the desks could sit on without being lifted too far off the floor—but how was he going to attach the casters to the desk legs?

Rupard shared, “We don’t have a welder. The folks I talked to about 3D printing cautioned me about it, saying the filament is too fragile, and they don’t trust it. So, I was rethinking the platform and making a mockup when Chase came into class.” Rupard showed Wayland the new casters and described the problems he was addressing in trying to make it all work.

In addition to being one of Rupard’s Stagecraft students, Wayland is a member of the school Robotics team and well-versed in problem-solving by designing custom pieces for the team’s robot. He suggested 3D printing as a solution and reassured Rupard of the material’s strength for the project, offering, “We build robots out of this stuff that take a lot more abuse that these desks will.”

Rupard was sold, remarking, “I’ve seen what they build. And I trusted he knew what he was talking about.” With that, Wayland was off and running on the OnShape software to design the first and subsequent iterations of an adaptor to use for the show—a skill he taught himself while helping out the Robotics team.
Rupard said, “I am blown away by the turnaround he did for it. In only a few days, he had a couple different designs and prototypes. And before December Recess, he had it figured out.”

A humble hero, Wayland wants all to know “…this is not as hard as it may seem, and it mostly takes some Googling and creative problem-solving!” Rupard added, “One of the rewarding things about working design and tech for the productions at Parker is being able to collaborate with students.”

There is no doubt that great things happen when people work together, and the Parker community looks forward to the production in March!

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.