Making Stagecraft Simple

subplot Archive

Anthony Arena is making Stagecraft Simple

Anthony Arena is a woodworker and theatre educator who has built the popular YouTube channel Simple Stagecraft. Simple Stagecraft’s videos provide accessible technical theatre knowledge and resources for both teachers and students. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

THE SCENE: Is this when you started the Simple Stagecraft YouTube channel?

ANTHONY: I actually started Simple Stagecraft a couple of years ago while teaching. While it was still a great idea then, I was also still a full-time teacher, director, parent, etc. and just didn’t have the time required to devote to the channel. Not to mention there’s a ton of yellow tape and legal issues surrounding any potential monetary gain as a teacher using school assets/equipment. Fast forward again to the present, technical theatre, and theatre as a whole really, is still vastly underrepresented on YouTube and across the internet. Are there resources for theatre educators? Sure. But if you search “How To Technical Theatre” on YouTube, you quickly run out of useful and relevant results. Try “How To Woodworking” or “How To Piano” and you’ll never wade through all that content in a lifetime.

THE SCENE: That’s a great point.  

ANTHONY: I want to start mending that gap in content. I hope that a teacher who may not have anyone else to go to for help can look on YouTube and find a well-explained, simple video where they can show their students how to build a stock platform. I hope that a student who is absolutely obsessed with theatrical lighting can be met with an entire playlist of videos that she can binge to dive deeper than she ever could in a class of 30. And I especially hope that other creators will be inspired to jump in and start creating other theatre content, technical or otherwise, on whatever platform they choose because it is sorely needed.

THE SCENE: What are you working on right now?

ANTHONY: Currently I’m trying to get one video out each week on YouTube while also doing daily technical theatre bell ringers on TikTok and Instagram @SimpleStagecraft. Soon, I hope to be consistently getting multiple videos out per week serving different functions for both teachers and students. I’m also starting to develop some workshops for our local Thespian Conference as well as making my rounds to different schools for class workshops. That being said, I’d love to eventually be traveling with Simple Stagecraft around the country to different theatre conferences bringing workshops and any other help that I can. I know I’m in a very privileged position in many ways with my current job that allows me to take on all of this, which I recognize is probably a large reason that there’s not more content out there. Those of you on the front line with your students have zero time to spend elsewhere, and if you’re not teaching anymore, you’re probably burnt out on it. I just hope that this gains traction enough that I can use my current privilege to fill in some of those gaps for educators.

THE SCENE: What’s on the horizon for Simple Stagecraft?

ANTHONY: Beyond the YouTube and the how-tos, I have big, big plans. We all know that education is struggling, and there is a lot to talk about there. In my experience though, I think at its root is that a lot of students claim they don’t enjoy learning. They’re happy to rave to you about movie theories though. Or intense video game lore. Or the different beauty products they’ve seen. And I’d be willing to bet that they really enjoyed learning about those things. So, here’s my brilliant theory: All students can love learning if they just find something they love learning about. All we have to do is find that thing, and that’s where theatre steps in, in my case, particularly technical theatre. It seems that technical theatre is a very well-kept secret from most school populations, which is absolutely astounding to me. I want to increase technical theatre awareness in schools on a massive level because imagine how many more students we can start roping into theatre when the student body starts to find out: “Wait, there’s a class that we learn about makeup?”, “Wait wait wait, you’re saying that I can start learning about audio production before going into a specialized college program?”, and of course “There’s a class that I can make *swords*??” You get the idea. Of course, that all starts with actually being able to offer those things in our technical theatre classes, which frequently is not the case. And that blame certainly doesn’t fall on the teachers. A musical theatre major is an absolute star of a director if they can coach singing, acting, and choreography. How in the world can we expect that same person to be an expert in carpentry, wig styling, and projections? It’s impossible. So, I hope to push forward this movement to create as many resources as we possibly can for teachers and students so that we can ignite that love of learning together through technical theatre.

THE SCENE: Any parting advice?

ANTHONY: For all of you that are desperately struggling with technical theatre in your programs, or maybe you just want more and are disheartened by the lack of “more” out there, you’re not alone. You have been heard and you have been seen. If you have people you know who know technical theatre, you are blessed. Lean on them. If not, check out what we have so far to try and find some respite. If we don’t have the answer to your problem, hang in there. There’s lots more on the way.

Visit Simple Stagecraft:

Check out these sample videos from the Simple Stagecraft:

The Scene Logo

Sign up for a weekly free roundup of the latest news in theatre education

License Harry Potter and The Cursed Child
Join Broadway Book Club