Dory Barnard glows and grows through leadership role in lighting crew


Gabriel Issa

Sophomore Dory Barnard works the light board in the balcony above Sherry Lansing Theater. They serve as the master of lighting which has taught them skills in leadership and responsibility.

Taariq Ahmed, Reporter

Editor’s note: Dory Barnard uses they/them pronouns, which have been substituted for different pronouns that were used in quotations from sources.

Lights, Camera, Action! The school musical is underway as harmonic voices and beautiful melodies charge the atmosphere of the Sherry Lansing Theater. All the expected vibrance and liveliness of a theater event is proudly displayed toward the audience, which then erupts into a burst of cheers. However, concealed upon a balcony evading the vision of the spectators, lies the diligence and dedication of the lighting crew, directed and supervised by their leader, sophomore Dory Barnard.

Dory was a ninth grader when their sister Jane Barnard, a 2022 U-High graduate and former theater program member, suggested Dory should join the backstage crew. From that moment on, Dory became heavily involved in the lighting department, working for all performances since fall 2021. Now, Dory is the official master of lighting, a role that has given Dory substantial leadership experience in technical theater.

“I think being the head of the crew has been interesting for me because it’s a lot of management kind of stuff,” Dory said. “So I’m responsible for everyone and making sure everything gets here and is on track. I have to communicate with the directors, and make sure everything’s working out in that sense.”

Dory said that they have become close friends with the lighting crew and have developed a sense of community within the theater program overall.

“The crew itself is great, so we have a lot of fun,” Dory said. “Before shows, we’ll play Nintendo Switch games, and we often hang out outside of school as well, so I think it’s obviously gotten me a lot of friendships over time.”

Typically, graduating backstage crews instruct younger, developing crews as to the mechanics and technical aspects of lighting work. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, collaboration among the generations was severed, and the theater department was forced to start from scratch. 

Theater teacher Allen Ambrosini said that upon arriving into this predicament, Dory thrived both with learning new material and helping others learn the ropes.

“Dory is very conscientious. [They] learn very quickly and [they] are a very good leader,” Mr. Ambrosini said. “[They] were thrown into the situation last year, but [they] picked it up quickly and pulled together a group of people to do lighting. [They’re] also very efficient and very straightforward. We’re very happy for [them] to be working in the theater and [they] bring a whole palette of information and positivity to the theater.”

Dory said that they did have to figure out a balance between the commitment that comes with being the master of lighting and regular schoolwork. 

“Before the fall play and Student Experimental Theater, I had to come in a lot, especially during free periods, so it was often hard to balance lighting with homework,” Dory said. “It’s easy to get stressed, but if I have theater to think about, then I think it takes my mind off school. In that sense, it’s really enjoyable because I feel accomplished. It’s given me a lot of connections, something to do, and something to be proud of.”

At the end of a show, the crowd erupts into a thunderous applause as the entertainers take a bow, welcoming the praise. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Dory and their crew dim the lights, celebrating another successful performance.