February 25, 2021

Backstage at the Egyptian: Technical Director Kody Williams

Interview with the Egyptian Theatre’s Technical Director Kody Williams. Interview conducted by Sammie Musielak.

SAMMIE: When did you first get involved at Egyptian Theatre? 

KODY: I first got involved at the Egyptian Theatre back when I was in middle school. That would have been back in 2007.

S: What got you interested in starting at the theatre? 

K: I got interested in the Egyptian Theatre when they were putting on the Amenti Haunted House. A friend of mine and I wanted to start our own haunted house, but with us being in middle school, we soon realized that may not be possible. So the next best thing was to get involved with an already established haunted house. We found the Egyptian Theatre by just doing a simple Google search. We both applied and before you knew it, we both were seasons regulars at the Amenti Haunted House. From there, I got to know Alex, the Executive Director pretty well and decided I wanted to do more. I started volunteering for their regular events working in the concession stand and taking tickets. 

I had a large interest in technology growing up and that just pulled me more towards the production side of the theatre. In high school, I got more involved with the production side of the house and assisted with multiple shows and community events on a volunteer basis.

S: Why did you decide to apply for a job at the theatre? 

K: I actually never applied for the job. Alex, the Executive Director, reached out to me to see if this was something I was interested in doing. With all my previous experience volunteering for the theatre and working events, I thought it would be a great fit! Without any hesitation, I jumped at the opportunity to get even more involved than I already was.

S: Throughout the years at the Egyptian you have taken on many roles and positions. Do you have a favorite or one that particularly stands out and why? 

K: I have held multiple positions here at the theatre. Everything from a volunteer ticket taker to the Technical Director, which is my current role. My current position would have to be my favorite. I am pretty involved in every aspect of the theatre one way or another. This position has helped me further my knowledge and experience not only in the entertainment industry, but also the tech industry. For my full time job, I am a Network Engineer. So these two positions kind of go hand in hand and have each built on one another.

Not only am I heavily in charge of the production side of the entertainment industry, but I also have a heavy hand in the IT side of the organization. Always making sure our IT infrastructure is the best it can be to support not only ourselves but our patrons and artists.

S: Do you have any favorite memories from your work at the theatre?

K: This one is tough. With every event we hold, the staff not only makes memories with each other, but we create memories with our patrons and artists. One of the memories that sticks out the most is back when I was volunteering on the stage crew for a Ron White Comedy Show. I was responsible for putting out Ron’s very expensive bottle of scotch during a blackout. While I was on stage putting out this bottle on a stool, a bottle was broken out in the audience and everyone on the crew thought I had dropped the bottle and shattered it all over the stage. Luckily that was not the case and it made for some pretty good laughs after the fact.

S: Sound and lighting is a crucial part of any show and varies depending on the performance. What does that process usually entail? 

K: Sound and lighting is definitely a huge part of an event and can make or break it. Typically the process starts with management booking the event. Once we have a booked event, it is when I take over. We reach out to the artists team and go over all their requirements needed for the day of the performance. This includes sound, lighting, backline, stage setup and props. Sometimes we cannot always accommodate everything but this is the time that we work out those kinks and plan to bring the best possible performance to our patrons. For our larger shows, this process can take months to get everything planned out and confirmed. At times, additional equipment is needed, so I have to reach out to some of our vendors to line up either backline or additional lighting/sound equipment.

S: How long does it typically take to plan out sound and lighting? 

K: At a typical event that starts at 7PM, setup or load in usually begins around 8AM. We unload the artist equipment into the building and immediately get started on setup. Once in the building, we begin placing items, hooking up sound, focusing lights. This process can take anywhere from 2-6 hours. Once setup is completed, sound check begins. This is our time to test and recheck everything to confirm everything looks and sounds great. Once soundcheck is complete, it’s time to open to the public. During an event, it is my job everything goes smoothly between sound, lighting and the artists crew. You will find me bouncing from position to position making sure everything is working as it should.

Once an event is complete and the last patron leaves the auditorium, we spring into action on packing up the artist and their equipment. Typically a load out can be completed within an hour or two. Once they are all packed up, we send them on their merry way to their next gig.

S: What has been one of your favorite shows to work on and why?

K: One of my favorite shows to be a part of would have to be Gaelic Storm. They come back yearly and everyone loves them. The production is awesome and the crowd has such a high energy. Makes you realize all the work you put into the event was worth it.

S: What is the best part of your job? 

K: I think the best part of this job is the different experiences I get to partake in. With these experiences, I get to meet many people from around the world and be a part of something truly great.

S: Is there anything you’ve learned at the Egyptian that you don’t think you would have learned otherwise? 

K: Without the Egyptian Theatre, I would have never learned how the whole entertainment process works. From booking artists to setting up the show. Unfortunately, being in this type of industry, kind of ruins the fun for myself when I go out to concerts or events as a patron. When at these events, you will most likely find me looking up at the rigging or sound/lighting equipment, trying to figure out the logistics on how they performed that special theatrical trick.