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Lights, camera, action!

Light and sound technicians work behind the scenes of Oak Crest performances

Created date

July 28th, 2015
Oak Crest residents
Oak Crest residents

While most people go to a concert or a play to enjoy the show and have a good time, Peg Leary focuses on the light and sound. As chair of Oak Crest’s light and sound committee, Peg and her team work behind the scenes on productions to ensure every show is just right.   

“We provide microphones, spotlights, operate film projectors, anything they might need. It could be anything from a movie to a concert or a play,” says Peg. 

The all-volunteer group of seven Oak Crest residents provides light and sound in three venues on the 87-acre campus: the community’s auditorium, the conference center, and the community chapel. With no prior experience necessary, volunteers learn everything they need to know while on the job. 

A mother of two, Peg hadn’t planned on becoming a light and sound technician later in life. But like so many Oak Crest residents, living in the community unlocked an opportunity to try her hand at something new. Following in her late husband’s footsteps, she learned light and sound through trial and error. 

“He would say to me, ‘Why don’t you come with me and learn some of this stuff?’ I had never done anything like this before, so I was surprised at how quickly I picked it up,” says Peg. 

Try something new

The same is true for most members of the light and sound committee. Retired Baltimore County math teacher John Gregory moved to the Parkville, Md., community from Bel Air in July 2014. His goal: to try something he had never done before.   

“I joined right after I moved in,” says John. “I’m kind of semi-technology-oriented, so I went to the TV studio and asked what I might do. Josh Runkles, manager of the TV studio, suggested I start with the light and sound committee. He put me in touch with Peg Leary. Coincidentally, a training session was scheduled for the next day, so I was able to get some hands-on training right away.” 

The committee typically works in teams of two volunteers for each event. Peg posts a schedule of upcoming events two months in advance, allowing volunteers to sign up for available assignments to suit their schedules. 

“All three venues are different in terms of how the equipment works, so I always try to get there an hour early and go through the parameters of what I need to do so I don’t rush in and do it on the fly,” says John. “Before the show, we do sound checks with the performers to ensure things are working properly. Every time I work an event, I learn something new.”

John splits his time between the light and sound committee and Oak Crest’s on-site TV studio, W-OCV Channel 973 where he volunteers as a cameraman. He says he finds working behind the scenes rewarding, even without all the fanfare. 

He says the audience rarely gives feedback; they just enjoy the show. “It’s the performers that will compliment you on getting the sound right and taking care of their needs,” he says. 

Hands-on training

Oak Crest resident Courtney Alvey has been volunteering with the light and sound committee for over a decade. One of the things that attracted him to Oak Crest was the wide range of activities.

“I feel like it’s something that benefits the whole community. I’m able to do it, so I enjoy helping out whenever I can,” says Courtney.

Peg encourages any Oak Crest residents who are curious about learning what goes on behind the scenes to give her a call.   

“We are always looking for new members,” says Peg. “I wish more women would give it a try. I didn’t know anything about it before I started. I had no experience. But it’s not hard. We train you and show you how to operate the equipment. It takes a little time to get familiar with everything, but if I can do it, anyone can.”