Today we are talking to backstage technician Traci Clapper!
Q: What was your first experience in theatre?
Even though I didn’t know it until way later, I’ve been around theatre my entire life. Both of my parents, my aunt and uncle, and even my Grandmother were and still are dedicated members of the STL theatre community. But I didn’t fall into it until 7th grade. I was taking a theatre class that was going Annie and I was Lily St. Regis. That’s where initially I got my performing bug that continued all the way through high school until I mistakenly thought Biology was going to be my plan. After some time reflecting and a crazy fun summer helping out with COCA’s Legally Blonde I found out that theatre was definitely my thing but backstage NOT onstage. And the rest has been history…
Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?
I’ve been lucky to have so many wonderful mentors throughout my theatre career so far. Most if not all of them have told me at least once to just say yes. The best part about theatre is that there are literally a million jobs to be done and you don’t know which of those millions you like to do until you do them! It not only teaches you new skills but it makes you super marketable. I’ve worked at professional theatre companies doing all different jobs and through that I’ve figured out what I love, Stage Managing, and I’ve become better at it because I’ve been in just about every situation and learned from it. Try everything, be safe, learn all the time and most importantly ALWAYS have fun doing it. Contrary to popular belief, hard work can be super fun….
Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.
Oh my… I can’t even begin to talk about how many times things have gone wrong backstage… Some of the most notable have been at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis when I was on wardrobe crew this past summer. We had a show that was set in 1980’s LA and 1960’s Kashmir. So half of the costumes were cotton, light colored, and machine washable and the other half were dyed and super tricky to wash. Well, one of the days that I was on laundry duty a dyed pair of pants accidentally got in with the white load of costumes… As you can imagine everything came out splotchy and grey… It was horrible. Luckily, the entire wardrobe team helped scrub, spot treat, and rewash everything. After a couple more loads of laundry, everything came out good as new but we ALL thought we were getting fired… It was dicey.
Q: What is your dream role/show?
Oh man… If I had to perform again it would have to be for Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray. Obviously. But I was also Sister Mary Amnesia in Nunsense in college which became my favorite part ever. I could play that part for the rest of my life and be completely content. But my dream stage managing gig would probably be Assassins. That show is just SO cool.
Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?
Oh god, everything. But my current obsession is all of HGTV. My favorites are International House Hunters, Property Brothers and Fixer Upper… But I’m currently up to date on all of them so I’m losing my mind a bit…
Thank you Traci!!!!
Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator.
See her work at gracemaustin.com.