Name: Brendan Flaherty
Area of Study while at WCU: Bachelors in Theatre with a concentration in Technical Theatre
Current City: New York City (Manhattan)
Graduation Date: May 2010
Current Occupation: I.A.T.S.E. Local One Apprentice Electrician in the NBC Studio Electric Shop
Why did you choose WCU and/or the Department of Theatre and Dance?
I chose to pursue theatre at WCU because I wanted to be able to experience all sides of technical theatre. West Chester gives you a unique experience to try your hand at many aspects of theatre in a department heavily influenced and run by the students that make up and want to be involved with the program.
What training or education did the Dept of Theatre and Dance provide for you that relates to your current occupation?
West Chester gave me the opportunity to explore all my options when it came to the technical side of theatre. I was able to get as much experience as I wanted to take on, and I was able to learn from every opportunity. From running a spot to acting as Technical Director, every chance I was given to learn made me better at what I do. Every job I did gave me experience that isn’t readily available in professional theatre. Experience in all areas of tech is the most important thing I was given here; it has made me a much more well rounded stagehand which makes me more marketable.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day of work as a shop electrician involves working with all the studio spaces at NBC. I make rounds to all the studios such as SNL, Jimmy Fallon, MSNBC, Dr. Oz, and The Today Show, and do maintenance and repairs on their lighting units as well as basic repairs in the studio. The shop is also in charge of electrical wiring and lighting that goes into props and set pieces for shows such as SNL. As studio shop electricians, we are also responsible to run power distribution for concerts and events in the plaza for The Today Show.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to enter your field?
I would say if you are looking to get into work as a stagehand, you should take advantage of your college experience. Do what you can, because at WCU you are going to be the determining factor of what you get out of your education. Don’t be afraid to go and try your hand at design, shop work, run crew, or work on the electrics crew. Don’t be afraid because your successes and failures are all a part of your education. It is also important to take advantage of your alumni. Often times, who you know is just as important as what you know. Don’t be afraid to reach out. We are a small tight-knit community and we are all more than willing to reach out and lend a hand or advice.
What is your favorite memory of being a student at WCU and/or in the Department of Theatre and Dance?
My favorite memory of being a student at WCU was receiving the J. Peter Adler Prize for Excellence in Theatre.