In a Rugby auditorium dimly lit by the tiny lights in the tech booth and the spotlights on the stage, Performing Arts Department Head Rees Pugh was up to his hands and knees in sawdust on a freshly painted set.
Pugh has been either on or behind the stage for most of his life. Before diving into technical theater he stood under the spotlight himself.
“In high school and college I felt like a big shot actor and I paid no attention to the technical parts,” Pugh said.
Pugh spent all of his high school career acting. He continued on as a drama major in college in New York. Show business on stage, however, did not provide a steady income for Pugh, so he transitioned to work behind the stage.
“It’s everything that happens that you can’t see,” Pugh said.
As a technician, Pugh says there’s demanding and hectic preparation up until the last moment.
“You’re never done working until the audience is in their chairs,” Pugh said.
Pugh has served as performing arts department head for the past 11 years and is always busy around school.
Pugh’s impact has been felt nation and worldwide by the millions of people who have visited Disneyland, Disneyworld and Euro Disney. After moving to Los Angeles in 1988, Pugh worked at Disney Imagineering in show production and fabrication for eight years.
He constructed roller coasters for theme parks across the globe in cities such as Los Angeles, Florida, France and Tokyo.
After his roller coaster adventures, Pugh came to Harvard-Westlake.
He is now the Performing Arts Department Head – supervising the budget, representing the performing arts department at the facilities and curriculum meetings, assisting in annual evaluations of the teachers in the department and sitting on the calendar planning committee.
“The best stories that come out of shows are when things go wrong,” Pugh said. “Live theater is so much more exciting for me, you never know what’s going to happen.”