Technical Director leaves for new job at CalArts

By David Lim

Middle school performing arts teacher Grant Gorrell is leaving this week for a new position as assistant technical director at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia.

He has worked at the Middle School for six years as technical director and also taught the Stagecraft and Advanced Stagecraft classes to eighth and ninth graders.

Gorrell helped produce plays, musicals, concerts and assemblies.

As the only theater technician at the middle school, he was responsible for managing all the technical aspects during performances and rehearsals including lighting, sound and special effects, as well as creating recordings of shows.

Gorrell also helped set up new facilities in Bing Performing Arts Center during the summer of 2008.

He worked to fine-tune the equipment in the main auditorium, black-box theater and dance studio.

Gorrell said he considered his most important role to be that of a teacher.

“I try to instill a sense of responsibility in the work that [my students] do and teach them to have the confidence in themselves to troubleshoot problems effectively and manage the unexpected,” he said.

“[Gorrell] has always been first and foremost a fantastic teacher. If you have ever seen a middle school production, you know that amazing lights and sound can really bring the ‘wow’ factor to a performance,” Jacob Swanson ’11, a former student of Gorrell, said. “Through his very hands-on teaching style, he has given the most unusual of suspects a passion for theater.”

The highlight of his career here was the production of the play, “The Curse of Ravensdurn,” Gorell said.

“I did have the honor of directing the last play ever to be performed in the Great Hall, and the time that I spent working with the cast and crew of ‘The Curse of Ravensdurn’ will always have a special place in my heart,” Gorrell said.

Until a replacement can be found for his position, Gorrell will serve in his current capacity for a few more events.

“I have really enjoyed every single performance we have put together during my time here, and I’ve had the good fortune throughout the years to work with a number of truly exceptional students who have proven time and again to be absolutely essential to the success of our shows,” Gorrell said. “I will miss helping put together all of the wonderful productions we have lined up for this year, I will miss all of my colleagues and friends, I will really miss the dodgeball tournament in the spring, but most of all I will miss all of my students, past and present, as they were the best part of each and every day here.”

“I think the school will find itself hard pressed to find anyone that is as competent, loyal, and hardworking as he was,” former student Ben Vigman ’13 said.