The Perfect Stage Crew
The Perfect Stage Crew TV Show
About the Author - John Kaluta
"Writing the book was easy," says John Kaluta, author of The Perfect Stage Crew. "I was actually taking some time off from theater work, and began the book as a note to my successor. I decided to type the note, as a courtesy to him, and before I knew it I had fourteen pages." The notes were clear and organized, and read like an irreverent textbook; giving Kaluta the idea to try to publish his own guide to backstage work.
"I had read a lot of the other stagecraft textbooks, and, among other things they lacked a certain direct honesty - I would have liked a book that just told the truth, especially about ways to economize. And it always seemed stupid to me to take up chapters and chapters with pictures of hammers and monkey wrenches." After a few months facing his computer screen Kaluta had, "about half a book;" modeled loosely after John Muir's famously successful VW maintenance book: How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot. This he sent to, "...all of the publishers I could find by looking in the theater books at the Drama Book Shop in New York City."
The manuscript gathered immediate attention from several publishers, but, "...the editors and staff at Allworth Press were the best, working with me, putting in a lot of effort long before a deal was signed. With their help the book became a reality in record time. I can't say enough about their professionalism and great advice."
Mr. Kaluta's stage experience made him a natural for The Perfect Stage Crew. He began his theater career in high school, but, unlike many of his contemporaries, had already determined that he would become a teacher. "I decided to become a teacher in fifth grade, and ever since then not only did I do my schoolwork but I watched the teachers, their methods of presentation, their way of explaining things, all the techniques." This gave him a tremendous advantage in the classroom, "since I'd been studying the give-and-take of education for seven extra years." It didn't hurt that his first teaching job put him in the theater, side-by-side with one of his own most influential teachers, Ms. Judy Klevins. "Working with her after being her student really helped me see both sides of the coin." He also picked up stage work, "by the grapevine," even becoming a roadie for national rock acts. Short stints with the Folger Theater and at Arena Stage in Washington, DC and a "shamelessly nepotistic" New York gig arranged by his brother cemented his technical credentials.
"Really, it was a combination of everything... working construction through the summers, the Engineering and Technology Education classes at Virginia Tech, fixing up my own house, the teaching, being in a band, all of these things, all of this knowledge comes in handy when you have a problem to solve backstage. And, as the years go by you just get better and better at certain things."
The years, more than ten in his current position, have proven by example the techniques Kaluta describes in his book. "For instance," he says, "when I write about not putting up illegal signs it's because an official from the Maryland State Highway Administration came by one day and ripped down four of ours." When he writes about fixing the intercom it's, "...because the intercom has been broken in every single theater I ever worked in."
With the book successfully completed Kaluta is again at the helm of his own perfect stage crew, at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland. "The kids hate the name of the book, because of the pressure it puts them under. Of course, they also can't resist letting it, um, slip, in conversation, that that's them right there on page sixty-two."
Mr. Kaluta lives in Beltsville, Maryland.