Behind the Scenes – Meet Wei Qing Tan

In the first week of her first year at STU, Wei Qing Tan, from Malaysia, decided to get involved with Theatre St. Thomas. Hesitant about putting herself out there so early, she did it anyway.
“I knew there would be no one in the room I knew, but I was taught to make the most of every opportunity,” Tan said.
Tan, who is pursuing majors in Sociology and Psychology and a minor in Gerontology, became the stage manager for Theatre St. Thomas (TST) after just one year at STU. During her first year, she assisted former TST stage manager and recent STU graduate Danielle Chaisson. Tan said she was amazed at Chaisson’s ability to know every cue throughout a show.
“She taught me a lot, especially watching her work with Trudeau and the FLQ because there were hundreds of sound and light cues,” Tan said.
As she began her second year at STU, Tan was contacted by Artistic Producer and Faculty Advisor for Theatre St. Thomas, Dr. Robin Whittaker. He asked Tan to take over as stage manager for the fall production.
“I said yes, but in the back of my mind, I was like, ‘Am I going to be able to do this? Do I know enough?’”
From her previous experience, Tan had a good understanding of the role’s demands and knew she’d have to pull a lot out of herself to succeed.
“I’m a little reserved and quiet in nature, and in this role you have to be able to talk to people and communicate your ideas very clearly to others,” she said.
Tan dove into rehearsals for TST’s 2016 production of Tirso de Molina’s The Trickster of Seville as the stage manager. She said the dedicated work of all those who step foot in STU’s Black Box Theatre motivated her.
“I’m in awe of how much time and commitment people put into this,” she said about the rest of the cast and crew.
On opening night of Trickster, Tan took her position in the technical booth.
“I was actually less nervous than I expected,” she said. “I knew I had to be ready to go into that booth on opening night, and because I was so nervous I wouldn’t be ready, I made sure I went in confidently. I knew what was supposed to happen at what point. I knew when to call the cues—the lights and the sounds at the right times.”
After burning off her first-night jitters, Tan eased into her role.
“After the first night, I got excited,” she said. “You’re constantly taking notes and checking in with the actors. Gradually, the amount of notes gets fewer and the whole team is functioning like a well-oiled machine. I’m so appreciative to the cast and crew for the relationship we share. They put a lot of trust in me. I’m grateful for that.”
Now in her third year, a more seasoned member of TST, Tan’s most recent role was stage manager for Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (November 22 to 25, 2017). She said though she’s more experienced and more confident, she doesn’t take for granted that others may still be starting out.
“TST has always been such a welcoming environment for me. I have received so much from the theatre community, and I want others to have the same opportunity—especially the first-years.”
Tan is proud of the work TST does. She said the long hours are worth the reward.
“I love the entire rehearsal process. It can be very long, but after every rehearsal, I always feel like we did so much good work,” Tan said.