Backstage at TEDxTryon

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What’s it like, backstage at TEDxTryon? In truth, it’s many things. An experienced organization is in place. A team of people stationed backstage is in constant communication with Jimm Brink (long-time technical director at TFAC) and Chris Tinkler (known in the area for his work with TLT) “in the booth” to ensure that an extensive and detailed list of cues is flawlessly executed.

These cues specify virtually every performance detail: mic and sound levels, lighting, the start and end of musical interludes, videos, setting and striking props, and timing the entrance and exit of each person who will take the stage that day.

There is an atmosphere of excitement – a period when the anticipation, exhilaration, pre-show jitters and magic of the event are palpable. Most importantly, the speakers, entertainers, professional emcee, and production staff are all primed and ready to “hit the boards.”

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Coordinating any major onstage event requires a great deal of planning, forethought, and flexibility. For TEDxTryon, that includes specific rules and regulations from the TED organization that must be rigorously implemented. During the months of preparation and organization there are numerous issues that require detailed attention. These include staging, set design, lighting, speaker and entertainment selection, and practice. Lots and lots of practice – so that by the time the event goes live, everyone knows their cues to a “T.”

The objective, of course, is to make everything that happens on the stage appear seamless and easy. However, no matter how well prepared and organized, there are inevitably those last-minute changes and challenges that arise. The magic lies in the fact that despite any behind-the-scenes drama that may be taking place, the professionalism of the backstage personnel make it possible for the crew to react on-the-fly thereby continuing the illusion of ‘perfection.’

Our mission is simply to set a calm, relaxed tone that will instill maximum confidence in each and every participant. It’s not easy (if you’ve ever performed on stage you’ll understand why!). It takes a great deal of time, energy and cooperation.

But when all is said and done, it’s immensely satisfying to know that everything possible has been done to give the speaker the opportunity to put forth his or her very best effort. That moment comes when backstage becomes onstage; when the speaker walks out to that red carpet and into the lights, and the efforts of all the TEDxTryon volunteers (and it’s quite the multitude!) come to fruition.

TED is a platform for ideas worth spreading. Started in 1984 as a conference where technology, entertainment and design converged, TED today shares ideas from a broad spectrum—from science to business to global issues—in more than 100 languages. Independently licensed TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world. TEDxTryon is a locally organized event and is especially supported by the Arts and Education committee of Tryon Fine Arts Center.