My path to becoming a stagehand started in high school. I was part of a group of students who commandeered an unused, old gym to do theatre. We had to outfit it with platforms, seating, and lighting. We mostly worked in 3/4 round but we did “South Pacific” with small stages around the space and the audience in the center.
We also created light shows for the mixers (dances) at our school and nearby schools. These consisted of multi-image slide and wet shows, and a few special, home-made lighting effects. The failure of some of these effects taught me how to deal with emergencies (usually fires) and learn from autopsies on the ruined equipment.
During the summer between high school and college, I volunteered as an electrician for “The Threepenny Opera” at Wildwood Summer Theater. This was my first experience with “professional” theater. Many of the staff and actors were college students, studying theater. We worked in a new, fully-equipped, proscenium theater with a multi-scene preset controlled electronic dimmer system. I remember watching the lighting designer create a beautiful slow sunset on the cyc. Later, I went backstage to look at the fixtures he used and found only 3-circuit strip-lights. I was impressed!
At college I started working with the Mimes and Mummers, a student-run drama group that was founded in 1855. We worked in a proscenium theater built in 1905. I worked on every production in my four years there and served as president for the last two years. It was here where I met Tony Giovanetti and Myles Ambrose. From them I learned much about theater, at Fordham and beyond, and also about finding fulfillment in this business. We all, at different times, became Local One members through the apprenticeship program.
Eric Schultz (Stagehand) graduated from Fordham University with the Rev. Alfred Barrett, SJ, Memorial Award (for high ideals in theatre) and began a Local One IATSE apprenticeship at Theatresound/Four Star Stage Lighting, a provider of lighting equipment to almost all of the Broadway and National touring shows. This coincided with the beginning of the transition to computer-controlled lighting on Broadway. In addition to the great hands-on education, he had the opportunity to meet and work with every production electrician and most of the lighting designers in the business.
He was Master Electrician on several shows for the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Public Theater and the Delacorte Theater, including “Goose and Tomtom”, (lighting by Victor En Yu Tan), “The Death of Von Richtofen As Witnessed From Earth” (lighting by Richard Nelson), and “King Richard III” (lighting by Pat Collins).
He was the Laser and Iron Dress Operator for “Sunday in the Park With George” (effects by Bran Ferren), Pyro-technician for “Raggedy Ann” (pyro by Douglas Lange), Technical Consultant for “Big Deal” (lighting by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer), and Laser Safety Officer for the movie “Manhattan Project” (effects by Bran Ferren).
He was Master Electrician at the Joyce Theater for two years, doing over 40 productions, mostly modern dance.
Eric returned to Broadway as Head Electrician for “Into the Woods” (lighting by Richard Nelson), “Tru” (lighting by Ken Billington), “Michael Feinstein in Concert” (lighting by David Agress), “The Secret Garden” (lighting by Tharon Musser), and “Guys and Dolls” (lighting by Paul Gallo).
With Richard Nelson, Tina Charney, and Eric Cornwell, he formed Lucida Corporation to create and market Express Track®, a lighting-cue tracking and analysis software and to design architectural lighting. Their largest architectural project was the exhibition spaces at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
He finished his career as Head Electrician at New York City Center, doing over 600 productions in 25 years, including, in dance – Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor, Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, ABT, Eifman Ballet, and the first 14 seasons of Fall for Dance Festival; musicals – the first 23 years of the Encores! series; straight plays – National Theatre of Greece, Cherry Orchard Festival, Lincoln Center Festival.