In a pitch dark sound booth at the back of the Carol Franc Buck Hall of the Arts theatre, Hannah Ozeran glances up from the soundboard, checks in with the backstage crew by radio, dims the house lights, and signals the opening cue. As the first actors come onstage, Hannah adjusts the faders for their microphones, checks to be sure the audience is hearing what they should, and prepares to give the crew their next set of cues.
As Technical Director of the Performing Arts Department, Hannah Ozeran is one of San Domenico’s most important members of the Theatre Department. But don’t be surprised if you have never actually seen her! She is usually found behind the scenes—literally—supporting musical and theater productions, setting the stage lighting, designing sets and props for school productions, creating audio systems for performers and presenters, and running the student tech crew.
“What I do in the Performing Arts department is a combination of technical direction, production design, and then all sorts of carpentry, electrical, and maintenance. The way I see it, my job description is simple: ensure that everyone hears what they are supposed to hear, sees what they are supposed to see, and that people leave the show happy,” says Hannah.
“The funny thing is, as far as the technical aspects of putting on a show, if no one knows you're there, you're doing a really good job,” says Hannah with a laugh. “It’s only when things go wrong that people remember we're here.”
Fortunately for San Domenico, Ms. Ozeran keeps everything running smoothly for the musicals, plays, graduations, presentations, shows, and community events large and small that take place on campus every year. “For our annual SD Celebrates fundraiser, somehow Hannah takes a location with limited lighting and audio capabilities, and creates a magical community experience for our guests,” gushes Assistant Director of Advancement Deanna Bruton. “And she does this effortlessly, and with a smile.”
Hannah works her special kind of magic not only with stage engineering and technology, she also has a gift for working with our students. “Being a part of the Tech Crew, known as The Techlings, is an after-school activity,” explains Hannah. “So even though I’m teaching kids all the time, I’m not going to give them a grade. As a result, the students don’t see me as a teacher and are a little more relaxed. While there are pros and cons to that,” she freely admits, “when the pressure of grades is removed, the students feel comfortable asking questions and listening to corrections. And we really have fun. That said, I always warn them, ‘The closer we get to the show, the stricter I'm going to be,’” laughs Hannah. “By the time we get to Tech Week, it has to be right, whether it's getting a cue on time or some part of the set that we're building or whatever it is.” Tech Week is the last week of rehearsals when the cast and crew run through the entire show four days in a row. “During Tech Week we make sure that everything is really done, actually functioning as it should be, and we have everything we need. Nothing's missing. We're really ready to go,” explains Hannah.
While Hannah may not be handing out grades, she most certainly plays a vital role as mentor to SD’s theatre students. “Hannah brings the kids along into her world of creation, theatre tech, and shows them how to have fun,” explains Heather Wright-Ojha, SD’s Advancement Systems Manager and mother of Rani W-O. ’26. Rani has acted in several San Domenico productions, and recently joined Hannah’s Tech Crew. “Since I’ve mostly been an actor on stage, it will be interesting to see what it’s like on the tech side of a production,” said Rani. “Plus, I can't wait to use power tools!”
Sometimes, not everything goes according to plan. “One time I was trying to get a bunch of students to quiet down before a holiday show. Turns out there was a salamander backstage, and everyone was very excited about it! That was cute. However, another time backstage during Legally Blonde, two sixth grade technicians ran smack into each other and one got a bloody nose. Luckily we had some parent chaperones there to help out the students,” exclaimed Hannah. “Our parent volunteers are wonderful.”
Some of Ms. Ozeran’s favorite projects have been making things out of unexpected materials. For example, in the recent production of Mamma Mia!, she ended up creating a realistic tile roof out of corrugated cardboard packing from her recently purchased dining room table. “This was a last-minute addition to the set,” she said, “but it really put the scene on the Mediterranean coast.” Also for Mamma Mia!, the Tech Crew turned stage extension platforms into a seaside dock, painting concrete forms to look like wooden pylons. The students made hundreds of foam barnacles with faux seaweed glued to their sides. “These small touches make the set come alive, even if the audience barely realizes they are there,” she says proudly.
“Creating Rapunzel’s tower for Into the Woods was another favorite project of mine,” recalls Ms. Ozeran. “We created a realistic looking ten-foot tall stone tower using trompe l'oeil, an illusionary painting process that makes things appear three dimensional to the audience. We spent more than 16 hours painting the stones,” she admits with a laugh. “I’ve also made stone walls out of recycled foam donated by a local appliance store. This material is ideal because it is lightweight and three-dimensional, especially important for pieces that are closer to the audience,” she explains.
Connecting with the Tech Crew students is done mostly through making things for the stage productions after school. “When I was in school, it was hard for me to learn from lectures, and hard for me to write. I much preferred to make things, which is when my learning really happened. When there is a project that I know I’m going to have fun building, the students are going to have fun too. I teach our Tech Crew how to use our tools safely, and give instruction on how to do things, but also give them the freedom to try things on their own. I know how much growth and confidence comes from learning by doing.”
Ms. Ozeran and the Tech Crew are currently finishing up building sets before jumping into tech week for the spring production of The 39 Steps, before switching gears to Disney’s The Descendants: The Musical later this semester. We can’t wait!
Hannah Ozeran has two Bachelor degrees in Applied Science, one in Interactive Audio and one in Sound Arts. From the age of 6 to 22, Hannah was on stage in a pre-professional ballet conservatory program in Los Angeles, followed by a modern dance company in Fresno. In between rehearsals and dance classes she earned a first degree black belt in Taekwondo. When not putting on productions and doing lighting and sound checks, she can be found playing board games like Sushi Go and Mysterium with her many cousins and updating the Instagram account of her handsome, if rotund, marmalade cat named Zeus.