Max Budnick’s New Role as Technical Theatre Director

Shirley Wang

Max Budnick has become the face of technical theater at Friends Select, but when he began at Friends Select, he wasn’t involved in the program at all. In fact, the technical theater program wasn’t even a program.

Max first worked as a receptionist at the front desk. His first step into the theater program came three years later when, after helping to deconstruct one of the school’s previous sets, he was asked if he would like to work on the set for the school’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher.

“That was also while our theater was being renovated,” he recalls. “When the theater got renovated, there wasn’t anybody to do lighting and sound, so they asked me if I would be willing to learn,” he explains. 

But, “It got really hard to do both of those jobs well,” he says. So when Friends Select announced they were looking to hire a full-time technical theater director, Max was quick to apply for the position. “I went through the interview process and was lucky enough to get the gig.” 

In his new position, Max leads a technical theater class, A.V. club, and stage crew. So far in technical theater, Max’s students have worked with microphones, projectors, power tools, and the lighting system in the theater. Along with stage crew, they’re constructing the set for Friends Select’s fall production of Metamorphoses

Max hopes that his technical theater students will be able to help out with the middle school play too. 

“My view for the future of the theater and for the technical theatre program is very student driven. I want them to be designing and building the set. I want them to be doing the lighting,” Max says. “I’m hoping that as many students that are interested get to learn how to do that. And then no matter what needs to happen in the theater, there’s several kids in the upper and middle school that can help facilitate that.” 

However, Max’s goals for his programs go beyond lights or set design. 

“I’ve been trying to figure out how to structure this class in a way that makes the students feel like what they’re learning is something they can use outside of theater,” he says. “I’m trying to teach pragmatic life skills through the lens of technical theater. I want my students to be looking at things with a critical or creative eye.” 

Another one of Max’s projects has been to renovate studio 4, the massive room full of discarded props and assorted construction materials, a room he believes to be tragically underutilized. 

“I feel like a lot of people don’t know about this space,” Max says. “One of the things that I’ve been doing is figuring out how best to utilize the space that we have down here, reorganizing it and making it more of a proper wood shop. I like the idea of this being a space that can be used by other classes.” 

As Technical Theater Director, Max has already brought new creative opportunities to Friends Select. He’s just begun, though, and will continue looking for ways for his students and the theater program to enrich the larger community. “That’s my long term goal for sure,” he says.