The man behind the background


Photographer: Naura R.

Mr. Adrian Borromeo, the backstage assistant, standing in front of the sets for the middle school musical production, Into the Woods

If you have ever been to a drama production at ASD, you must have seen the beautiful sets in the background. Have you ever wondered who makes them?

If you think about it, someone had to cut all that wood, to design it into the forms you see on stage, and all the while make it flexible enough for easy movement yet strong enough to withstand scores of rehearsals and performances. No easy task.

Mr. Adrian Borromeo — most people know him as “Mr. Adrian” — is the backstage assistant at ASD. Mr. Adrian is employed by HOU Services, but his role backstage is not your typical HOU job. 

Mr. Adrian moved to Qatar in 2012 from the Philippines with his wife and daughter and first started working on the set for Little Shop of Horrors and Guys and Dolls at ASD.

“I’m actually a plumber,” Mr. Adrian has said. “I worked in construction for four months, and I got transferred here as the backstage assistant.” From then on, he worked on sets for elementary, middle, and high school musicals including this year’s Seussical. You may have seen the infamous red barber chair contraption he made that was used to ‘dispose of bodies’ in Sweeney Todd.

Mr. Adrian works in the backstage area, unknown territory for most of the ASD community. In a dark corner backstage lies the small carpentry room where he cuts wood and molds metal wires into what you see on stage. Mr. Adrian collaborates with the drama teachers and theater technicians to design the sets. High school students volunteer to help him paint the sets for service hours. From background scenery to interactive props, Mr. Adrian has contributed a lot to creating the ambiance of the musicals and other drama performances.

 Not only does he work on background sets, but Mr. Adrian also does carpentry work for the school. He cuts wood for the art department for art projects or for the display in art exhibitions. Mr. Renauto Luna, the theater operation and facility manager and teacher of the technical theater class, said that the most helpful asset of having Mr. Adrian as the backstage assistant is that he “…also runs our carpentry area which is so useful for me… . We have so much carpentry that needs to be done…not only for the theater but for the entire school.”

Mr. Adrian said he “likes the challenge” his job has to offer. “I studied art in high school. I love art work, and I can continue that here with the props,” he noted.

Mr. Renato Luna, said, “[Mr. Adrian] is really good at solving problems in a creative fashion, which is what is required in working in a theater space.” His interesting job as backstage assistant could be seen as a merging of engineering and arts. It takes both technical skills to craft the sets from wood, but there is also an artistic aspect to it when it comes to designing and painting the sets to enhance scenes. The sets give life to the stage, and they interact with actors to create stories.

The next time you attend an ASD musical or drama production and see the awesome sets, recall how someone behind those curtains went through the creative process of designing and crafting them.