Urinetown: Opening night!
Finally after many tech calls, rehearsals, tech calls after rehearsals, yawns, and hurried meals, it’s OPENING NIGHT! It’s been a long road full of revisions and stress, but it’s finally done. It looks pretty good too! It may be tech week somewhere, but no longer here. Of course, there are things I wish I had more time for and some things I’d like to change, but I’ve been told that’s always the case and there’s never enough time.
Naturally, I didn’t pull this off in a vacuum, so there’re some people I’d like to thank:
Thank you Prof Gross for all of your input, patience, and guidance, especially during cueing.
Thank you Master Electrician Brooks for your hard work and depth of knowledge.
Thank you Technical Director TJ for the extra set of eyes during those late nights.
And Thank you to the cast, stage managers, costume changers, fly team, board ops, carpenters, electricians, and musicians for being AWESOME.
Urinetown, fun with light plots
Finally, after many weeks and a few revisions, I’ve completed my first main stage light plot! I’ve worked through the night on this multiple times and I finally think it’s up to snuff. And apparently my professor thinks so, because he approved it I’m extremely excited to hang and focus this thing!
This plot contains:
- 167 instruments
- 10 lighting positions
- 39 SourceFour 26° ERS
- 47 SourceFour 36º ERS
- 6 SourceFour 19° ERS
- 33 SourceFour PARs
- 26 Fresnelite 6″ Fresnels
- 16 Altman Sky-cyc cells
- 121KW max power draw
Urinetown:The Musical crew assignment
I just received my crew assignment for the spring musical and my final show at Castleton. Much to my delight (and also abject terror) the words “light designer” was scrawled across the top of my script! It seems my enthusiasm for the job and my work for The Shape of Things was noticed. My next several weeks will now bring quite a bit of script reading and research. Let’s go!
The Shape of Things
This October I was given the opportunity to do my first complete light design! It was a student-directed production of Neil Labute’s The Shape of Things, the first of two black-box one-acts going up this year. I’m really excited about this one, it’s a really colorful play which I gave a colorful design.
The black box format presented some unique design challenges. For example, the audience sat on two adjacent sides of the acting area. This means that I needed to create plasticity for nearly 180 degrees of viewing audience. In addition, I was only afforded 48 instruments: 24 6” Altman fresnels and 24 ETC SourceFour Jr. Zooms, plus two scoops for house lighting.
To deal with this problem, I adapted a lesson about arena lighting from last year’s light design class. The idea is that if you’re trying to light a theater-in-the-round type of situation, a minimum of three front systems are necessary. These three systems, warm, cool, and neutral are separated by a 120 degree angle to create the appearance of a warm and cool system on either side of an actor, plus a back light. I adapted this by creating three front systems, the primary one between the two audience sections and another, a warm and a cool, 90 degrees from either side of the center neutral. The result was a slightly different look depending on the exact seat, but good modeling from almost all of the seats.
Having watched the show for the first time without a light board in front of me, there’s a few things I’d change. Overall, it’s a good show.
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
Tonight was the opening night for The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, written by Stephen Aldy Guirgis. The play takes place in a courtroom set on the streets of an urban wasteland purgatory designed by Samantha Daniels. The story revolves around the efforts of a few characters who fight to give Judas Iscariot a chance at forgiveness for betraying Christ. Several colorful figures appear throughout the play, including Mother Theresa, Pontius Pilot, Sigmund Freud, Mary Magdalene, and Jesus Christ. The story is comical at times, but also very touching, especially the ending.
My job was to be the stage left assistant stage manager. I had a list of pre and post show duties to ensure smooth running of the show. I also made sure that actors are in place for the start of the show as well as in place for specific cues during the show. I also found myself assisting actors between their cues when necessary. It was an excellent job to get my feet wet backstage, as I was nervous about my ability to work under the pressure of a live performance. In the end, I think that I did a pretty good job with it.
I’m coming down with a bit of a cough though, it’s an interesting time to work in the wings.
Women and Wallace
As my final project for Stage Management, I was paired up with a Directing II student, Meghan Hakey who directed the one-act Women and Wallace, by Jonathan Marc Sherman. I was to perform all the normal stage managerial duties including keeping a call book, rehearsal and performance logs, cast biographies, and the ubiquitous stage manager’s kit. I learned quite a bit about working with directors, casts, and keeping shows in hand.
Chicago, the musical!
Chicago was a fun production from March, 2012. The play is a lively musical about starlets in the 1920s getting away with murder and competing with each other for position in the public eye.
This was the first time I tried my hand in the costume shop under the theater. I started work well in advance of the show and the costume designs were to make heavy use of business suits. The costume storage contained enough jackets to suit up a small army of college students, but none of them had a size written on them. This is how I got my first job in the shop, I was to measure all the jackets so that matches could be found for the actors. Thirty hours of work later, I had made it through about 75% of the stock. Fortunately, the designers had found enough matches that they didn’t need the rest of them sized and I got to try something else. I decided that I’d wanted to learn to sew, and was set to work fixing buttons and sewing snaps into costumes. Later, I had improved enough to do some simple sewing machine work and was tasked to create six bustles for the dresses worn in the Cell Block Tango scene. As I began to get into my work, I felt that the time it took to do the work no longer mattered. I began to fall into a zone of just my task, the sewing machine, and me. I felt a certain oneness with the machine, I wanted more. Fortunately for me, there was plenty more. I was then tasked to create six diapers for Roxie’s boys in the second act. The job involved lots of polar fleece and elastic bands, which was tricky because the elastic has to be sewn under tension so that the fabric can contract. Each diaper was faster than the one before it and I became more and more proficient with the sewing machine for a novice. I definitely want to do more costume construction in future shows.
Once the show opened, my job transitioned to the running crew. There were two of us and plenty of work to keep us occupied at the beginning and end of the show. The job was to check out costumes against the inventory log at the beginning of the show and check it back in at the conclusion of the performance. In addition, many costumes needed to be laundered, repaired and maintained each day. I worked to repair costumes that had been ripped, torn or otherwise damaged during the run of each show. Occasionally an actor would appear in the shop in quite a big hurry with a torn costume. I performed urgent costume repairs each night, sometimes without even enough time for the actor to remove the costume. I’d snip off the extra thread and off the actor would dash off for their cue. A more durable fix would be applied before the next show. I was really happy with the skills I learned and I hope to learn more in the future.