Archive for the ‘Theatre’ Category

Blogable: Design of Every Day Things

I’m doing the scenic design for my local community theatre’s next production. It’s pretty fun, actually, working out the logistics.

Or at least that’s what I thought.

Until I realized just how small the stage really is.

I don’t know why I thought I could fit four flats across the front of the stage. I was just in a show on that stage, and we clearly only had three flats across and barely a foot of room along each side. It was cramped and dark back there, and I really didn’t have an option to go someplace else, as I was constantly entering and exiting from stage right.

Oh, I didn’t mention, there is no door to “back stage” from stage right. Only from stage left. And the door is less than 5 feet tall, I kid you not. And it goes down a rather steep flight of stairs.

Have I ever mentioned that I have nightmares about short doors that I can’t get through that go down into basements? No? Well… I have recurring nightmares about short doors that I can’t get through that go down into basements.

So I just stayed back stage.

But all that means is I’m a forgetful idiot. I should have known it would fit the way the director thought. But it wasn’t until a month into rehearsals that I realized I could not fit a semi-symmetrical set on that stage. And I refuse to go full-on symmetrical because it will always look wrong.

I had an easy time convincing the director and producer about my overall vision. Slightly off-grey (in two different tints) textured walls, to look kind of plastery, with dark brown trim and square windows to allude to a Tudor cottage feel. White lattice shutters and fences. All around, a lovely feel.

The symmetrical thing, however, seemed to be a problem. The director had such a vivid picture in his head of perfect symmetry, that it was difficult to convince him otherwise. I’ve seen attempts at symmetry on a stage. Unless it is very perfect or purposely off-kilter, it looks… the best word I have is “wrong.” Sets need balance, not symmetry.

After an hour of discussion with the director, who really is a nice guy, we came to an agreement on a set that is partially symmetrical in feel, but at an angle, so not parallel or perpendicular to the stage, and with some off-tilt touches. It even has my favorite thing – exaggerated depth. It suited us both so well that we kept it. We both left that meeting excited, which I think is fabulous. Wanna see?

January 18th, 2007 • 12:21 pm • dinane • Posted in Theatre2 Comments »

Opening Night!

I am exhausted.

I am excited.

I am full of energy that comes from God-knows-where.

I am pumped!

Sabrina Fair opens up tonight and I’m so ready. The rest of the cast is so ready. The board ops are so ready. The stage manager is so ready. Holy crap! It’s a good thing, because we are so going up tonight!

Consider this my pitch. If you’re in the Boston area, you should consider coming to see the show. If you want to see the show, you should email me, and I’ll get you the details. You only have 5 chances to see it, and those chances start today!

Excitement!

Can I take a nap now?

November 10th, 2006 • 10:11 am • dinane • Posted in Theatre2 Comments »

Behave!

Never has it been so hard for me to attend a rehearsal. I mean, seriously. This was a technical. Or was it a dress? Who knows! At least we have another dress today. And tomorrow. And Thursday (though I think it’s some kind of weird invitee/open – dress, so that ought to be special).

Anyway, this was the kind of rehearsal that everyone wants to go to. Is excited about. You know, looks forward to?

Not me.

It was really difficult to leave the house at 6:50 last night. Why? Because there, on the floor by the stairs, sat a box. And it sat conveniently next to the box that the first one came in, making comparing the sizes easy.

When I came in the house, Mike was already home. And that’s why I didn’t have to carry in the box myself.

“YAY! Yay, yay, yay, yay, yay!”

“Too bad you won’t ever be able to play it.”

That was mean, sure, but it may as well be true. The arrival of a pre-ordered video game should be an exciting time. One with the unwrapping of tape. With the fighting with the case. With the putting stickers on the guitar!

But no. I had to leave the box there, and let Mike have the excitement. He was nice enough to play with his guitar from the first game, giving me the opportunity to play the virgin red mini-Gibson. He told me all about it when I came home after 10:30. I lived vicariously through him.

Saturday morning, my precious. That’s when I’ll see you. Saturday morning.

November 7th, 2006 • 9:07 am • dinane • Posted in Theatre, Video GamesNo Comments »

New and Improved

We got new cubes at work. They are no longer cubiclettes. They are actual cubes. Of course, everything is less than perfect. The network admin is running around like a chicken without a head. Except that he has a head. And he’s been able to fix everything. People are whining about the directionality of the file drawers. People are begging for keyboard trays. None of these things affect me. I’m actually pretty content.

I have been called a freak several times, due to the fact that my legs are too long for a keyboard try, and my arms really aren’t having difficulty typing from the level the desk is at. Actually, I’m probably sitting more ergonomically correct at this desk because it forces me to sit up straight. I love being tall sometimes.

In completely unrelated news, this week marks production week for Sabrina Fair. I’m supremely excited. We had our first tech last night, and it didn’t suck. The timing in the third act was a bit wonky, but I think it’ll be awesome by Friday. It may even be awesome by Wednesday.

I really love working on theatre again.

I turned myself into the master paintress I know I am over the last two weekends. I’m responsible for large amounts of faux-granite. I think it looks pretty good, actually, if I do say so myself. And the wallpapered-brickwork goes with it extremely well. It’s almost as if we picked the colors on purpose, rather than randomly opening vats of paint that were living under the stage in a manner that would make most technical directors very nervous.

So, that’s what’s going on. I’m going to be a busy bee this week, both at work and at play, so I have no idea how often I’ll update. It could be anywhere from never to daily. It’ll be a surprise for all of us!

November 6th, 2006 • 10:27 am • dinane • Posted in Life, TheatreNo Comments »

Observations From a Different Kind of Person

On Wednesday, I made a valiant attempt to discretely ask about the painting. The actor playing one of the leads is super-nice, and definitely has been involved in quite a few shows with this company. So I tried to ask if there was a master painter, scenographer, or just know-it-all painter already around the troupe. But I was too discrete, I suppose, so I had to spell it out.

“I really love painting, and I think I’m pretty good at scene-painting. I just want to know if there’s someone I should make sure to defer to, or if I can take some control on that.”

She called over the producer to ask if a certain person was involved in the production. He said he was not, and asked why. This started a conversation that ended with me volunteering to paint approximately 50 square feet of faux marble.

I was thinking about it for the rest of the week. I knew this was my opportunity to impress or be ignored. At least in the tech-related area. So I basically day-dreamed of exactly how it would look, and how I would accomplish it.

Sunday came around, and after church I only had a few minutes to grab some food before I headed over to the hall (which is part of a local church) for 1:30. I had hoped that I’d have time to run to Home Despot (yes, I mean “despot” — until the gigantic Lowes is built, they are a nasty monopoly in my area, so I like to think of them as a tyrant — yes, I’m crazy.), but things happened, and I was just starting my car at 1:25. So I drove straight on over to the church hall.

No one was there.

I rolled my eyes, and just got right back in my car and took off for the Despot. Later, I would find out that the producer had sent an email out pushing back the start time to 2:00.

The big orange store in my area happens to have paint supplies right by the door. That was exciting to me, because I didn’t really want to run all over the store looking for them. I snagged a plastic pail, and started rummaging through the sponge box. I found one that might be okay, but then saw a box containing a starter kit claiming to have an “extra large natural sponge” as well as a VHS tape with instructions on how to faux. I threw the kit under my arm, and went looking for a brush or ten.

I have never used a proper brush to paint a set before. This is mostly a lack of trust. I never really trust people to properly care for a good brush. So I’m used to leaning down to the bins on the bottom and picking up the 50 cent crap. But that day, I was on a mission for a good quality set of brushes for me and me alone. I picked out some that claimed to be “professional” in a 4″, 2″, and 1″ size. I also snagged a package of detail brushes, which contained 5 little brushes and cost less than the 1″ professional brush.

Self check-out is awesome.

When I got back to the hall, at about 2:00, the producer and one of the important-board-member-types were opening things up and chatting about the plan for the day. I wandered in with my bucket full of paint supplies, and the producer was ecstatic to see I had them. The first phase of any set-build day began.

The producer had been bringing in flats and platforms with his jeep all week long, so most things were actually already there. It is nice to have a head start. But that first phase, of pulling out everything, looking at it, and heaving a great, big, “gosh I have a lot of work to do” sigh — that’s a key phase.

The producer started pulling out gallons and gallons of leftover paint. We went through them looking for black and white. No black was to be found, they had used it up on the last set, but a pretty serviceable dark grey seemed appropriate. I also picked out a lovely lavender.

Of course, the one thing that wasn’t ready to be painted needed to be marble… but I forgave him. I tried to find other things to do, before I realized that he also wanted one of the platforms done as well. Fabulous. Paint, paint, paint!

An overview of my painting behavior:

  • My arm is speedy.
  • With a good brush, I can paint faster than most people can roll.
  • But it will be messy.
  • Drop clothes are necessary.
  • Buckets of water for sponging are a requirement.
  • I never leave a brush with paint on it.
  • I obsessively wash out my brushes and sponges.
  • I have a hard time stopping: “Just one more stroke…”
  • I pretend to be modest.

That last one is pretty important. My modesty in the realm of faux painting is minimal at best. I know I’m good. And I was doing my best job to make sure my new theatre group would know it too.

But all that wasn’t what I originally set out to write about today. The real story was in my watching people who I’d never worked with before. It’s weird. They aren’t at all like WPI theatre geeks.

WPI theatre geeks Community theatre geeks
The producer is tired because she majors in something like chemical engineering, and was up late working on differential equations or something. The producer is tired because he was working Faneuil Hall the night before selling his sausages to drunks, making a killing from the 2 AM crowd.
There is no end of people willing, able, and excited to work with lights, sound, or anything electronic. The producer suggests going to get the lights out and everyone groans.
The set design was done in several steps, ending with a CAD drawing with precise measurements and angles. The set design was done in pencil on a piece of paper, which the designer accidentally left at home, and no one is really sure what angle to put the wall at.
“Where is the set design? I want to double-check something.” “Where is the set designer? When will he be back? I guess we’ll just hold this up here until he gets back.”
Half the people at build have a measuring tape, and the other half is constantly borrowing it. There isn’t a measuring tape to be seen, and the closest thing is a twelve inch plastic ruler which is being used to measure wall paper.
Faux paint everything. Wall paper bricks (which, by the way, look awesome, so I guess I have learned something).
Nearly every person at set build knows how to operate at least a screw gun, if not an air-compressor-driven bolt gun. Hand screw drivers seemed to be the preferred tool.
Plastic drop cloths on every surface except where the paint ends up flying to. A piece of fabric that we pretend is a drop cloth, even though it seems obvious to me (and I was right) that the paint will soak through and stain the floor.
Logical measuring of things to make sure everything will fit together is the norm. Trial and error as a method where we can hope it will eventually fit.
“If you aren’t doing anything, follow me down to do some heavy lifting right now!” “All men, if you don’t mind, please come with me to do some heavy lifting.”

But, there were some similarities. There were still “I love paint” people (covered in paint up to our elbows), “paint is okay” people (daintily wielding a brush), and “paint is disgusting” people (staying as far away from all paint-related things). There were still “I’ll hold anything” people (who don’t want to do anything but hold up the wall), “give me that screw gun” people (who like playing with tools), “I’ll climb that ladder” people (who aren’t nervous about heights at all), and “I don’t mind scrubbing the floors” people (who feel responsible for other peoples’ dropped paint). The flats are 4 feet wide, as a general rule. The French doors are hand crafted and temperamental. No one wants to do props. And pizza is considered fuel.

It’s just like home… if home were in an alternate universe.

October 30th, 2006 • 9:51 am • dinane • Posted in Theatre8 Comments »

Super!

Days have passed. More than half a week, in fact. It was Saturday when I saw Jesus Christ Superstar at the North Shore Music Theatre with Mike and Dave. But the music is still swirling in my head. And images of the stage and costumes (and in one case hair) float around in there as well.

In a word, it was awesome.

The traffic heading north and east on routes 1 and 128 was horrendous. To add to that, I let Mike volunteer to drive. He gets very annoyed at weekend drivers. Perhaps I should have drove. But whatever, we made it to the theatre, parked, and headed up to the building.

The NSMT is an in-the-round theatre. The building is, therefore, round. But it’s not just a cylinder. It is reminiscent of a tent, really… a circus tent. Only, I happen to think this is more exciting than the circus. (Though I do like the circus quite a bit.)

I got our tickets from the appropriate box office window, while dealing with hoards of older ladies and gentlemen who apparently are unaccustomed to waiting in line. I really hope I never get old. Or, when I do, that I don’t become an idiot.

We had to walk most of the way around the building to get to our entrance. We showed our tickets to the usher, who gushed, “Oooh… you got good seats!” We smiled, took a program, and walked down… down… down (not that it was a far walk, there are only about 20 rows of seats total) to the second row.

Sweet!

Mike and Dave did that whole examining the tech stuff thing, while I just fidgeted in anticipation. I shared that I think the most important voices are Judas’ and Caiaphas’ – the show is made by good ones and ruined by bad ones. Mike is constantly trying to convince me that Caiaphas can be tone deaf. He’s wrong.

When the show started, I was almost immediately grinning. Not only was Judas good, but so was Jesus, and for that matter, Mary and the others as well. These people don’t fool around.

Plus, Jesus looked just like any crucifix would have you believe he looked. I kind of wonder if he’ll have trouble getting another part until after he cuts his hair back. “I’m sorry. You’re the right height, and your voice is perfect… But you look too… Jesusey… for this role.”

The priests made a big effort to steal the show. Their hats were like eight miles tall, and they threw silver coins around like crazy people. By the time Caiaphas made his booming entrance, I knew I would be a satisfied customer. There is something about that deep, deep sound that really pleases my ears.

The costumes were almost as exciting. Dave was especially impressed by the authenticity. I was impressed because they were pretty…

And the set! Some day I’ll get to work with a stage that has moving parts and trap doors galore. Sooooo much fun! Plus, with the real rigging, they were able to make the final few scenes, especially “Judas’ Death” and “Trial by Pilate”, almost too realistic. Yes… I sobbed like the little girl that I am.

So… what I’m saying is… the show was good (understatement).

And it’s still rattling around in my head.

And that’s good.

Happy ears, happy eyes, happy brain…

Happy brain sings, “What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a happenin’…”

October 11th, 2006 • 10:54 am • dinane • Posted in Music, TheatreNo Comments »

Nothing Super Interesting

We had the read through last night. It was awesome. The play will be awesome. I’m pretty darn excited, really. It appears I’m on stage a pretty good portion of the play, even if I only have a few spot lines here and there.

The director is “trying” having me do the opening monologue. I don’t know what that means. But I do know I will memorize it as fast as humanly possible in an attempt to impress.

He also wants to make it a game of “Where’s Margaret,” like Where’s Waldo. Hence the large amounts of stage time. I must have impressed him at least a little bit at auditions, and that makes me happy.

The girl playing the lead has no experience. She’s adorable, and fits the part well, but I don’t know if I, as a director, would have the courage to give such a gargantuan amount of lines to an unknown. I’m sure she’ll be fabulous. She seems really nice, anyway. And super excited.

So… yeah. That’s that.

I told you it was nothing super interesting.

September 7th, 2006 • 10:45 am • dinane • Posted in Theatre2 Comments »

Neat!

I was just offered and have just accepted a small role in the play I auditioned for! It would appear that my dominating height has more affect on my appearance than my age, as I have been cast as a character who is described as both extremely tall and rather old. Makeup can age a girl, though.

Neat!

Yay!

:-D

August 31st, 2006 • 9:55 am • dinane • Posted in Theatre5 Comments »
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