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Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

“A Pile of Memories” from Julia Welch

In Uncategorized on February 24, 2012 at 4:12 PM

When I get home from working in the scene shop, the first thing I do is empty my pockets.  I’m always taking home a bit of lumber, or a screw, or some fabric and I began placing these items on my kitchen table.  The items have now formed a small pile of memories.  Each little thing reminds me of a project that I’ve worked on.

There’s a rag covered with dark blue paint from a day spend on my hands and knees in the New Theatre painting in tiny holes in the stage.  There is a piece of sandpaper from smoothing out the facing on a giant portal made for ANIMAL CRACKERS.  There is a bit of lumber I cut off some flats I made too long.  There are a lot of ear plugs.  A lot, lot, lot of earplugs. The blue fabric is from the rain effect in WHITE SNAKE and that reminds me of, again, spending days on my hands and knees in the New Theatre cutting yards and yards and yards.  Come to think of it, I feel like most of my internship has been spend on my hands and knees in the New Theatre.

Plus pencils, screws, nails, bolts, washers, pencils a plenty, safety glasses and bandaids (If I carry bandaids, I won’t have to use them.  If I forget, I will most likely cut myself.  I don’t know how that works, but it does).  Plus my coffee mug, an extra taken from the scene shop.

It may look like junk to other people, but it’s a pile of memories to me.

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“Beginnings of FAIRPlay: Yellow Face” from Tatiana

In Uncategorized on February 24, 2012 at 3:55 PM

A tedious selection process from the get-go, the FAIR Boarshead committee finally managed to select a play, “Yellow Face” by David Henry Hwang.

Scenic design-wise, this play (ideally) is a “piece of cake.” It’s a play that’s not very location specific and allows wiggle room for design- factors which are perfect for our artistic team (and our budget).

Unfortunately, many obstacles and limitations over the course of a few weeks have arisen, resulting in making the design process more tedious, difficult and, to be quite honest, frustrating. But with all challenges and obstacles we faced as a team, I finally was able to come up with a feasible set design to work with. It takes into account our theatrical space, limited budget, and the individual, artistic aesthetics of four directors.

And that brings us to one of the more interesting aspects of FAIRPlay…four directors for one show. As a scenic designer, I have never encountered such a situation before. However terrifying a notion this sounds to many designers, I personally am one to enjoy a challenge and enthusiastically looked forward to it. And boy, did getting every director’s artistic needs into the design prove a challenge. Had we a large budget and crew, each director could have had their own personalized set. The problem is, since we are so limited in resources, time and financial support, a lot of compromising went on to give us one, all encompassing scenic design. Consequently, the set currently functions as a space that can be manipulated in different ways to fit the needs of each individual director. Continuity and through-line seemed of the upmost importance to each director because of the message of this piece, so many of the same scenic elements will be used for other director’s scenes. Conceptually, the design revolves around the idea of newspapers and headlines, things that make up the mental world and personal life of the lead character. The set is dynamic, minimalistic and gives a great deal of play room for the directors because of its potential for transformation.

The set design is still a work in process…have to wait to see if it’s under budget and approved, but so far I’m happy with it. We’ll just have to wait now for “Green Light.”

“You Can Thank Me for the Buttons” from Kaylyn Kilkuskie

In Uncategorized on February 24, 2012 at 3:51 PM

At the start of a meeting I had last week  with a director I was graced with the general pleasantry of “what have you been working on?” I had been working on an unrelated show at the time which lead to a question I had not expected. “Well, what can I thank you for?”

A project can and will go through a variety of hands through the course of its sort of coming into being. The level of work a stitcher will  do on a project varies. I have had pieces of fabric handed to me, ready to be turned into a garment and I will construct it, or I could be hand stitching hems or trim or just ironing giant water spirit sleeves.  A project never 100% created from start to finish by a single person, there are designers, assistants, shoppers, cutters, drapers, and stitchers. Not all are required for one piece, but more often than not that is how these costumes/ costume props come into being and in many ways that is the beauty of it.

Though my answer to the question ended up being less concise the next day this phrase came to me.“You can thank me for the buttons.” And though this is not all I do, it’s a part that to those of us who get to have these things in our hands, 2 feet from our face we know the difference for sure and some people may never consciously notice, but next time you see a show imagine it without buttons.

“The Things You Won’t Ever See” from Julia Welch

In Assistantship on February 10, 2012 at 3:36 PM

What I’m enjoying most about working in the scene shop are small projects that require some sort of creative problem solving. I like being given a task and told to figure out how to best create the piece. The first one I did was an arched piece to be added on top of the ANIMAL CRACKERS portal. I was given measurements, but then pretty much let free to build it as I pleased. I finally feel like I’m comfortable enough in the shop to work as I want. I can grab lumber and play with the scraps. I can wander to and from, in and out of the theatres (well not wander, more move with a purpose). I can confidently use most of the machinery without having to ask for help or permission. And I feel ok if something doesn’t go exactly right.

My very first project on day one was to cut these strips of fabric that will drop from the ceiling and indicate rain in THE WHITE SNAKE.  It’s a beautiful design and a cool concept, but a pain to create. I used this light blue poly silk called voile. The first problem was that the edges of the fabric fray like crazy when it’s cut, and the designer doesn’t want to surge the sides. What the carpenters came up with was using a hot knife that burns as it cuts so the poly melts and seals off the edges as it goes. But it took a long time and it was nearly impossible to get a strait line since these things are 30 feet long!

There was not enough room in the shop, nor clean space, to lay out the fabric and work so Chris (the other scenic carpentry assistant) and I were set up in a hallway over in the New Theatre. Make use of wherever you are, I guess. We cut some masonite stencils, but it still took about forty minutes per piece and we had to make 32 of them. It was a long first few days!

The sheets are so tall and have to be rolled up every night, or between changeovers. It’s a time consuming process so I was also tasked with finding a way to wind them up easily and quickly and simply.

I ended up building a piece that gets mounted to a wall that will hold a slotted dowel. The fabric can be loaded on the dowel and then any phillips screw gun can wind it up.  I made a few prototypes and played with different modes of adhering and releasing the fabric. It’s funny to think I spend a bunch of time making something that will never be seen by an audience, but will save the crew hours of time.

I ended up with a design that worked, and worked well enough that I was asked to make a few more of them!  It was great to see all sides of a project from start to finish.  And I liked the freedom to play, to be creative, and to experiment.  I hope there’s more of that down the line.

“Snake Tail Today” from Kaylyn Kilkuskie

In Assistantship on February 10, 2012 at 3:33 PM

The other night I returned home with some new holes in my fingertips from working my needle between wire, through plastic and bias tape (for White Snake). There were spirals upon spirals that needed to be sewn in a way that I just couldn’t make my hands execute with any sort of grace, resulting in a “good enough…maybe” sort of situation.  The person who had given me the project had done one of these tails already and was probably just happy that she didn’t have to make the second one completely on her own.

Setting up the project seemed to be quite the effort in itself. There was an “oooo ahhh” moment when I went back to my station. “What are all of those pins for?” I think I can safely say that there were over 100 safety pins in my project. About 6 hours later all the pins had been removed and I got to move on to the next stage.

With the next stage I came to realize that the first part was mainly tedious and part two was the official challenge, now the project was cumbersome and fighting how it wanted to be held as it was worked on.  And the day finally came to an end.  I was less than proud, somehow hoping people wouldn’t see the flaws in my stitch work and stamp me on the forehead “incapable”.  Now I am aware that this is quite a dramatic thought process, but it happens.

The shop started emptying out and I took one last moment with the snake tale, I was happy for the challenge and the knowledge of how to potentially handle the construction of one if the necessity ever came about again, and I reminded myself that it was functional, beauty comes with time, which I still have. As always tomorrow is another day and sometimes things go wrong, and more often than not they don’t, so I am going to focus on those in order to get through days like these.  Plus how cool is it to say that you made a snake tail today?

“A Pocket Sized Enchanted Carriage” from Tatiana Kuilanoff

In Fellowship on February 10, 2012 at 3:12 PM

When it comes to model making, rules and guidelines are virtually nonexistent. Yes, books are sold giving tips and advice on how to construct a “realistic” looking brick wall or a standard dining chair in a variety of scales and sizes…but sometimes these instruction manuals don’t provide all the answers. From time to time, you get that one project that is so complex and difficult in function or shape that you don’t know where to begin.

In short, you’re stumped.

You sit there at an impasse, looking down at a scrap pile of paper, glue, tape, a variety of wooden sticks, blades, modeling paste, etc. and you wonder why your dumb manual didn’t mention how to build this particular thing. You think, “How do I do this? Where do I even start?”

It can be frustrating at first and make you momentarily insane, but honestly, it’s one of the more exciting feats one can take on when building model pieces. Why you ask? Simple- because it allows you to be creative and use your imagination.

I encountered such a scenario myself not too long ago. The challenge: building a ½” scale model of Cinderella’s Pumpkin Carriage. Sounds simple enough, that is until you look at it more closely and try to figure out how to build it. Who knew a pumpkin had so many grooves and curves! Initially, I hadn’t the foggiest idea how to build it. All I had were the basics: paper, glue, modeling paste, sandpaper, blades and who knows what else. Consequently, this project was going to be one big experiment.

I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

I started off by cutting bits of paper and gluing them together to form a globelike structure. However, at first it looked nothing like a pumpkin (more like a sad little scrap ball put together). So then I whipped out the modeling paste and smothered my paper globe. This part took a bit of waiting time because everything had to dry before you could add more layers. Nevertheless, it showed promise as grooves of a pumpkin began to form.

After what I deemed enough paste (didn’t want to get too putty happy), I sanded down the structure to give it a smooth finish.

Putting aside the main body of the structure, I began working on the wheels of the carriage. Wheel spokes, the thickness of floss, were sliced from wooden dowels while the wheels themselves were cut from a variety of cardstock. Once the wheels were done and the pumpkin body completely dry, I began to gold leaf the pumpkin carriage. (This was the most enjoyable part because I had never gold leafed before. It was quite exciting!)

Taking all the parts and pieces, I finally glued the structure together and miraculously, Cinderella’s Pumpkin Carriage was born.

…This project ran the course of a few days, but I was most relieved when I finished it.

Looking back, this project initially proved itself quite challenging. No instruction manual. But because of a bit of creativity and imagination, I managed to successfully build Cinderella’s Carriage. So let that be a lesson to ya…if there’s a will (plus a bit of imagination), there’s a way.

FAIR 2012

In Assistantship, Fellowship, Internship, Residency on February 3, 2012 at 11:56 PM

Hello FAIR 2012!  It’s going to be such an exciting season here in Ashland.  Not only are there eleven amazing shows to be a part of, but any number of theatrical opportunities!  Be sure to follow us on facebook as we embark on this remarkable adventure! Tickets are on sale now – Previews begin  February 17th

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