Sunday, January 29, 2012

Long Overdue

Well, It's about time I get this thing back on track. I don't remember what I last updated on but I'm sure I'm forgetting some stuff and it will just get dropped. Sorry about that for anybody who was deeply invested. I've been neck deep in our spring production of Mill Girls. It opens this weekend and I'm almost finished, but then it's right back into work and starting on the Jungle Book. As an exercise for the uninitiated in tech theatre, design and tech direction when all of this is done I'm going to do a small primer on the step by step approach of designing, building, painting, and teching a show for those who don't know what all goes into it. I think it will be kind of neat to document it from start to finish and since I may actually present at the BG alum gathering that is happening I'd like to have a recent design through the whole process. So if I haven't described Mill Girls it is exactly like it sounds. Girls in the early textile industry who work in mills and fight for their rights as workers and go on strike etc. It's actually a pretty good (albeit short) show. The set features a boarding house, the gate to the factory, the main factory floor and a couple of general playing areas that are used for a couple of different purposes.

I was a little concerned about the floor going into this but I think it turned out alright. We're actually seating people on stage and over flowing into the house only if needed so it's going to be a really intimate, mostly thrust stage. All the curtains and soft goods except the cyc have come down and we're playing up the fact that we're in an industrial looking theatre and we are even using the loading bridge as the roof of a building a girl is going to jump from. It's turning out pretty nicely. The floor and gate are pulled as closely as my skill allows from the actual mill the play is based on. The entrance is a cobblestone drive leading into an open courtyard surrounded by factory and the work floor is planked rustic wood. My facebook has an album of the field trip the cast took to see the mill.

The picture on the left is an almost finished product when it comes to the floor. I have a little minor work left on in. I took this standing on the second story of our boarding house which I had to re-engineer from the house we had built for Pippi Longstockings. It looks similar but it entirely different and was completely taken apart and reassembled. I have a different view for this show. I'll be running sound from the corner of the stage and we've got both lights and sound control sitting on stage behind the audience with a live "band" of found instrument percussion which actually its a lot of fun.
I am affectionately calling this sound post as the "cage" because its shoved into the corner sitting next to our electronics box and I'm literally caged in with stuff on all for sides of me and a laptop between me and the board. It's pretty tight quarters and I can't move without a search and rescue expedition to come after me.

While I'm just about ready to be done with this show I've had a great time with it because we're really pushing what the community here views as theatre. While I've seen stuff like this done before, for our group it's fairly extreme and will confuse and weird some people out as they realize not all theatre has to be proscenium, bright and shiny musicals. I'm looking forward to the reactions. I've also gotten to play with the space a lot and I'm continuing my love of practical lighting as stage light and above the factory floor we've got 4 Ikea work lights hooked into the dimmers to actually function and it really adds a lot to the space.

They look better in context and by next week I should have some good photos of the final set and some lighting, we'll see how that goes.

I've had a couple of long nights in there painting floors and working lights, but it's 89% finished so I'm into the home stretch and starting to think out Jungle Book which has me both tired and excited. I'm starting to burn out, but Jungle Book is the last major show and then it's pretty much done for awhile other than our benefit concert thing, and then maybe a break.
End of a night of painting.

The Jungle Book plan thus far is (since it's children's theatre) to have the set as a playground, with slide, rope net rope swing and monkey bars but taken over by jungle. So think of the movie Jumanji when the jungle takes over everything. It will be like that creeping in, overgrown with plants and made of bamboo and wood. As if a child was literally out at recess and imagining this jungle land of talking animals and setting on what he or she has available to play with at the time. I'm excited and this will be another pretty non traditional set for me. That's all for now I'll be back soon with some more pictures and more exciting news including (hopefully if I can find time to start) documenting the making of a headboard out of an old 4 panel door that's sitting in my shop right now.