A USITT First: The Prop Lab

by Stage Directions

With the first ever Prop Lab happening on the USITT Stage Expo floor in Fort Lauderdale, SD asked the prop lab curator, last year’s Early Career Honors speaker, Jay Duckworth, to give us a quick introduction to the all-stars prop team of talent he has brought together.
“When David Grindle called me this summer and said that he wanted to do a Props Lab he stated, ‘I want artists to walk away with something of value.’ So I asked myself, ‘Who would I want to learn from and who would I like to invite to share knowledge with the next generation of props people. Also, who would make learning interactive and fun.’"

Celebrating a Decade of Innovation

by Michael S. Eddy
Point Source Audio is celebrating 10 years of innovations
Point Source Audio is celebrating 10 years of innovations

A Q&A with Point Source Audio Founder & President James Lamb

In January, Point Source Audio (PSA), a manufacturer specializing in the development of miniature microphones and headsets, kicked off its year-long 10th Anniversary celebration. To commemorate their ten years of microphone innovations and express their appreciation to the arts and audio community, PSA will donate $10,000 worth of products to nonprofits through their ‘Decades of Innovation’ contest. Stage Directions recently spoke with James Lamb, founder and president of PSA to discuss the company’s commitment to anticipating and meeting clients’ needs, their anniversary, and how PSA supports the unique requirements of theater.

It is Womens Work

by Lisa Mulcahy
Tara Mallen of Chicago’s Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
Tara Mallen of Chicago’s Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

Chicago’s Rivendell Theatre Ensemble produces brave work bringing feminist ideals to the forefront

In today’s socially awakening America, women’s voices are ringing out regarding issues of equality, the fight against sexual harassment, and feminist pride. Although many women are newly empowered by the courage it takes to speak their truth, Tara Mallen of Chicago’s Rivendell Theatre Ensemble has been fighting this good fight, and expressing her commitment artistically, as the company’s artistic director/producer since 1994.

Lets Get Moving

by Michael Eddy

Welcome to the February issue of Stage Directions. This month is all about movement. Whether it’s scenery onstage moving laterally side to side—or upstage to downstage—via a wagon or scenic track; going around on a turntable; flying in and out with a winch or counterweighted lineset, we take a look at the various ways scenic designers add movement into their designs—and the tools that technical directors and stagehands rely on to make it all actually work.

Round & Round

by Bryan Reesman

Designers on The Good and The Bad of Working With Turntables 

These days many Broadway producers feel compelled to barrage audiences with as many bells and whistles as possible, particularly in musicals. At a talkback for the 2010 revival of Promises, Promises, one crew member told our group that he worked on the original 1968 production, and back then all Jerry Orbach had to do when performing “She Loves Basketball” was sing the number with some personal movement and little else happening onstage. Now people expect more motion and energy in the background and all around. Turntables can bring a dynamic motion and energy to a show, but they can also present technical and performance challenges for cast and crew. With this in mind, I reached out to four talented scenic designers—Anna Louizos, Beowulf Boritt, David Gallo, and John Lee Beatty—to collect their insights on the topic.

Solving the Lighting Challenges for The Lucky Ones

by Stage Directions

Needing a very specific, yet flexible, lighting solution for his theatrical lighting design for Die Gluecklichen (The Lucky Ones), LD Wolfgang Eibert turned to the ARRI S30-C SkyPanel. This LED softlight—known as a light for film and TV productions, with an adjustable color temperature control, but also a full-range of colors—has been getting more and more use in theater applications.

Will It Sell?

by Howard Sherman

In the seven years since I, rather accidentally, began advocating on behalf of academic productions, at both the high school and college level, that have faced censorship, these four phrases above have been among those that recur with almost startling regularity. When these caveats are recounted to me, by educators and students who seek to fight against censorship, I do my best not to chuckle at these “greatest hits” in the censor’s repertoire, but I do make clear that this is hardly the first time I’ve heard such arguments. This was the case with August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone in Connecticut in 2011, with Sweeney Todd in New Hampshire in 2014, and with the musical Ragtime in New Jersey in 2017, to name but three examples.

There is another phrase that regularly crops up, but it is seemingly a less overt obstacle to those facing opposition to show choices for the first time.
“We don’t think it will sell, and you need to make your income budget.”