Art Meets Organization

by Randi Minetor
Scenic Artist Grace Brandt
Scenic Artist Grace Brandt

How Grace Brandt, one of NY’s top scenic artists, made it to the Met—and beyond

The Dmitri Tcherniakov scenic design for Prince Igor at the Metropolitan Opera called for the principals to walk through a field of poppies—not a painted backdrop, but a practical meadow dense with nodding flowers. The blooms were slated to cover every inch of the Met’s immense stage floor, grazing the singers’ knees as they crossed through them. “Twelve thousand five hundred poppies,” says Grace Brandt, scenic artist at the Met during the opera’s construction. “Each one was on a spring wire, so the performers could walk through them and not damage them.”  A lesser company might purchase plastic flowers for such a scene, but that wouldn’t do at the Met, where grand opera productions stay in the repertoire for decades. “The word was that if you bought plastic poppies, they would fall apart and break,” Brandt says. “Sets at the Met are built to store and be used again, so we needed poppies that would withstand that.”

Balancing Audio and Life

by Vincent Olivieri

Sound designer Elisheba Ittoop talks about her path in the audio field

Sound designer and composer Elisheba Ittoop is always working to maintain a good balance between various aspects in her life. She balances her theatre design career with other sound design work. She balances her work life and her family life. She balances maintaining professional footholds in multiple American cities. Every designer must find their own balance, and Ittoop works every day to constantly adjust hers, taking advantage of her background and skillsets to craft a life that has the right balance for her and responding to changes in her life to adjust her professional activity.

Career is the Operative Word

by Michael Eddy

I just returned from the annual United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT) Conference and Stage Expo. This is my favorite show since it brings together the widest representation of the theatrical production industry—technical directors, designers, technicians, consultants, educators, manufacturers and suppliers; across every different discipline and production craft, be they masters or early career. It’s a wonderful reminder to all of us how diverse, innovative and talented those who follow a production path in theatre are, but it also speaks to the wealth of careers there are in our industry.

Clandestine Learning

by David McGraw
L to R: Laura Krause (SM) and Amber K. Lewandowski (shadow) Washington National Opera Production: Tristan & Isolde
L to R: Laura Krause (SM) and Amber K. Lewandowski (shadow) Washington National Opera Production: Tristan & Isolde

How to Shadow a Stage Manager

Contrary to novels & TV shows, this kind of shadowing is not about spying on suspicious SMs, but observing them as they call shows. One of the best ways to improve your stage management skills is to observe other stage managers in action. Shadowing a SM is both an incredible learning opportunity and a way to network for potential future employment. So how should a new stage manager handle shadowing a veteran SM?

Elevating the Pit

by Bryan Reesman

Sound designer Mick Potter’s Sunset Boulevard design

Onstage no one inhabits the role of tragic movie icon Norma Desmond quite like Glenn Close, and the acclaimed actor has returned to the character that earned her a Tony Award back in 1995. While the show has a set worthy of Desmond’s deluded sense of grandeur about her lost career, it can be both epic and intimate, a concept echoed by Mick Potter’s sound design, which is an integral part of the storytelling. In fact, the staging of the show dictated much of how the miking works.

Enter Stage Right...

by Michael Eddy
SD Editor-in-Chief, Michael S. Eddy
SD Editor-in-Chief, Michael S. Eddy

Editor's Note

So, this is my first issue as editor-in-chief of Stage Directions magazine and I can only aspire to helm it as well as Jacob Coakley did over the past decade. I’d like to thank Jacob for the years of editing me as a contributing writer, I was in training without even realizing it, and for leaving me with a great group of authors.

It’s All in the Details

by Bryan Reesman
Designer David Gallo
Designer David Gallo

Scenic Designer David Gallo Brings '70’s Pittsburgh to Life for August Wilson’s Jitney

For Tony-Award-winning scenic designer David Gallo, creating the set for the Broadway debut of August Wilson’s Jitney staged at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre was like stepping into history. Many of the painted elements were distressed, many props alluded to the past, and the set was imbued with a sense of location history. He believes that designers have an incredible responsibility when working on such shows; in this case, it takes place in the Hill District of Pittsburgh in the fall of 1977.

Life Song

by Michael Eddy
Ann Sachs with Roger Morgan
Ann Sachs with Roger Morgan

"A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” – Maya Angelou

Actor, businesswoman, and writer Ann Sachs talks about her song

Ann Sachs started her theatrical career as an actress, and she was successful at that role in her life—she worked on Broadway, most notably co-starring with Frank Langella in Dracula. Along her journey as an actress, she fostered a love for new works, she performed in a wide range of regional theatres, and she met her future—in the person of lighting designer Roger Morgan.

Muslin, Paint and Light

by Michael Eddy

Leading backdrop companies suggest ways to put your backdrop in the best light

So, you decide to rent some backdrops for your next production. A good backdrop can really tie a scene design together and lighting can help—or hinder—the overall design. Good lighting paired with the scenic artist’s work will really make the drop come to life. You spent a lot of time on the different backdrop company’s websites and catalogs picking the just right drops to make your production stand out. You did all that planning and research; shouldn’t you spend a little time thinking about how you’re going to light these drops to get the most out of them?

Necessity–The Father of Innovation

by Stage Directions

Eartec is the reliable, user-friendly choice for communications

When you think of a headset getting a lot of abuse, you probably picture an irate football coach throwing his on the ground protesting a referee’s call. When the football coach has hand-built the headset, there is far less throwing. That’s exactly how Eartec began with the invention of the Porta Phone, designed specifically for, and by, a football coach.