Space To Learn - The Theaters in Allard Hall at MacEwan University

by Michael Eddy
The Triffo Theatre
The Triffo Theatre

Located in downtown Edmonton, Canada, MacEwan University’s new Allard Hall Performing Arts Centre boasts purpose-built spaces including The Triffo Theatre, a 450-seat proscenium theater; a flexible, 140-seat black box theater, the Theatre Lab; the 250-seat Betty Andrews Recital hall; and a complement of rehearsal spaces, theater production shops, and two recording studios.  Allard Hall was designed by the late architect Bing Thom, along with Edmonton design firm Manasc Isaac. The theater consultants for the project were the U.S.-based Stages Consultants (SC), who provided theater planning, acoustics design, and performance audio-visual design. “Our scope covered all the theatrical spaces and support spaces,” notes SC principal Alec Stoll. “In addition to seating, site lines, and theater planning, we dealt with the acoustical isolation from all of the other spaces in the building. We did the AV systems and the production video for the theaters too.”

A Very Full Empty Space

by Michael Eddy

Theater spaces. There is nothing better than sitting alone in a theater, just contemplating the space around you. I love to sit alone with my thoughts in a theater and just look at it. I love the architecture and structure of theaters and discovering the reasoning behind their design and detailing. It’s more than a purposeful room; it’s a space, even when it is ‘empty’. But a theater is never really empty, even when it is, as we say, ‘dark’. This space is filled with emotion, a sense of purpose, a drive. In its design alone it is full of ideas, details, and expectations. Everyone who enters it—no matter who—theater artisan or audience—brings something to it. Everyone who enters this space will leave something as well, hopefully not hard candy wrappers. Yes, it may look empty, but it’s not. It is filled with the things that make it a theater, it’s merely waiting for the theater artisans to enter and create.

Conjuring the Potterverse: Christine Jones Imagines the World of Harry Potter for the Stage

by Howard Sherman
Jones’ Potter set in the Lyric Theatre
Jones’ Potter set in the Lyric Theatre

When it began in England two years ago, set designer Christine Jones was charged by director and co-conciever John Tiffany to create a visual world for the eighth Harry Potter tale, the stage production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. A smash in London, it arrived on Broadway last month as the most expensive play in Broadway history. During previews it has already set Broadway box office records. Plans are already well underway for it to reach Australia next year. Having done undergraduate work at Concordia University in Montreal, after which she received her MFA from New York University, Jones made her professional debut in 1992 with a production of Tartuffe at Hartford Stage, and has gone on to numerous credits in regional theater, Off-Broadway, opera and Broadway, including the musicals Hands on a Hardbody, Spring Awakening and American Idiot. She sat down to talk about the world of Harry Potter and her design career in mid-April, just ahead of the American opening of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Cue Mother Nature...Go!

by Lisa Mulcahy
Audra McDonald in 110 in the Shade at Roundabout Theatre Company.
Audra McDonald in 110 in the Shade at Roundabout Theatre Company.

Wind, rain, fog, and smoke—these visually striking elements can enhance a production tremendously. But to do it right, you need to be sure you have a view toward how atmospheric effects should compliment your show as a whole—and leave lots of time for working out the kinks. You really need to understand how to properly plan and execute your effects, from both an aesthetic and a safety standpoint. You want to be thinking about the details of an atmospheric effect as early in the production as possible so all the other production elements can make any accommodations in advance for the atmospheric effect. SD sought out some expert advice on atmospheric effects by consulting J&M Special Effects in Brooklyn, New York.

Fit For A King - A Nine Piece Rolling Throne

by Jay Duckworth
Joe Tapper, Zenzi Williams, Michael Bradley Cohen and Leland Fowler in The Public’s Mobile Unit production of Henry V, directed by Robert O’Hara and running at The Public Theater, following a free tour to the five boroughs. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.
Joe Tapper, Zenzi Williams, Michael Bradley Cohen and Leland Fowler in The Public’s Mobile Unit production of Henry V, directed by Robert O’Hara and running at The Public Theater, following a free tour to the five boroughs. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.

Design drawings. Sometimes they come in late. There are times when not all the information is on the drawing. A designer has actually said ‘I wish you would have told me that you were going to build it the way I drew it.’ Then there are times you’re sitting in the production meeting and you find out a whole lot about the drawing you were given just the day before. Usually this doesn’t stress me but for Henry V the drawing for the throne had an exploded view as most drawings do. This wasn’t just for details sake, it was because at the beginning of the play, during the first monologue, the nine-member cast has to take one part each and build Henry’s throne onstage. So, challenge one—the cast has to put a chair together and it has to be in nine pieces. Challenge two—during the production meeting I find out that the chair has to be pushed over carpet and so will need casters. Challenge number three—the director also wants an actor to stand on the throne and be pushed around the stage, on the carpet. So again, I see all our challenges; I see our limited budget; and I have to complete this in two weeks.

Getting a Hand on Gloves

by Angelique Powers

Not all gloves are created equal. 
When deciding between latex, nitrile, and vinyl gloves, it can be confusing trying to determine which type of glove is the ideal choice, as they have different attributes. Perhaps your shop only stocks one type of glove, and you didn’t really know there were a few options out there. Chances are, your glove game has some serious problems, and you should read this article closely to educate yourself about your safety on the job.

It's in the Bag

by Lisa Mulcahy

Sewing Good Work from Old Drops 

It's in the Bag

Jennifer Kahn, an accomplished stage manager whose credits include the 2015 Broadway revival of Spring Awakening and has worked at regional companies, including Old Globe, Williamstown Theatre Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, and Paper Mill Playhouse, is a woman on a mission. In July 2017, Kahn launched SCENERY, an eco-conscious company that makes zippered bags from retired theater backdrops. Not only have SCENERY’s unique products become big sellers, a portion of proceeds from each bag goes to support the work of the Theatre Development Fund’s (TDF) Intro to Theatre Program, which provides middle and high school students with a meaningful introduction to live theater. SCENERY brings together Kahn’s own mindfulness of the importance of repurposing and reusing materials with her determination to help children discover the magic of theater, as the mother of a young son herself. 

Reflections on the First USITT Props Lab

by Jay Duckworth

started out as an actor, but I fell in love with props." "Thank you for the Props Lab, this is my first time at USITT, we’re from Canada..." "The fountain pen has a straw filled with blood in it, so you put it on his face and squeeze; it looks like you stabbed his face." "This material is from Worbla." It was like a constant buzz. "I’m a student;" "I’m a graduate;" "I use this for armor in cosplay;" "Is that an Nerf gun made into a cannon?;" "Where do you get these?;" "You can get that cheaper at this site." It was filled with energy and ideas. And then there were all the ah ha moments where presenters let the guests put two and two together and you could see the flash of excitement race across their faces. I’m talking about the first ever Props Lab at the 2018 USITT Conference and Stage Expo.

Renovated to Rave Reviews

by Stage Directions
Interior of The Cincinnati Music Hall
Interior of The Cincinnati Music Hall

The Cincinnati Music Hall, which opened in 1878, is filled with Victorian Gothic grandeur as designed by architect Samuel Hannaford and is on the National Register of Historic Places. A multi-use performing arts center, Music Hall is home to Cincinnati’s symphony orchestra, pops orchestra, ballet, and the May Festival Chorus. It is also home to Cincinnati Opera, one of the oldest and most highly regarded opera companies in U.S., who will celebrate their 98th season this summer returning to the newly renovated Music Hall. When the city launched the $143 million renovation in 2016 it had a caveat: the renovation must be completed in just 16 months. Teamwork and custom solutions brought the project in on time and on budget when it reopened in Oct. 2017.