5 Guys 2 Coasts

by Ross Jackson
The Five Guys Named Moe
The Five Guys Named Moe

ASM Ross Jackson reflects on taking Five Guys Named Moe to the National Black Theatre Festival

Moving a production across the country is an exciting opportunity at any time and while it does come with its challenges, for me as a stage manager, there’s nothing short of the incomparable feeling of satisfaction and success that comes with lifting a show out of a theater on one side of the country and remounting it on the other. That was the extraordinary experience that I got to have this summer as I assisted in moving Ebony Repertory Theatre’s highly praised Five Guys Named Moe from their Los Angeles home at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center to the Stevens Center in Winston-Salem, NC to be presented for the National Black Theatre Festival.

A Maple Leaf In The Big Apple

by Howard Sherman
in Feature
Soulpepper's Oliver Dennis and Gregory Prest in Of Human Bondage
Soulpepper's Oliver Dennis and Gregory Prest in Of Human Bondage

Canada’s Soulpepper Theatre Company Summers in NYC

"The more that we’ve been here every day, the more the Canadian flag is important to me as a Canadian, but is less important to the theatergoers. I think that’s interesting, in a good way. It’s subtle, but actually it’s about excellence.”

Those are the words of Albert Schultz, artistic director of Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company, late into the second week of the company’s four-week residency at New York’s Signature Theatre Company. Taking all three of Signature’s performance spaces for July, in addition to using the lobby stage for post-show cabarets, as well the lobby itself as a daytime office, Soulpepper brought dozens of artists, technicians, and administrators, as well as seven trucks with costumes, props, musical instruments and scenery, to New York to introduce the company’s work to America in its 20th season, as well as to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada.

Art with a (Re)Purpose

by Lisa Mulchay

A Look at the Work of Sloan Award Winner, Harriet Taub from Materials for the Arts

Materials for the Arts (MFTA), a government arts agency based in Long Island City, NY, rounds up unwanted or unneeded materials from businesses, groups, or individuals. They distribute these items to nonprofit theaters, arts, and educational programs throughout New York City’s five boroughs—for free, no less. 

MFTA is based in a 35,000-square-foot warehouse, and each year a staff of 17, with the help of 1,000 volunteers, collect and redistributes almost two million pounds of materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Fabric, art supplies, office furniture, lumber, glue, and thread are all put to creative use as props, sets and costumes. Theater artisans, along with arts educators from over 4,000 non-profits get to shop for materials at MFTA. 

Fast and Furious

by Bryan Reesman
The cast of Freedom Riders: The Civil Rights Musical
The cast of Freedom Riders: The Civil Rights Musical

The annual New York Musical Festival (NYMF) in Manhattan delivers an array of quirky, eclectic entries that both play into and upend the genre’s conventions. The festival’s recent 14th season included a month of performances, workshops, concerts, and readings. NYMF has developed an efficient system to foster talented new writers, along with their exuberant casts and dedicated crews every year. They are paired with veteran directors and designers, tasked with the challenge of working under the festival’s extremely tight schedules. At NYMF, bigger or bolder is not better if it eats up valuable production time. “You need that wild energy, but it has got to be contained systematically,” says NYMF executive director Dan Markley, who just finished his fourth season with the festival.

From Stigma to Spotlight

by Adrienne Gurman

This Is My Brave gives voice to living with mental illness

As theatergoers take their seats for This Is My Brave, it is unlikely they’re prepared for the emotionally-charged performances they are about to witness. For the next two hours, real people, not actors, appear on stage and present a mix of poetry, music and essay, to tell heroic tales of living with a mental illness.

This Is My Brave, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose mission is to end the stigma of mental illness through live theater. Every story places an emphasis on living a full life despite psychological disorders. Through sharing stories of pain and recovery, each show provides a sense of community and hope and encourages others to share their own personal narrative. 

Gear Notes: The Floorpocket from Creative Conners

by Stu Cox
Installing the The Floorpocket from Creative Conners
Installing the The Floorpocket from Creative Conners

Lift Rises to Customers’ Expectations

Creative Conners, one of the go-to names in regional theater stage automation has a no-fuss, no-muss performer and scenery lift, the Floorpocket, which has been well-received since its introduction at LDI 2016. Creative Conners’ goal was a safe stock lift that would answer their customers’ desire for an elevator with simple plug and play set-up, no hydraulics fluid, and a machine that would play nicely with Conners’ Spikemark software. The Floorpocket can be used as a performer or scenery lift, hidden in a trap room below the stage, or incorporated into scenery to be used as an elevator between scenic levels.

I Ain’t Got No Body

by Jay Duckworth
The finished dead body prop for Cymbeline at The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park
The finished dead body prop for Cymbeline at The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park

Need a dead body for a show?  Get an intern and Saran Wrap.

Me: What happened to King Pentheus?
Assistant: We recycled his body parts for the feast scene in The Tempest last year. 
Me: Okay, what about the dead bodies we dragged out in Measure for Measure?
Assistant: Water damage and mold; outdoor theater does that.
Me: I’d kill for a good dead body right now! 
Assistant: Don’t look at me like that. 
Me: Grab the interns and some packing tape; I’ll meet you in the shop.

Some things work on stage and some just don’t so you have to know when to fight your fights and when to give in. The hardest part is knowing the middle way. Even if you know it may not be right and you have tried it hundreds of times before sometime you need to let the director see for themselves. 

Projecting the Reflected Soul

by Michael Eddy

San Francisco Opera’s Mirror Solution for Don Giovanni

San Francisco Opera’s General Director Matthew Shivlock and Stage Director Jacopo Spirei envisioned a new concept for the recent re-mount of SFO’s 2011 Don Giovanni. They wanted to incorporate projections into an array of large mirrors that reflected the true quality of the characters’ souls. To help them realize this, they brought in stage designer and conceptual artist, Tommi Brem who, though no stranger to opera work was making his SFO debut. Brem worked closely with the SFO technical team including Associate Technical Director, Ryan O’Steen. Stage Directions asked both Brem and O’Steen about this complex projection solution.

SFO ATD Ryan OSteen talks projection, mirrors & Don Giovanni

by Michael Eddy

Details on San Francisco Opera’s Projection Solution

Designer Tommi Brem, said ‘To be honest, coming up with the concept was a lot easier than sorting out the technicalities. And to that I would say, ‘Yes. Yes, it was.’

We had 20 mirrors from the 2011 production of Don Giovanni. They were all six-feet wide by 18-feet tall and were made of a two-way mirrored acrylic that had a tint on both the front and back. We were front projecting on seven of 13 of the mirrors and rear projecting on the other seven mirrors.

Soar Like an Eagle

by Michael Eddy

Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ production of Titus takes flight

For the production of Mozart’s Titus at Opera Theatre of St. Louis (OTSL), the scenic designer, Leslie Travers, created a giant eagle that could fly in and out as well as articulate. When we say large, the wing span was approximately 58-feet and approximately 12-feet tall; collectively weighing in at 1,700lbs—it took up most of the stage when it flew in. The eagle was built in five different pieces—two wings, two legs with claws extended, and a giant head. In consultation with the creative team, director of production, Steve Ryan, and technical director Hans Fredrickson, it was decided to employ automation to make the articulation and stage mechanics support the story of the opera.