Making The Knight of Mirrors

by Jennifer Sheshko Wood
The Knight of Mirrors in the the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha.

Clamps, paint and Plexiglas fulfilled one costume designer’s dream for Man of La Mancha

In the Man of La Mancha, Don Quixote chases an adventure, only to be shown the truth of his madness when the Knight of Mirrors shatters his illusions. In a recent production by the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre, I acted as the crafts artisan for costume designer Misti Bradford and had the pleasure of crafting the mirrors for this character’s armor. The question arose of how to make him as reflective as possible, but without using actual mirrors. The metal armor had many curved surfaces and we wanted to utilize these curves to shape the embellishment. I researched different options and in discussion with Misti, we decided to create the effect with Plexiglas sprayed with a mirror finish. This would allow us to customize the fragmented look of her design, to do it on a budget, and maintain control over the finished look.

Art of the Sound Install

by Bryan Reesman
Masque Sound had to keep a system operational for services, even as they completely upgraded the sound for St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Programming, infrastructure and gear choice all play a part when designing a house system

Before a theatrical production and its sound designer can step into a venue and work on a show, the facility itself must be outfitted with the right equipment to ensure that it is well suited for all its clients’ needs. Sound installation is obviously more than just setting up an array of speakers, picking out good mics, and hooking up a solid console. It is a layered process that requires a good analysis of what the venue needs and what it will best be suited for.

Blackmagic Design Helps Theatres Capture the Magic

by Thomas H. Freeman
in Feature
Devon Armstrong, above, in a moment from Downtown Repertory Theater’s production of Romeo and Juliet.

LA’s Downtown Repertory Theater delivered 4K recordings of Romeo and Juliet before the curtain finished dropping

The Downtown Repertory Theater is made up of both long-time veterans of the stage and recent graduates of acting conservatories across the country. The troupe performs in site-specific locations in downtown Los Angeles and in Sierra Madre’s Memorial Park, all thanks to support from the City of Los Angeles, private firms and the public. The theatre was founded by Devon Armstrong, a graduate of the acting program at the State University of New York at Purchase. Before that he attended Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA), from which he graduated in 2006, and where he currently teaches. 

Conversing with Colleges

by Jacob Coakley
in Feature
An NYU Tisch School of the Arts student programs lights for a production.

Beginning a conversation is the best way for students to end up at the best school 

The process of researching and applying to colleges is fraught with anxiety as students (and their parents) wrestle an unfamiliar bureaucracy under high emotional stakes. It’s no wonder that students clamber to find any way to tilt the odds in their favor. This has to led to self-propagating myths about the college admissions process, which don’t serve students or their families. We spoke with a people in charge of admissions to find out what myths applicants can let go of, what bad habits they should avoid when applying to theatre programs, and what sort of mindset will help them find the best college program for them. 

Dallas Theater Center Lighting Team Lets Innovation Roll

by Michael S. Eddy
A paint roller was a key player in the lighting design for Bella: An American Tall Tale

The recent world premiere of Bella: An American Tall Tale, which opened at the end of September, featured a lighting design by Japhy Weideman. (You can read our full coverage of the design here.)  The show is currently playing at Dallas Theater Center’s Wyly Theatre and is scheduled to move to New York’s Playwrights Horizon, opening in May, 2017. Weideman’s lighting team included Associate Lighting Designer Alex Jainchill and Assistant Lighting Designer Laura Choate. The team worked closely with the lighting crew at DTC and had nothing but praise for them. “Meike Schmidt at DTC is among the best programmers that I have ever been assigned by a regional theatre,” comments Jainchill. “Nicole Iannaccone killed it as the Master Electrician / Production Electrician; she's an amazing person and an amazing PE. They were great at finding smart solutions to any challenge. One of those was their solution for a scrim which was rubbing the first electric. The crew at DTC came up with a really great solution—paint rollers on C-Clamps to keep the scrim from brushing the shutters. It was a beautiful solution created by a bunch of really smart people.” Video of the solution after the jump. 

Educational Honors

by Lisa Mulcahy
in Feature
The 2016 SD High School Theatre Honors winners!

Our annual citations recognize the best high school drama programs in the country

Blazing originality. A commitment to teaching the touchstones of both technical and creative skill. Imparting self-assurance into each student’s performance, both in class and onstage. These are the peerless qualities this year’s winners of Stage Directions High School Theatre Honors Program share, through the work of the dedicated instructors who guide their students through innovative dramatic training. We congratulate each of them on their success—now and in the future! 

Summer Haircut

by Randi Minetor
in Feature
On Judith Bowden’s skeletal set, Kyle Blair as Adolfo Pirelli and Benedict Campbell as Sweeney Todd enter into a fateful competition.

Sweeney Todd Receives Imaginative Retellings at Two Summer Venues

With the news that Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street will return to the West Village in New York City this winter after an 11-year absence, it’s time to take a fresh look at Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s crowning masterpiece.

The Evolving World of Fabrics and Soft Goods

by Kevin M. Mitchell
in Feature
Sew What?/Rent What? provided Decorative Mylar Rain Curtains for The Romp Show at CSU Long Beach.

Whether its cutting-edge projection, new weaving techniques—or even moving the fabric itself—designers and manufacturers are finding exciting new ways to use fabric 

The toolbox for soft goods continue to get bigger, and designers seem to never run out of ideas on how to adapt to new technology. It’s up to the suppliers to keep up, and they appear to be doing so.

The Show’s the Thing

by Jacob Coakley
Stage Directions editor Jacob Coakley

LDI is the best place to create flash for the flash

Las Vegas is home to approximately 2 million people, with approximately 800,000 visiting each week, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. (Think about that when you wonder why traffic on the Strip is backed up…) 

Touring with Stage Automation

by Stu Cox
in Feature
American Repertory Theatre used Creative Conners Spotline Hoists to fly projection screens for Notes from the Field, created by and starring Anna Deavere Smith.

Manufacturers weigh in on how innovation—and old-fashioned planning—make automation work on the road

Most of us have been to or worked on shows with stage automation. We’ve all seen it become more commonplace and more complicated—hoists, tracking platforms, revolving stages, synchronized curtains and wall reveals. We are all aware of the planning and build time that goes into these effects, and the time needed for programming, for making small mechanical tweaks, and ensuring it all works smoothly and safely with the rest of the show.