Q2Q Comic #210 Written & Drawn by Steve Younkins
Q2Q Comic #210 Written & Drawn by Steve Younkins

The Right Material for the Job... Unless you are a Prop Builder

Michelle A. Bisbee

Props people are the MacGyvers of the theater and movie industry. Hopefully many, if not all of you, have seen the amazing Q2Q Comics #210 The Hardware Store. What makes this one so painfully funny is how truthful it is. I know I am preaching to the choir when I say this, though there are many items that can be easily purchased, it is how we use these items and thus how they need to be constructed that differs from the ordinary person… that and an individual’s budget for a single item compared to that same dollar amount for an entire show as Jay Duckworth recently discussed in the Answer Box article Order Up! A Working Ziosk Prop in the August issue of Stage Directions.

To quote poet Arthur O’Shaughnessy: We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams. Our number one weapon in our arsenal is our imagination. We look at things in a different way—we look at elements, overall shape, texture, and potential. In class, whether teaching model making or props, I ask students to push and surpass the limits of their imagination. 

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Don't Suffer for Your Art

Michael Eddy

Welcome to the September issue of Stage Directions. This month we continue to have interesting and informative conversations with theater artists in all realms of production. I want to thank all of the designers, SMs/PMs, technicians, stagehands, craftspeople, manufacturers, and shops that continually take time to share their experience, knowledge, and advice with Stage Directions and our readers. To me, this is what being part of the theater community is all about; sharing ideas, learning techniques, discovering resources, and spreading the word to our fellow theater-creators. I am particularly pleased that at Stage Directions we make a concerted effort to cover all the roles involved in the production aspect of theater. If it is seen, sat on, picked up, flown, worn, heard, lit, painted, taped, miked, or any of the millions of details that create a single production we want to hear about and cover the talented people behind it. Please be sure to let me know if there is a solution, resource, or a fellow colleague that you think SD should know about to consider for coverage.

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Moving Altercations - Rick Sordelet and Paul Rubin take teamwork to another level

Michael Eddy

Fighting and flying are two theatrical disciplines that require expertise to accomplish on a stage in a safe manner; and to effectively serve the narrative of any piece. While impactful individually, when fighting and flying are combined they can bring a whole wonderful dimension to a range of productions. Fight director Rick Sordelet and aerial/flying choreographer Paul Rubin, arguably two of the best in the industry, have partnered often in their careers to take fighting and flying to new heights in creating wonderfully evocative sequences. 

Sordelet and Rubin first teamed up to combine their skill sets for Dance of the Vampires. They have worked together on a number of productions over the years creating memorable mid-air altercations. Recently SD was able to catch up with both of them, unarmed and on the deck, for a conversation on this topic. 

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Del Hughes Lifetime Achievement Awards

Stage Directions

On Monday, September 17, 2018, the Stage Managers’ Association (SMA) will present its annual Del Hughes Lifetime Achievement in the Art of Stage Management Awards to three stage managers from the worlds of Broadway, regional theatre, and dance: Roy Harris, Lyle Raper, and Maxine Glorsky. In addition to the three Lifetime Achievement Awards, the SMA will recognize Peter Sargent of Webster University with a special award for Achievement in Stage Management Education for his work as an educator. 

Considered the crowning achievement in a stage manager’s career, the Del Hughes Award is awarded to those who represent the finest qualities of stage management: patience, diplomacy, organization, and a sense of humor. The awards were named for Del Hughes, who had an illustrious career as a Broadway and television stage manager as well as a TV director from 1933 to the 1970’s. 

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Writing The Production Manager's Toolkit

Cary Gillett and Jay Sheehan

"If you think you have nothing to lose then the risk will always be worth it.  If you want something, ask for it.  All they can say is no. This type of mindset is entirely responsible for how The Production Manager’s Toolkit became a reality." - Cary Gillett & Jay Sheehan

[In the September 2018 SD issue Cary Gillett and Jay Sheehan wrote a wonderful piece about Taking Chances for their Production Manager's Corner column. In it they noted that the common denominator that gave them the chance to take risks and dream endlessly was the understanding that they had nothing to lose. This thinking is what ultimately led to them writing the insightful and invaluable The Production Manager's Toolkit, a wonderful resource for students and mid-career professionals. Here they tell us how the book was the result of taking a chance. -Ed.Note]

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Designer and Educator Michael Yeargan
Designer and Educator Michael Yeargan

A Conversation with Designer & Educator Michael Yeargan

Howard Sherman

From his days as an elementary school student in Texas enraptured by opera to his Tony Award-wining scenic designs for The Light in the Piazza and South Pacific, Michael Yeargan has been creating worlds for audiences on stages across the U.S. and in Europe. Throughout that time, he has also been teaching generations of set designers as a member of the faculty, and now co-chair of the design department, at the Yale School of Drama. In a wide-ranging interview with Stage Directions' contributing editor Howard Sherman, Yeargan spoke of his start building shadow box sets while still a child to the intricacies of his celebrated designs; Stage Directions will be sharing several portions of that conversation in coming months, both in print and online. In this excerpt, [which has been edited and condensed for space] Yeargan traces the line from his opera work to his series of collaborations with Bartlett Sher in New York’s Vivian Beaumont Theater, which in addition to his Tony winning shows, includes The King and I and My Fair Lady.

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Gateway Playhouse's Set for Beauty and The Beast
Gateway Playhouse's Set for Beauty and The Beast

Ready, SET, Rent!

Lisa Mulcahy

The Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, NY has a long, rich history of producing artistically and technically excellent theater. Dating back to 1950, it all started when Harry C. Pomeran bought a 70-acre farm in Bellport, NY to open a hotel in 1941. His children subsequently started to entertain the hotel’s guests by performing skits, music and puppet shows. Due to popular demand, in 1950, the Pomerans used their barn to stage a production of The Taming Of The Shrew; local audiences flocked to the production, and the playhouse was officially open for business. Over the decades The Gateway grew into a well-respected non-profit regional theater and today, the Gateway Playhouse and its acting school form the core of the Performing Arts Center of Suffolk County in Bellport, NY. 

In addition to its peerless reputation for producing great shows, The Gateway Playhouse is now also known for offering high-quality, complete sets for rental to theaters all across the continental US. At Stage Directions, we thought we would delve further into how your theater can utilize the Gateway’s set inventory for your space, and learn more details about the features and advantages these set packages provide. 

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Taking Chances

Cary Gillett & Jay Sheehan

Both of us love the thought of making art. Be it theater, special events, opera, or dance, the fact that we can both make a living doing a job that helps create art is a blessing. So, what binds the two of us, and makes us so similar in our successes and our failures? 

Both of us are risk takers. There is no doubt that we have taken chances and not been successful. We have made mistakes, some corrected in time with no harm, no foul. Other times our errors may have cost us resources due to our lack of attention to one matter over the other during the production process. The fact is, we have taken chances all our lives, and continue to take chances now, even at this point of our careers. The second factor that binds us is that we both come at a risk with the approach of ‘It never hurts to ask; all they can say is no.’ 

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Q2Q Comic #438 Written & Drawn by Steve Younkins
Q2Q Comic #438 Written & Drawn by Steve Younkins

Let's Talk

Jay Duckworth

…and the Irishman asked, “Are you Dunn?” The guy in the outhouse said, “Yes.” The Irishman replied, “Good! Write your mother!”

Early in the process, I love to sneak a casual joke in with my director, especially if we have never worked together before. Something short and funny. I then ask them for their favorite joke. We laugh, we bond; good times. But to me it’s not the joke that matters, what I’m doing is seeing how well they can tell a story. Is there a clear foundation, middle, and twist at the end? Do they stumble for the words? Is all the information clear? All those things matter to me, so I can have an idea of what my team and I can prepare for over the next few weeks. 

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Pickett during flying rehearsal of Trey Mcintyre’s Peter Pan Ballet in Brisbane, Australia.
Pickett during flying rehearsal of Trey Mcintyre’s Peter Pan Ballet in Brisbane, Australia.

It is Always Tech Week for Flying Director Johnny O. Pickett

Michael Eddy

Johnny O. Pickett is a senior flying director with Flying by Foy, where he’s worked since 1999 becoming a full-time flying director in 2003. Prior to Foy, Pickett worked as a carpenter on Siegfried and Roy, coming from years teaching technical theater and working professionally at theaters across the U.S. He has an MFA in design and technology from UNC Greensboro and a BA in theater from East Tennessee State University. When you think flying, certainly Peter Pan comes to mind, and indeed to date, Pickett has done 127 different productions of Peter Pan, but there is no shortage of shows in which actors take flight. Pickett’s overseen flying in productions at numerous regional and university theaters across the U.S. as well as creating flying effects for Monty Python’s Spamalot on Broadway; Wicked in Tokyo; Babes in Toyland and Sha-Kon-O-Hey! for Dollywood theme park.

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