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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Maxine Glorsky: A Life in Stage Management

Lisa Mulcahy

When it comes to creative and technical accomplishments, Maxine Glorsky has an impressive list to reflect back upon. Glorsky has been a highly regarded dance stage manager for many companies for decades. Her seminal work includes SM duties for Lar Lubovitch since 1970, as well as the Juilliard Dance Repertory since 1998. Her list of credits include the Martha Graham Dance Company, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Maria Benitez Spanish Dance Company, and numerous other dance companies extending to modern, ballet, and ethnic disciplines. She has also worked in opera with the Dallas Civic Opera, among other companies. Early in her career, Glorsky also worked in lighting design, and assisted masters such as Jean Rosenthal as well as Jules Fisher. Her Broadway stage production credits include the 1973 production of Seesaw, as assistant to Fisher, as well as assisting Rosenthal on both 1967’s Illya Darling and 1966’s The Apple Tree

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OISTAT Celebrates 50 Years

Richard Bryant

OISTAT (International Organization of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians) recently returned to Cardiff, Wales in 2018 to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The host venue, The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD), became the meeting place for this multinational event. Designer and professor Sean Crowley of the RWCMD, who was assisted by the students and staff of the school, and OISTAT executive director Wan-Jung Wei, along with her staff, helped to bring together a smooth running and well-organized series of symposiums, meetings, and workshops. 

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Inside the Vault with Bag&Baggage TD/LD Jim Ricks White

Michael Eddy

With over 30 years working in theater, Jim Ricks-White, had been teaching stagecraft at Portland Community College, Sylvania and the resident lighting designer for Hillsboro, OR-based Bag&Baggage Productions, when the company asked him to come on full time as technical director and facilities manager. The request followed the company opening its new space—The Vault—a repurposed former bank building. In theater, Ricks-White has worked as a stage manager, TD, LD, set designer, properties artisan, and pyrotechnician and toured for many years as a technician for Showco and Vari-Lite. He’s worked in venues as small as a 99-seat black box and as large as the Olympic Stadium for the 2012 London Olympics.

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Adaptive Design

Michael Eddy

Scenic Designer Edward Pierce talks design supervision, and 70 scene changes
Edward Pierce has worked for over 20 years on theater and entertainment projects around the globe including the Broadway scenic designs for Holler If Ya Hear Me, Amazing Grace, and The Other Place (the last two with co-designer Eugene Lee); lighting design for the Broadway revival of A Streetcar Named Desire; and he was associate scenic designer on both Bright Star and the Tony Award-winning scenic design for the hit musical Wicked. 

Edward PierceThis year, Pierce shared a Tony nomination with scenic designer Ian MacNeil, for the recent Broadway revival of Angels in America that came over from London’s National Theatre. For this production, Pierce was credited with design adaptation for making the changes necessary for the move from London to Broadway. Pierce heads up edwardpierce studio, who with designers Jen Price-Fick and Stephan Devan, have carved out a niche as design supervisors for Broadway productions that are going to tour or sit-down for a long run, both nationally and around the world.

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Shadow Work

Randi Minetor

Thom Weaver's Lighting Plays a Key Role in Macbeth

Is there a “normal” way to interpret Shakespeare in twenty-first century theater? The days of recreating Elizabethan England seem to be behind us as today’s directors place their productions anywhere they like, and use the Bard’s intricate language and story lines to create a new take on centuries-old material. In recent memory, we’ve seen an all-female production of Twelfth Night set in the roaring 1920s, A Midsummer Night’s Dream on post-apocalyptic Earth, and The Taming of the Shrew as part of a traveling circus… and that’s just in theaters around upstate New York.     

So, when Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) approached its own Macbeth earlier this year, no one was surprised to learn that this production would not take a traditional approach. Instead, the Scottish play would become a supernatural horror thriller, complete with magical illusions created by one of the top people in the illusion business. Management turned to a directing team that had mounted a mystical interpretation of The Tempest in 2015, Helen Hayes Award-winning director Aaron Posner, and Teller—the silent half of Penn and Teller, the world-famous illusionist team. 

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EMBRACE™ Microphones, from Point Source Audio, used in the student-led productions at Belmont University
EMBRACE™ Microphones, from Point Source Audio, used in the student-led productions at Belmont University

The Point Source Audio Sounding Board: The Production Strategy for Saving Face at Belmont University

Point Source Audio Sounding Board

The student-led orientation of Belmont University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts program in Nashville, TN is the ideal environment for students to learn the trade of theater production and acting. But the benefits of this hands-on educational approach were coming at an increasingly higher cost for the school, as students were regularly rendering the school’s lav mics unusable by hastily removing the taped-on mics after performances and rehearsals. The result was student actors uncomfortable with taped mics to the face, and a rash of defective mics and cables. The problem was ultimately solved by the school upgrading from the low-tech manner of taping mics to the face, to the highly concealable and stable EMBRACE™ earmount microphones by Point Source Audio.

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PSA lavaliers offered the right vocal reinforcement through all the blood, sweat and tears of Sweeney Todd for San Francisco Opera.
PSA lavaliers offered the right vocal reinforcement through all the blood, sweat and tears of Sweeney Todd for San Francisco Opera.

The Point Source Audio Sounding Board: Mic'ing Messy Halloween & Horror Performances

Numerous untold buckets of faux blood and guts will be spilled on stages across the country. The shock and awe of macabre special effects are all fun and games—until you kill an expensive microphone with a splash of Kensington Gore.

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The Point Source Audio Sounding Board Blog: Microphone Survival in a Monsoon (Wedding)

Whether you’re producing an outdoor performance in inclement weather or a stage show that involves rain showers, you’ll need to consider how waterproof your mics are. We covered waterproof microphones and taking care of mics after they get wet in our Halloween mic gore-proofing post. Here we are going to take a look at how sound designers and audio crew set up Point Source Audio microphones in the wet and wild performance of Monsoon Wedding.

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