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  • A Pain-Free Black Eye (And Bruise)

    Dana Nye | Answer Box | June 1, 2009 The final bruise. Makeup can supply an easy special effect within anyone’s grasp. We asked Dana Nye of the Ben Nye Makeup to walk us through the steps to making a quick black eye, and he went right to work on his model Peter Wilks. Read More...
  • Slaying the Problem of the Dragon

    Greg Fiebig | Answer Box | May 1, 2009 “Charlie” arrives on stage, killed by the Queen’s attendants.A flying dragon gets his moment of fame in The Magic Flute When Mozart penned The Magic Flute, his imagination  ran as wild as his pen. Among a host of interesting  fairy tale characters, Mozart introduces a flying  dragon, whose purpose is to terrorize the hearts of the cast  and audience. Within five minutes, however, the dragon  swoops in, is killed, and then carted offstage to await the next  performance. Read More...
  • A Delicate Staircase

    Eric Gebhard | Answer Box | April 1, 2009 Raye Birk (Tobias) and Candy Buckley (Claire) in the Guthrie production of Edward Albee’s A Delicate BalanceEngineering meets art for a freestanding staircase in the Guthrie’s production of A Delicate Balance Engineering for the stage always has its challenges and the staircase for A Delicate Balance is no exception. The task set before our technical team was to construct a helical staircase. To further complicate the challenge, we were required to leave most of the staircase unsupported to the stage floor. This was to allow for the main dining table of the lavish upper class residence and became an actor entrance to and from other parts of the home.   Read More...
  • Low-Tech, Cutting Edge

    Donn Mason | Answer Box | March 1, 2009The shop floor of Norman High’s production of The Pajama Game, Directed by Brenda Webb, and the Nancy O’Brian Center of the Performing Arts, Fall 2007How one performing arts center in Oklahoma dealt with the throwing knives in The Pajama Game The Nancy O’Brian Center for the Performing Arts serves the Norman Oklahoma Public School system as the central performance venue for the district. Each fall the two high schools in the district individually stage a musical and we at the Center help guide the directors and students in producing their shows. Read More...
  • Buckets Of Blood

    Bryan Reesman | Answer Box | February 1, 2009 Matthew McGloin, John Lescault and a Herculean clean-upSignature Theatre’s production of The Lieutenant of Inishmore demanded a nightly gargantuan cleanupWatching a gory movie is one thing, but a blood-soaked play is another. Many in the Virginian audiences who saw the Signature Theatre production of the terrorist black comedy The Lieutenant of Inishmore last fall got the shock of their lives when they witnessed a second act strewn with hacked up bodies and blood oozing everywhere. Scenic designer Dan Conway says it was “like Quentin Tarantino did a stage show.” Read More...
  • Thinking Outside the [Sand] Box

    Thomas H. Freeman | Answer Box | January 12, 2009 The set of Militant Language: A Play with Sand used granulated cork to simulate sand.Know Theatre uses humble cork for a magical realism effect. When Know Theatre chose to produce Militant Language: A Play with Sand by Sean Christopher Lewis, they knew that some inventive thinking was called for. The play is set in an unnamed village in Iraq, where servicemen are guarding a construction site in an unnamed village. Just before the play’s action starts a murder takes place, and in response, sand starts falling from the sky, following the characters PFC Goop and PFC Beed. It’s a literal event in the action of the play—characters refer to the oddness of the sand, at one point one even sticks their hand in the stream—but it’s also a metaphorical touch, as the purpose of the sand is never explained, only hinted at, perhaps as trying to “cover something up.” It was up to Know Theatre’s Set and Lighting Designer Andrew Hungerford to physicalize the magical.   Read More...
  • Collecting for Crows

    Kelly D. Robertson | Answer Box | December 1, 2008Cast members of Mildred Umbrella's production of A Murder of CrowsA designer goes low-tech to costume A Murder of Crows. When I began working with an avant-garde theatre company, Mildred’s Umbrella, I knew that I was in for a bumpy ride. Small budgets and big ideas often bring the best out in designers and technicians. When we began working on A Murder of Crows by Mac Wellman, I felt the familiar thrill up the spine that you get when approaching a big production with few resources — whether it is fear or anticipation, I’m never quite sure. Read More...
  • Design That Carries Water

    Stephen J. Larson | Answer Box | November 6, 2008The finished mill wheel on stage during a Theatre in the Park production of Briarpatch..Making a moving grist mill water wheel for Theatre In The Park Briarpatch is a family musical brainchild of Theatre In The Park’s founder and Executive Director Ira David Wood III. Based on the wonderful stories of Joel Chandler Harris, the show features Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Bear, Brer Turtle and all the critters from the forest in a high-energy musical with everything from Dixieland Jazz to rousing gospel singing. Read More...
  • Floating Canopies

    L. Jean Burch | Answer Box | September 8, 2008A moment from the University of Missouri - Kansas City's original production, The Circus ShowA college circus approaches rigging with magnets. The Circus Show was created through the University of Missouri - Kansas City Theatre of N.O.W. (New Original Works) program and was scriptless at the start of the rehearsal period. The process was one of discovery and exploration, and combined theatrical production with circus elements. The show included several truss units, a trapeze, a bag that dumped balls on cue, and a canopy that was rigged to fall and needed to be reinstalled by the cast during the course of a show. Read More...
  • Girding for War

    Thomas H. Freeman | Answer Box | August 1, 2008Die Soldaten was written to be performed in a non-proscenium space to envelope the crowd and literally move them through the piece.Building a 20th Century opera in a 19th century armory presented some challenges for riggers. Lincoln Center recently presented the American premiere of RuhrTriennale’s production of the seminal opera, Die Soldaten, by German expressionist composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann. The production was the first to be presented as the composer originally presented it — in a non-proscenium space. Read More...
  • Illuminated Manuscript

    Nick Van Houten | Answer Box | June 2, 2008The pages of the "Bible"Concealed Wireless LED technology for a SoCal production of Joseph... For the Glendale Centre Theatre’s spring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, I was asked to design an elegant glowing book for the show’s epilogue. The director wanted a very God-like “shaft” of light to come from the book; however, limitations by battery and illumination sources were obvious. Read More...
  • Let Down Your Swing

    Thomas H. Freeman | Answer Box | May 1, 2008For a revisionist take on the tale of Rapunzel, Kneehigh Theatre staged a swing, not a tower. Blame Into the Woods, or Disney backlash, but fairy tales are rarely given the earnest, straight-ahead treatment on stage anymore — and Kneehigh Theatre’s production of Rapunzel at The New Victory Theater in New York is no different. Playwright Annie Siddons and Director Emma Rice reached back to the older texts of Rapunzel that lie behind the Grimm Brothers’ famous version to find a more capable heroine and a little jolt of “va va voom.” As part of the staging for this nontraditional take, their Rapunzel has long, black dreadlocks and the step-mother isn’t so much a witch as just incredibly overprotective. Read More...
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