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  • Lightning and Lighting Bring Monster to Life

    Thomas H. Freeman | Answer Box | March 21, 2008 Working on big shows can mean big changes In the current Broadway production of Young Frankenstein, Peter Kaczorowski spares no effect in his lighting design when the monster is shocked to life by a giant bolt of lightning. Dramatic flashes of lightning also blaze onstage during Young Frankenstein’s opening scene. All these visuals are achieved by a creative combination of projection, conventional and moving lights — but the projection demanded some tweaking of the lights.  Read More...
  • Destroying One Ring – Night After Night

    Monica-Marie Coakley | Answer Box | February 1, 2008One props department deals with melting a wedding ring every night over the run of a show. Murderer, by Anthony Shaffer, is a tough play for any props master. For the first 30 minutes of the play, we watch a man kill and dismember a woman in his English house without any dialogue. There are multiple challenges and special effects that need to be solved in order to stage the opening sequence. Producing the show in an intimate three-quarter space, as we did at the Barter Theatre in the fall of 2006, increases the level of detail necessary for the effects.   Read More...
  • On a Wing and a Router

    Thomas H. Freeman | Answer Box | January 4, 2008Model Spitfires take flight, crash and burn onstage. Opera North, in Leeds, England, had something special in mind for its production of Richard Keiser’s The Fortunes of King Croesus — eight Spitfire airplanes. Scale models with a wingspan of 25.6 inches (650 mm), each of the Spitfires also needed to accommodate a small function and be constructed from a robust material that could be reengineered to add future functions. They also needed to be mounted on poles, allowing them to be “flown” on stage by performers. Additionally, three needed mini smoke machines to be mounted in their engine compartments, two needed to have snapping wings and one a breaking tail. Two also had to catch fire during the battle. And, oh yeah, the designer wanted them in gold. Read More...
  • Instant Subtitles in Tuscany

    Thomas H. Freeman | Answer Box | December 3, 2007The Florence International Theatre Company (FITC) was created to marry the techniques of American and Italian theatre traditions. Creating works of art, primarily in English, and sharing this work with the Tuscan community, FITC explores the differences of world cultures as they come together in a theatrical context and plans to develop projects and productions that bridge cultures and language, while connecting the community it serves. Read More...
  • True Love Gets All Wet

    Thomas H. Freeman | Answer Box | November 5, 2007Love, death, poetry and a pool of water contend with wireless mics in Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Moisture of any type can be the kiss of death to electronic equipment. Unfortunately, the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park summer production of Romeo and Juliet in New York’s Central Park included a pool that, while only a few inches deep, was 30 feet in diameter. Tom Clark, of New York’s Acme Sound Partners LLC, whose firm provides theatrical sound design services for plays and musicals, was tasked with finding a way to keep the actors’ wireless gear working while being submerged in this pool. Read More...
  • It Came from the Scene Shop

    David C. Glowacki | Answer Box | October 1, 2007A high school production of Little Shop of Horrors builds a set strong enough to withstand aliens and dancing students. One challenge I faced preparing for a recent production of Little Shop of Horrors at Hawken Upper School, near Cleveland, Ohio, was the need to create fire escapes for the “Skid Row” scenes. Because our scene shop is not configured for metalworking, the fire escapes needed to be constructed entirely of wood. As the scenic designer, I wanted to reproduce traditional-looking wrought-iron fire escapes. As the technical director, I was concerned with the need to create structures that could withstand the stress of multiple cast members climbing and dancing on them. Read More...
  • Rising Star Turns the Moon Red

    Thomas H. Freeman | Answer Box | August 31, 2007 Student solves tricky puzzle for RADA’s Salome Michael Nabarro is currently a student in the Specialist Lighting Design course at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and due to graduate in December 2007. He has worked on productions ranging from Shakespeare to Gilbert & Sullivan, Leonard Bernstein and even Barry Manilow, and has been designing lighting for productions since the mid-1990s when he was at University College School in London. He also served as manager and licensee at the Amateur Drama Club Theatre while at Cambridge University.  Read More...
  • A Tempestuous Mask

    Stuart T. Wagner | Answer Box | August 7, 2007Through the use of advanced latex prosthetics, three students at East Carolina University — senior drama major J. T. Pitt, junior Jamie Makely and senior Chris Eubanks — were instrumental in morphing sophomore actor Wesley Curtis into a half-man, half-fish Caliban for a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. For each of the six scheduled shows, as well as for the three dress rehearsals, these students created an entire set of the five-part mask Curtis wore as Caliban. While the concept seemed simple enough in theory, this feat took several months of research and much trial-and-error on the part of the students involved. Read More...
  • Best Little Followspot Op in Texas

    Richard Cadena | Answer Box | June 6, 2007I’m a pretty good followspot operator but I’m not a very good mind reader. During a production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in Austin, Texas the stage manager was calling followspots in rapid-fire succession as the girls descended the matching grand stairways stage left and stage right at the top of the show. We had a second or two to locate our target on a very busy stage, pick her up, and fade up on cue. Read More...
  • Revisiting Tragedy

    Jason Reberski | Answer Box | May 1, 2007 How a lighting designer for a college production created a dramatic fog effect that didn’t steal focus. As both a theatrical design student and a freelance lighting designer, I’ve come across my fair share of difficult situations. The challenge posed in Deborah Brevoort’s play The Women of Lockerbie, at Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill., was no exception.  Read More...
  • Moving the Marfa Lights

    John Landon | Answer Box | April 2, 2007 The world premier production of Marfa Lights, by Octavio Solis, opened our brand new $32 million Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex on the West Texas A&M University campus in the Happy State Bank Studio Theatre. The director, Royal R. Brantley, desired a set for the production that reflected the wide-open, rugged environment of the West Texas landscape near Marfa, Texas. The plot revolves around college students and their fraternity activities. They experience real and strange activity during their overnight adventures. The light design by Brandon Mitchell led us in and out of reality with natural and supernatural lighting. The scenic design by James Kemmerling achieved the director’s vision with eight large overlapping platforms resembling the flat, arid land of that area, as well as two large vertical shapes to break the space depicting the geological elements of West Texas. Read More...
  • Walk the Plank

    Clare Floyd DeVries | Answer Box | February 6, 2007  How Shakespeare Dallas rectified its “bridge” problems   When Shakespeare Dallas expanded their season into the fall, they expanded territory, too. Their 2005 production of Twelfth Night started at their home amphitheatre in Samuel Grand Park, Dallas, then transferred to a fountain-filled park in Addison, Texas. Read More...
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