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  • In Amber

    Joe Tawil | Answer Box | September 1, 2011 Two different moments from a production of Hamlet by Organs of State at the Paradise Factory Theater, with lighting and scenic design by Natalie Robin. The white floor was lit with the same instruments in both shots, but thanks to amber shift with a lower voltage level, in the picture on the right the floor is much “warmer” in color. Demystifying the reasons behind Amber Shift Each year Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas runs a few weeks of classes for backstage enlightenment. Each week is focused on a different area of expertise, including rigging, drafting and modeling, audio, costuming, projection, lighting and more. One of their speakers this summer was Joe Tawil of GAM Products, who came to the Institute to give a presentation about light and color theory. At more than two hours, Tawil’s talk illuminated several aspects of lighting—including Amber Shift. Here’s an excerpt from that talk.   Read More...
  • A Thorny Ring

    Brad Berridge | Answer Box | August 1, 2011 Maxwell Caulfield and Lois Robbins, holding the challenging phone, in Cactus Flower. Blocking and scene changes demanded a creative solution to a ringing phone in Cactus Flower Being charged with designing sound for the Off-Broadway revival of Cactus Flower—a quirky, ‘60s comedy—seemed straightforward: sound FX and some music. It seemed like an opportunity to do a simple design and be on my way. As always, though, some interesting problems arose. The biggest technical challenge that my assistant, Emma Wilk, and I encountered was the prominence of a phone (a typical Ma Bell model from the ‘60s) that rang repeatedly through out the play. This phone was on a desk that went in and out of a set wall in very quick scene changes. It was also impossible to have any wires going to the desk (ruling out using a Tele-Q or wired speaker) thanks to its placement on set and essential actor blocking around it. The solution we arrived at (with the help of Masque Sound) was a small wireless speaker rig set up near the phone to give the illusion that the phone itself was ringing. Read More...
  • Spring Crop

    Gwydion Suilebhan | Answer Box | June 1, 2011 Class, sisters and worldviews come into conflict in Molly Smith Metzler’s Elemeno Pea. Speaking to the playwrights of the Humana Festival of New American Plays Each spring for the past 35 years the Actors Theatre of Louisville presents a bevy of original work in the Humana Festival of New American Plays. This year I was lucky enough to attend and speak to a few of the playwrights. Here are my conversations with: Molly Smith Metzler, author of Elemeno Pea; A. Rey Pamatmat, author of Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them; and Jordan Harrison, author of Maple and Vine. Read More...
  • Neo-Noir in Rio

    Thomas S. Freeman | Answer Box | May 2, 2011 A moment from Nelson Rodrigues’ The Asphalt Kiss, with lighting design by Traci Klainer Polimeni and color by Rosco 99. LD Traci Klainer Polimeni speaks to solutions for a production of The Asphalt Kiss As a partner in design firm Luce Group, lighting designer Traci Klainer Polimeni has worked with Manhattan Theatre Club (where she was nominated for a Lucille Lortel award for her work on Four) as well as other Off- (and Off-Off-) Broadway companies in New York and regional theatres across the country. She was nominated for a Drama Desk award for her work on a production of Brazilian playwright Nelson Rodrigues’ The Asphalt Kiss, as her lighting conjured a distinctively noirish vision of Rio de Janeiro in a black box space at 59E59 Theater in New York. Read More...
  • Pneumatics Make the Moon

    Rich Dionne | Answer Box | April 2, 2011 The finished platform in Purdue University’s 2011 production of Mary Zimmerman’s Arabian Nights, directed by Gordon McCall, with set design by Amanda Bearss, costume design by Jill Van Brussell, and lighting design by Krystle Smith. Here’s how Purdue Theatre made a moon platform for Arabian Nights Scenic Unit seeking Technical Director. Circular moving platform, 12’ diameter. Raked. Illuminated from inside. Must move quickly and easily, yet lock in place to support a large dancing cast solidly and safely. Just the kind of personal ad I like to answer! And, for Purdue’s recent production of Mary Zimmerman’s Arabian Nights I had the opportunity to do so. A project like this includes numerous technical design issues: engineering the raked, circular deck; making it mobile; illuminating it; and holding it in place. Read More...
  • Breaking the Line

    Rich Dionne | Answer Box | March 1, 2011 The production of Scapino! at Purdue University’s Nancy T. Hansen Theatre had two decks that broke the fire curtain line. It was directed by Gordon McCall with set design by Eric Luchen. Keeping your theatre up to code when your set breaks the fire curtain line requires a little more work… The Nancy T. Hansen Theatre at Purdue University is surprisingly intimate for a 300-seat proscenium theatre; no seat is more than 50 feet from the stage. However, because the forestage is some 15 feet in depth, it can sometimes feel that a set is very far away from the audience, however close audience members are to the stage. Consequently, set designers in the Hansen often design decks or rakes that extend out onto the forestage, breaking the line of the fire curtain. Read More...
  • Breaking Off Track

    Jacob Coakley | Answer Box | February 1, 2011 Icarus of Ohio, written by Rob Ackerman and directed by Fritz Ertl, premiered at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, Department of Drama in late 2008 in the Abe Burrows Theatre. Chris Jaehnig chats about learning inside and outside the theatre. Chris Jaehnig is a really great guy with a really intimidating title: Associate Professor and Director of the Production and Design Studio for the Undergraduate Program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. He’s also consulted for several Off-Off-Broadway theatres and was a freelance production manager in NYC and Brooklyn. He works hard to make sure his students—and anyone who’s a student of the art—has the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. To that end he stopped by the TheatreFace.com Chat Room to talk about what knowledge people need to succeed and the best ways to impart that knowledge to students. You can read a transcript of the whole chat online at: www.theatreface.com/chrisjaehnig Read More...
  • Blog Roll

    Jacob Coakley | Answer Box | January 1, 2011 The new TheatreFace.com blog team! Meet the new TheatreFace.com blog team! We’ve got a whole new crew on TheatreFace.com! TheatreFace will now feature five new bloggers. Keeping true to the mission of TheatreFace.com they’ll tackle topic relating to every aspect of making theatre, so there’s sure to be something for everyone. Swing on over to the site and check them out! Read More...
  • First Hint: Be Nice

    Jacob Coakley | Answer Box | December 2, 2010 Emory (Charlie Cromer, middle) does a dance routine with his chicken friend Linda (Sarah Coykendall) as the narrator (Cindy Im) looks on in MilkMilkLemonade, a warped tale of innocence lost at Impact Theatre. Melissa Hillman hits the basics of auditioning, including what you need to do before you even begin. Melissa Hillman, artistic director of Impact Theatre in Berkeley, Calif., joined us in the TheatreFace.com chat room to talk about auditioning. In addition to her A.D. work at Impact, Melissa has seen hundreds of actors in her time as an adjunct professor at Cal State University, East Bay, and as a teacher at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre School of Theatre. She had lots of good advice about choosing audition material, focusing before the audition, and comporting yourself during it. We’ve got some highlights below, but for the whole chat (including some very funny audition horror stories), head over to www.theatreface.com/melissahillman. Read More...
  • Theatre, Not Drama

    Jacob Coakley | Answer Box | November 2, 2010  The cast of Amadeus, featuring Fred Chappell, head of the MFA Directing Program, in the role of Amadeus as performed by The School of Theatre at Florida State in February, 2006. Cameron Jackson shares how to keep your cool as a stage manager. In addition to being the executive director and producing artistic director at the Theatre School at Florida State Cameron Jackson is involved in the Stage Management Mentor Program through USITT. That program gives 12 students from around the country the opportunity to manage the large events of the USITT conference. The students are also paired with a SM mentor from all corners of the field who works with students to manage the events and help with the transition to a professional career. Cameron stopped by the TheatreFace.com Chat Room to talk about that, as well as what it takes to keep going as an SM. Here's an excerpt from the chat. To read the whole thing head over to www.theatreface.com/cameronjackson.   Read More...
  • Howl for the Moon

    Nick Van Houten | Answer Box | October 1, 2010The moon hangs in the background during this moment from the Cal State, Fullerton production of Bat Boy: The Musical. A design team moves the moon for Bat Boy: The Musical While working as the lighting designer for the Spring production of Bat Boy: The Musical at Cal State University, Fullerton, Scenic Designer Brad Shelton approached me with the idea of incorporating an automated, flying moon as a key story-telling device throughout the show's many settings. It soon became obvious to the both of us that if we were going to take the effort to include a light on the automated rig to illuminate the moon, a digital projector would also do the job just as well, in addition to providing more artistic options. It also created an entirely new set of challenges. Read More...
  • Avoid Stalking

    Jacob Coakley | Answer Box | September 1, 2010Sound design is a tricky beast—part engineering (mic choice and placement), part composition (writing new music) and part console jockey (designing SFX on a computer and mixing), a good design draws on all parts of the brain. Luckily for Matt Nielson, a Washington, D.C.-based sound designer, he was able to learn from the best as he worked as audio master in theatres in the metro-D.C. area. Now resident sound designer at the Round House Theatre in D.C., he stopped by TheatreFace.com in August to talk about skills, process and getting ahead. To read a transcript of the entire interview, head over to www.theatreface.com/mattnielson. Read More...
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