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Answer Box

  • Making the Movers Into Followers

    Matt DeMascolo | Answer Box | August 1, 2010Hempfield High School student Ryan Stewart, operating a modified Mac 2000 Performance as a “followspot.” Turns out you can use moving lights as followspots—with a little modification… I was moved to write this Answer Box piece after reading the interview with LD Joseph Oshry in the March issue of Stage Directions. In that interview, Oshry says “I would like to point out that a moving light is not an effective substitute for a good followspot with a good operator…Moving lights are simply not followspots.” With all due respect (and an acknowledgement that I agree with Oshry’s larger point), I would like to suggest that moving lights can make great followspots—but you still do need great ops. Read More...
  • Composers and Curriculum

    Jacob Coakley | Answer Box | June 1, 2010A moment from the 2005 Seaside Music Theatre production of MTI-licensed Beauty and the Beast. Drew Cohen, President of Music Theatre International, on adapting shows for younger performers Music Theatre International is one of the world’s leading dramatic licensing agencies, with more than 300 classic and contemporary show titles from Broadway, Off-Broadway and London’s West End, including such hits as Godspell, Annie and even Disney’s High School Musical. They’re also dedicated to the idea of theatre in education, and have created special collections for younger audiences including 60-minute and 30-minute adaptations of major musicals designed for middle school and elementary school students, and “School Editions” of popular musicals adapted and annotated for high school audiences (like RENT: School Edition). Read More...
  • Making the Skyline Sparkle

    L. Jean Burch | Answer Box | May 1, 2010Chicago Scenic Studios created the city-scape ground rows on The Addams Family, now playing on Broadway. The production team for the Broadway-bound production of The Addams Family, which had its out-of-town premiere at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre, contracted with Chicago Scenic Studios to produce the upstage ground row. Designed by Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott, the show’s co-directors and co-designers, the units represent a view of New York City’s Central Park and the cityscape behind it.   Read More...
  • The Texture of Ghosts

    Jacob Coakley | Answer Box | April 1, 2010 Nick Keenan placed a speaker in a table to mimic the sound of props in New Leaf Theater’s production of A.R. Gurney’s The Dining Room.Nick Keenan is a Chicago-based sound designer who has worked with a lot of storefront theatres (he’s Artist in Residence at Chicago’s New Leaf Theatre, not to mention a multitude of designer credits across town) and larger ones as well (he’s sound op at the Goodman Theatre). You can check out his demo reel at nikku.net/#demo. He also teaches and is on the faculty of Northwestern University’s “Cherub” program for high school theatre students.  Read More...
  • Light as Object

    Jacob Coakley | Answer Box | March 1, 2010 Adams' Wall of LightAdams' Wall of Light Kevin Adams is one of the hottest lighting designers around, with a portfolio full of such well-received work as Spring Awakening (Tony Award winner), The 39 Steps (Tony Award winner), Hair (Tony Award nomination) and Next to Normal (Tony Award nomination). He’s also worked at regionals across the country like Berkeley Rep, Steppenwolf, La Jolla Playhouse, Houston’s Alley Theatre and more. His work is characterized with bursts of color and a bright, vibrant palette that puts the focus equally on light as well as the object making the light—something he lifted from artists he saw in L.A. in the late ‘80s. Adams took some time out from his work on the Broadway transfer of American Idiot to chat on TheatreFace.com about his training, philosophy and light as an object. To read a transcript of the whole conversation, visit www.theatreface.com/kevinadams Read More...
  • Change Built In

    Jacob Coakley | Answer Box | February 3, 2010 Mark Pawsey Mark Pawsey, Stage Manager for Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity, trained in stage management at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and worked all across the U.K. and West End before linking up with Cirque du Soleil. He’s worked on some of the biggest successes in the world (the original production of The Phantom of the Opera) and the biggest flops (King, a musical about Martin Luther King, Jr., lost $5 million in six weeks) and now finds himself in one of the most unique SM jobs in the world. During a chat on TheatreFace.com he spoke about finding work that speaks to you—“There are many times in your life you have multiple opportunities, and I always based my decisions on what I would be happiest doing, not what would get me the biggest step up or foot in the door”—as well as the process for integrating new acts into a show that’s more than five years old. A short excerpt of the interview follows, but you can read the whole thing online at www.theatreface.com/markpawsey.   Read More...
  • Don’t Just Sit There!

    Jacob Coakley | Answer Box | January 1, 2010 StageNorth hosts numerous free events for the community—like this outdoor party from summer of 2009—to familiarize people with the theatre.StageNorth Community Theater aims to get its audience to do more than just watch the plays. StageNorth hosts numerous free events for the community—like this outdoor party from summer of 2009—to familiarize people with the theatre.StageNorth Community Theater is a for-profit theatre in the town of Washburn, Wisc. Located in northern Wisconsin, this rural town has a population of 2,000, so finding ways to build an audience is of utmost importance. As artistic director of the theatre, Noah Siegler is determined to find ways to engage new audiences for his theatre and make sure they know the theatre is a place for them to work and create, not just for passive observation of “art.” In our chat on TheatreFace.com we talked about some of his outreach efforts and how he builds a sense of ownership around his theatre in his community, starting with non-traditional events like an annual facial hair competition. Read More...
  • Slinky Lights

    Jacob Coakley | Answer Box | December 1, 2009Steve Shelley shares how to create even bands of light across the stage. Fig. 5-18When Steve Shelley walked into his first professional lighting gig it would be three years before he saw a cue from front of house. The hectic nature of his job gave him fodder for some outlandish stories (check out www.theatreface.com/steveshelley for some of them) and enough real-life experience with lighting and lighting paperwork to create Field Templates; SoftSymbols, a lighting symbol toolkit designed in Vectorworks; and write A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting, a comprehensive guide to creating a lighting plot and the appropriate documentation for a theatrical production. He just finished writing the second edition of A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting and stopped by TheatreFace Nov. 11 to share his story and talk about what was in the new edition. Read More...
  • Sacrifice Nothing

    Jacob Coakley | Answer Box | November 1, 2009Gabriel Luna as Orestes and Smaranda Ciceu as Helen in Cambiare’s OrestesCambiare Productions builds their shows and audience in unconventional ways  Cambiare Productions from Austin, Texas, came online to TheatreFace.com to talk about their lightning-fast development of a new adaptation of the Orestes myth, which cadges from Sophocles’ Elektra, Aeschylus' Oresteia and Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis, Iphigenia Among the Taurians in addition to his Orestes. The resulting work ended up reflecting all those different sources in a “fractured fever dream” of a narrative. The production was nominated for several Austin Circle of Theatres B. Iden Payne Awards, including Outstanding Production of a Drama. Read More...
  • A Chorus of Solos

    Jacob Coakley | Answer Box | October 1, 2009 Don Reed in a moment from his production of EAST 14th True Tales of a Reluctant Player at the MarshCreators from The Marsh talk about generating new work I was extraordinarily excited to have Stephanie Weisman, the artistic and executive director of The Marsh, a breeding ground for new performance, and David Ford, an artist in residence at the Marsh, join me on TheatreFace.com to chat about their work supporting and developing solo shows in San Francisco. Of course, that meant that something was bound to go wrong. In between technical difficulties, though, we managed to have a great chat about the artistic process. Here’s a sample. For the full, unedited transcript, head over to www.theatreface.com/themarsh.   Read More...
  • Filing Cabinet Headstones

    Jacob Coakley | Answer Box | September 1, 2009Kurt Boetcher's filling cabinet floor set design allowed for quick set changes in location as well as traps to hide props and even dispose of a body.Kurt Boetcher and Boston Court bury the body The Theatre at Boston Court produced the world premier of Laura Schellhardt’s Courting Vampires in May. Set Designer Kurt Boetcher stopped by TheatreFace.com for a chat interview to talk process and how they solved the problem of burying a body onstage. Read More...
  • Making It Available to Everyone

    Jacob Coakley | Answer Box | August 1, 2009 Available Light Produced Dead City by Sheila Callaghan in 2008Available Light Produced Dead City by Sheila Callaghan in 2008Available Light Theatre in Columbus, Ohio, is a nomadic theatre that exclusively produces topical new work, with four regional premieres in the past 18 months and one world premiere. In uncertain economic times every performance is “Pay What You Want”—and they ended the season in the black. I brought Artistic Director Matt Slaybaugh online to TheatreFace.com for a live chat about how he makes it work. Here’s an excerpt where Slaybaugh talks about the Pay What You Want Model, and fields some questions from online members. Read More...
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