Suds and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Posted in Lighting Design, Scenic Design on July 1st, 2015 by Eric Appleton

On my way in to Milwaukee yestderday, I stopped at the shop both to rummage for some unistrut hardware and to see how construction on “Suds’ was going. Our TD, Steve, and the students have made excellent progress.

Here’s Quinn working on the laundry tables:

And Alison continues painting everything pretty much single-handedly:

How things look from the booth:

And then, on to Kadish Park for Shakespeare in the Park. Bo and I spent about forty five minutes trying to figure out why the dimmers weren’t talking to the board. Turned out we needed the five pin to three pin adapter that was concealed in a compartment in the road case (even though the manual said the board could speak directly through 3 pin, and there were two three pin ports on the back of the board).

I then complained about the board in Facebook, and an old acquaintance at ETC said he had a personal Microvision in his garage that might still be working and he’d be willing to lend it to us. He’s going to check it out tonight, and who knows? Tomorrow we might have a Microvision and won’t have to run the show the old fashioned way. . .

And here’s a shot of the theatre at the end of the evening’s run, under a full moon.

Cue and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Posted in Lighting Design on June 30th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

A last pic from ETC’s Cue conference this past weekend, waiting for Al Crawford to talk about his company, which lights, it seems, everything from weddings to Madison Square Garden (painting the whole of exterior with blue light in five days).

And then it’s back to life on the ground, where training on the Cobalt console fades into the background because we have 24 sort of 1k dimmers and a Leprecon hybrid board to light a show in a pavilion designed by an architect who apparently never realized that in a ‘theatre’ (says so right there on the concrete wall) you might want to provide some way to light a performer’s face. . .

Here’s part way through the hang yesterday:

A close-up of the ‘grid.’ Square pipes front and back that are slightly angled and are too bit large for non-standard c-clamps. . . You’ve be surprised how much is hung with plastic zip ties. . .

And the back wall of the set going in:

ETC Cue!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 27th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

I’m fortunate to live in Madison, where Electronic Theatre Controls is also based. Even better, ETC puts together a conference every two years offering training on various consoles and seminars for educators. I’ve been away from hard core cutting edge lighting technology for too long (I know my way around an Expression, but that’s as far as I go) (I mean, we’re using as Leprecon for Midsummer’s. . . ) so I decided to jump in at the deep end and get some training on the Cobalt desk.

Here’s the registration desk . .

And here we are waiting for the morning’s keynote speaker, Fred Foster, founder of ETC (yes, he did start the company out of his parents’ home. . .).

The rest of the day was spent in front of a Cobalt desk, having my brain gently fried by ETC’s expert trainers. . .but it was very, very cool.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Posted in Lighting Design on June 26th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

This summer also features a second lighting design for The Optimists with their Shakespeare in the Park in Milwaukee production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Rehearsals have been underway for a few weeks, and tonight was the first night rehearsals were held in the space.

Arrangement for Murder, No.2 and Suds!

Posted in General Production, Scenic Design on June 25th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

Here’s the finished set for “Arrangement for Murder, No. 2:”

Next week, they’ll be striking that and loading in “Suds!”, which is under construction and being rehearsed in the Barnett.

Allison Lozar is doing pretty much all the paint work this summer. Here she is, walking across the shop.

I think that’s Bruce, over there to the side.

Boeing Boeing

Posted in Lighting Design on June 25th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

“Arrangement for Murder, No. 2″ opened Tuesday night (it went well — the audience was receptive and gasped at the ending twist). I drove into Milwaukee Wednesday to chat with the ME and TD at the Skylight about the upcoming production of “Boeing Boeing” for Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. Got copies of the first wave of set drawings (scenic design by Brandon Kirkham).

It’s gonna be interesting. The set is pushed all the way against the proscenium, and there’s a giant mobile hanging over the playing space. The doors all have an overhang (though with recessed lighting over each). The ceiling and the mobile aren’t so much the challenge, it’s that there’s no place to get a lift for focusing once the set is in place (which was the main subject of our discussion). Almost all the lighting will be coming from the FOH, and what is over the stage itself is going to be a mite tricky. . .


Posted in Playwrighting on June 22nd, 2015 by Eric Appleton

An interesting week at Western Michigan University’s inaugural Activate Midwest new play workshop and festival. Got to meet some other lovely early career writers, check out an unfamiliar department, and catch up with some old acquaintances. One of the highlights was the day with Sarah Ruhl. Here’s a slightly blurry picture of her (sitting there on the floor) with some of the students participating in the program (the festival is an outgrowth of the school’s playwrighting program).

Since my play is a sort of ghost story, it’s fun to note that an orb showed up in this flash photo, taken in a dusty black box theatre. . .


Posted in Playwrighting on June 16th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

I’m in Kalamazoo this week, workshopping “Ghostbears!” at Western Michigan State’s ActivateMidwest! festival. I am told that later this week we will get to have lunch with Sarah Ruhl.

Here’s the schedule for the first half of the week:

This is the Gilmore theatre complex. It’s huge. The black box is bigger than most proscenium theatres. . .

Here are two blurry photos of the students getting ready for rehearsal (all the actors are students) in the cavernous D. Terry Williams Theatre.


Posted in General Production, Scenic Design on June 10th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

While I went off on a brief vacation, TD Steve Chene and the students have been hard at work getting the Summeround shows built.

First, reminders of the designs:

This is for my murder thriller, “Arrangement for Murder, No.2:”

And this is the musical “Suds:”

Both are in the Hicklin, our black box theatre.

Here’s “Arrangement” nearing completion:

The brick wall things are stand-in paintings.

Here’s Allison, props manager, gluing down pieces of art:

In the shop, TAs Quinn and Bruce work on the walls for “Suds.”

I’m told that Allison spent most of yesterday cutting out bubbles. . .


Posted in Playwrighting on May 15th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

At Western Michigan University today for a workshop of Ghostbears! as part of their Activate Midwest series. I arrived last night and had a chance to see the evening reading of yesterday’s playwright. This morning, we started with a cold reading, discussion with the student actors, and lunch and discussion with the grown-ups. Then back to the hotel room to write while the iron was hot.

Then I emailed the revised script in, and we had an evening reading of the new version in front of the rest of the acting and playwrighting students taking part in the program. It was generally agreed the work I’d done in the afternoon really pushed the play forward, and I feel pretty good about the next series of revisions.

Here’s a photo of the the students in the York theatre as we got going for the evening’s read: