The Busybody

Posted in Uncategorized on April 25th, 2022 by Eric Appleton

Tonight is final dress, and then we open tomorrow! The rehearsals this weekend went pretty smoothly, and the list for the shop this afternoon is pretty manageable. The biggest item is assembling and painting the doorway for Gripe’s house.

But first, let’s back up to Thursday and Friday and all the activity during shop those afternoons. Here’s Tori, working on the Spanish tiles to be mounted around Traffick’s front door. We’ve adopted an assembly line approach — laying out the design, and then building them all up color by color.

And here’s Tori again an hour or so later, putting the finishing touches on the tiles:

Here we see Trevor installing the French doors on Traffick’s balcony, and Cody and Mary installing safety railings:

Here’s a close-up of Cody and Mary working on the safety railings:

One of Mary’s projects as an assistant technical director was to build the balcony rail. In this pic, it’s installed for rehearsal. Mary is seen in the doorway, still working on the safety railings:

Here we have Sam, Sam, and Harry attaching the Gripe doorway base structure to its doorstep wagon:

During the “monkey” scene in act two, a plate is broken. Here is props manager Abby painting the plastic plates that will be broken each night:

A view of the stage late on Thursday:

At tech Friday night, here is director Sara Griffin talking to a group of performers during the fight call. You can see the Spanish tiles installed around Traffick’s doorway, and a partially complete frame around Gripe’s doorway. That’s Lochlain in the foreground, as light board operator.

And finally, a moment from Friday night’s rehearsal, from behind the tech table:

The Busybody

Posted in Uncategorized on April 19th, 2022 by Eric Appleton

Technical rehearsals begin later this week. Focus is done, except for things that need to get focused on the walls. We’ve got the pieces and are now starting to assemble them. The big items yesterday was getting the two major walls painted and raised.

Here’s from a day ago; the walls are almost done getting skinned with lauan:

Here’s Abby using a router to trim away excess around the openings:

At the end of the day yesterday, we stood the walls up and secured them with jacks so they could be used during that evening’s rehearsal:

Abby celebrates out accomplishment:

Abby is also the head of the props team, and here’s teammate Valerie (who is also in the show) working on the chimney board. Here she uses the bandsaw to cut out the legs:

And then a very detailed period paint treatment:

Seeing the star motif she selected, I decided to use a star motif for the changing screen. The chimney board is part of the Gripe household, and sticks to that house’s blue palette. The changing screen is part of the Traffick household, and sticks to that house’s golden Spanish motifs.

Here Cody and another student work on the doorstep platforms. There’s TD Ruth and Trevor in the background discussing the Gripe windows:

Ruth also decided to brush off her welding skills and use steel for the climbable trellis:

Here she is on the driveway behind the shop, preparing to grind down the burrs:

The Busybody

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13th, 2022 by Eric Appleton

We’re in the midst of construction (and just finished light hang) for Susan Centlivre’s “The Busybody.” Here are a few photos from yesterday in the scene shop.

Trevor works on framing up the windows for the Gripe family’s facade:

Sam works with another student on framing up the Gripe family’s facade:

Technical Director Ruth discusses a project with Cody:

And then here’s Cody again with a drawing, putting together a cut list:

This is a photo from about two weeks ago when I was working on the stage floor:

This week, though, my project is painting the two cityscape groundrow flats. In this photo I’ve just started painting the detail on the stage left flat:

And this one is from about half an hour earlier, after I just laid in some shadow on the stage left flat:

The Busybody

Posted in Uncategorized on April 12th, 2022 by Eric Appleton

I plan to get some photos of work in the shop in the next couple days, but in the meantime, here are two photos of the model. Because of time constraints I rarely build a fully colored model for our productions, but since we were exploring model building in Advanced Design Seminar, I felt that I should include myself in the exercises and build an example. Building the furniture was one of my Spring Break activities.

Here is the set up for Gripe’s interior:

And the set up for Traffick’s interior:

We’re also taking the play on a brief tour; a single performance at the Cravath Lake park pavilion in downtown Whitewater. The city didn’t have drawings of the space to share, so I and some students went down one afternoon and did a quick survey. After drafting the plan, I built a model in SketchUp so that we could all see how the furniture and portable scenic pieces could be arranged in the space.

The Harpies and The Busybody

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10th, 2022 by Eric Appleton

Our production of “The Harpies” and “Signor Deluso” closed a couple weeks ago and we’re now about to open Dancescapes. I finally sorted through half of my photos from the final dress rehearsal, and here are a few of them:

First, the pre-show announcement, made by the Argonauts:

The Harpies harass Phineas and steal his food:

The Argonauts arrive and Phineas convinces them to protect his lunch:

The Argonauts confronting the Harpies. Or rather, the Harpies confronting the Argonauts:

Iris restores order, and the Argonauts and Harpies head off to their respective destinations:

While the students and our Tech Director have been busy with Dancescapes. I’ve been finishing up designs for “The Busybody,” our final show of the year. Here is the SketchUp model, as I presented to the team at our first production meeting:

The set serves both interior and exteriors, with the interior scenes being played downstage. The furniture visible in the model come and go as needed; they’re not present throughout, as the downstage area also serves as the street.

And, since we’re working on models in Advanced Design Seminar, I thought it’d be a good thing to start construction on a presentational model of the set, since it’s always good to have finished examples of what you wish the students to aim toward. Here are some of the bits, with a first coat of gesso:

The Harpies/Signor Deluso

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23rd, 2022 by Eric Appleton

We opened our two one act operas this past weekend. Directed by Bruce Cohen, Music Direction by Bob Gehrenbeck, scenic design by me, lighting design by student Samuel J. Hess, costume design by Tracey Lyons, props managed by student Michael Bates, stage managed by student Samantha Ness, and tech direction by Ruth Conrad-Proulx with student ATDs Abby Smith-Lezama and Mary Sportiello.

The pics below are from the first dress rehearsal. I have to sort through the photos from final dress, but once I do, I will post a selection.

Here’s Ruth talking to Sam over the tech table. That’s board operator Trevor to the left.

Here’s the set up for “The Harpies” under worklight:

Bruce decided to have the Argonauts give the preshow announcement:

A moment late in “The Harpies” after Iris stops the confrontation between the Harpies and the Argonauts, with Phineas in the middle:

A moment early in “Signor Deluso:”

And the end of show, getting ready for curtain call:

The Harpies/Signor Deluso, plus scenic painting

Posted in Uncategorized on February 15th, 2022 by Eric Appleton

Monday was dry tech, Tuesday was the sitz/wandelprobe, and tonight we start tech proper for “The Harpies” and “Signor Deluso.” The plan tonight is to tech one of the pieces, and then tech the other tomorrow night.

Here we see student stage manager Sam and student lighting designer Sam having a confab at the tech table after meeting the director and talking through plans for for the rest of the afternoon’s dry tech.

Here’s the state of the set two days ago — the sidewalls up, and the Deluso flats in place. That’s orchestra director Bob Gehrenbeck setting up the music stands and positioning chairs.

Meanwhile, the facades for “The Harpies” are laid out on the floor in the Hicklin theatre; in this pic, I have just finished painting them.

Here are the units rotated so the Deluso facades are in positions. Still lots to do — windows, doors, steps, etc.

Finally, one the classes held this semester is a group independent study for scenic painting. Right now, the students have a couple of projects going — finishing up a study in dilution, shades, and tones, paying attention to detail and brush control as they letter lines of text, and then image transfer and lining practice as they copy a painting.

Here’s Mary working in her dilution project:

And here’s Abby studying her painting and Sam working on his text:

Here’s

The Harpies and Signor Deluso

Posted in Uncategorized on February 14th, 2022 by Eric Appleton

We head into tech this week for “The Harpies” and “Signor Deluso,” and I realized I had not yet posted some shop photos I took about a week or so ago. So, to start, here are two of the Intro students running lumber through the table saw. I’m not sure of the name of the student at the front, but that’s Valerie in the back, supporting the lumber.

Our props manager, Michael, is new to props, but is chugging right along. For “The Harpies” the Argonauts each require a shield. I had him do a bit of research and he came up with a design which he then fabricated. The pic below shows the shields waiting to have their handles and straps installed.

Here’s Cody cutting a scarf joint to create an extra long plank for one of the flats:

I’m pretty sure that’s Valerie again, on the floor of the Hicklin theatre working out some math for the framing of one of “The Harpies” flats.

Alexis is the ME for the show, and here she is, blurrily working with members of the lighting crew during hang.

A side project: After “She Kills Monsters” closed, I felt bad about discarding the rather complicated props and puppet pieces we’d constructed. Our associate dean suggested I contact the university Community Engagement Center to see if they had any display space. Kate Prange, who is temporarily running the CEC’s gallery, said to bring it all over and she’d put together an exhibition with the dragon heads as a centerpiece. The exhibition will open later this month, featuring our “She Kills Monsters” work, as well as selected pieces from the art and design department’s permanent collection.

I built stands for the dragons, and here’s the prototype standing in the shop:

On Friday last week, student Abby and I took the stands over to the gallery and set up the dragon heads. Here she is, screwing a cross piece to one of the stands. She was very excited to head over, as she’d been a student employee in the college’s Crossman gallery. Hoping to get a bit more exhibition and curation experience, she is looking forward to seeing if she can help out or even get employed in the CEC gallery (one of her interests in entertainment law and administration).

Harpies, Deluso, and Busybody

Posted in Uncategorized on January 31st, 2022 by Eric Appleton

Construction for our opera offering, “The Harpies” and “Signor Deluso” moves into week three. We finished painting the deck this past Friday, and here’s a pic of student Sam finishing up areas of the final color:

I’ve also been in conversation with director Sara Griffin regarding designs for the final production of the year, Susanna Centlivre’s Restoration comedy “The Busybody.” Sara’s been running back and forth to Chicago for some classes, as well as being under the weather this past week, so nothing has been finalized yet (though I’m supposed to turn in final drawings to the shop on Feb 14).

A major challenge of the play is balancing the needs of the interior scenes with the needs of the exterior scenes. At the moment, we appear to be heading toward a stationary facade, downstage of which interior scenes will be played. There’s also a balcony that a character leaps from onto the street. Oh, and we are planning to take the show to Whitewater’s downtown park for an afternoon matinee, so everything has to be portable and easy to breakdown and assemble.

One of the first iterations was this:

This shows the central facade with a residence on either side, and the balcony at the downstage point. A flat cityscape serves as masking (and will hide parts of the park’s pavilion). As we conversed, it morphed into this:

This version has the balcony more clearly associated with one of the houses (on stage right), which I think is better. This is where we currently stand. No doubt things will develop from here, especially once we bring in the technical director to discuss whether this idea is viable for touring.

As I wait for our director to become well, I also worked up a rough SketchUp model:

This image shows the two facades, the upstage cityscape, and furniture elements placed downstage to suggest interior spaces. At no time in the play are we in two interior spaces simultaneously.

Onward!

Drafting Fundamentals

Posted in Uncategorized on January 7th, 2022 by Eric Appleton

The book I wrote during my sabbatical last year was published by Routledge in December. Over the winter break, I received a email from Fred M. Duer, Department Chair and Head of Design at Temple University’s School of Theatre, Film, and Media Arts. I was floored by his positive reception of the book, and he gave me permission to post a quote from his email:

“You included history and respect for hand drafting, the tools, the proper uses of a piece of drafting. And you snuck in scenic design, scenic terms, nomenclature, molding names, stair parts — what were you thinking? Its everything I always try to do and sometimes have to pick and choose what and when to include those things. Your writing voice is simple and direct, but deeply detailed — for exactly the right reason. You have taken the mystery out of the 2D/3D connection. And loaded it with photo references and illustrations. Photos of windows and doors! The new student just doesn’t look at those things anymore, if they have even seen wooden door/window construction. And scenic designs at every level! This book is perfection!”

I’m not sure about perfection, but I’m very grateful that the book appears to adequately fill the gaps and serve the purpose for which it was intended. I feel like one of the big kids noticed the work and gave me a thumbs up.