Archive for August, 2013


Posted in Uncategorized on August 28th, 2013 by Eric Appleton

Dracula Aug 28

Now that we’re back in session, we must forge ahead with “Dracula,” the first show of the season. This is a rendering of the finished version, with some added furniture. Yes, the whole set, including props and furniture, will be in black and white.

La Musica Lirica

Posted in Lighting Design on August 15th, 2013 by Eric Appleton

Our final performance took us back to Cesena, though this time to the Biblioteca Malatestiana, the oldest public library in the world (550 years old). It was quite difficult to find, as the signs in Cesena pointed you toward the library, but the facade itself was under construction with no clear signage from the street. First a few photos on the road to Cesena.

17 on the way to cesena

18 on wayto cesena 2

19 roundabout on way to cesnea

One of the nice things about driving in Italy is the interesting art that gets placed in the roundabouts.

20 on way to cesena

This sign was actully posted right next to the courtyard entrance we were supposed to turn into. Certainly made it feel as though the library was still a little ways off.

26 front of library cesena

This is the front facade of the library. The only signage is there, above the door, behind the scaffolding. Since it was siesta time, no one was around.

21 found the library

But, thanks to our intrepid driver Claudio, we figured out where to go.

31 the venue in cesena

The courtyard, like the library, was from the 15th century.

22 library cesena

This was one of the few outdoor venues that had lighting as well as masking flats. Once again, facilities were a bit primitive; two portapotties back stage for the whole cast.

23 cesena

The stage set up for Lucia.

27 board in cesena

We ended the run with an analog board.

27.5hook up du jour cesena

The hookup du jour.

30 dinner breakcesena

On dinner break, a chance to walk around Cesena. Unlike last time, we were actually in the city center. This is the plaza in front of the library.

24 dinner break cesena

Down the street, a romanesque church — the unseen right side had a seriously baroque apse added to it.

28 mannerist fountain cesena

A plaza near the castle, with a seriously Mannerist fountain.

29 dinner break cesena

This was across from the fountain.

32 lucia in cesena

Finally, Lucia in performance. It would have been a stellar evening if we hadn’t been competing with a Rolling Stones concert, apparently over at the castle. It lent an extra urgency to the performance. The final act was accompanied by the yowling of mating cats on the cloister roof behind the stage. If a singer can hold his or her own against all of that, they’re doing okay.

La Musica Lirica

Posted in Uncategorized on August 14th, 2013 by Eric Appleton

A nearby town, Sant’ Agata Feltria, is home to one of the oldest still extant wooden theatres in Northern Italy: Teatro Angelo Mariani Sant’agata Feltria. Verdi himself premiered operas here. We didn’t tour to this theatre, but it was close enough that Candace (director of Figaro), Renee (set designer/TD), Anna (SM for Figaro), and myself drove up the next morning to see the space.

01 sant agata

Not the theatre yet, but a charming fountain we came upon as we left the parking lot.

01.5 sant agata

The front of the theatre.

02 sant agata

Once inside, you’re greeted by historic scenic art by Romolo Liverani.

04 sant agata

Renee holds up the monograph on the scenic artist. It wasn’t for sale, and we resisted the urge to steal it.

03 sant agata

Other drops were represented by smaller pictures of them.

05 sant agata

The drop currently hanging has actual peepholes worked into it so that actors could look out at the audience from backstage. Here’s Renee demonstrating.

2.5 sant agata

A slightly blurry photo of the stage.

06 sant agata

And a view from the stage. Note the meagre front of house lighting positions to the right and to the left.

06.5 sant agata

Note the tromp l’oeil work on the swag behind the blue curtain.

08 sant agata

And despite the fantastic scenic painting, the lighting was still on the primitive side. The First Electric with those ubiquitous PCs.

07 sant agata

Not much space over the stage, but those rafters are incredible.

09 sant agata

In the entrance, a preserved antique “No Smoking” sign.

10 sant agata

It was then time for lunch. Thank you, Candace!


That evening featured a performance in Novafeltria of La Cambiale di Matrimonio.

12 bad marble

Since we were fast approaching the end of the program, the next morning was spent beginning to clean the shop. There were plenty of left over pieces from years past that we were rather astounded by. Here’s what passed for marble. . .

13 bad chair

And we were all agreed that this was one of the most hideous pieces of stage furniture any of us had run across. Apparently this was put on stage for a previous production of Rigoletto.

15 shop cleaned 2

Much of that morning was also spent on our knees scrubbing the paint off the shop floor, but by the end of our efforts, the shop was spit spot. The executive of the school, Ubaldo, said it was the cleanest he’d ever seen it.

16 paint room cleaned

This was the room used as the paint shop. It also got thoroughly scrubbed. Always leave a space in better shape than you find it.

Much Ado About Nothing

Posted in Drawings, Scenic Design on August 14th, 2013 by Eric Appleton

Finished drafting “Much Ado” today and handed the drawings over to the director. It will be interesting to see how Stage Q puts this show together, since it’s probably the biggest show they’ve yet attempted (and that goes for costumes and lights as well. . .). Here’s wishing them luck.




Much Ado About Nothing

Posted in Drawings, Scenic Design, Scenic Painting on August 12th, 2013 by Eric Appleton

Drafting up plates for the Stage Q production of “Much Ado About Nothing,” being produced this Fall in Madison. We have a production meeting tomorrow night, so I hope to have the whole thing drafted to hand off, since I will not be around to help them build it (since I’m designing all three shows this Fall for the UWW, and when this goes up, we will be hip deep in “Dracula.”) The trick, of course, is trying to design something that can be successfully built by volunteers, within the highly theorectical minimal budget, in the fuzzy time allotted. . .


The groundplan.


The elevation.



More platforming, with the bar and dj booth.


And finally — a few years ago we did “The Threepenny Opera” at UWW. I was hoping to snag this sign I painted for my office, but it was whisked away by persons unknown at strike. It suddenly showed up at the end of the semester this year. . .

La Musica Lirica

Posted in Uncategorized on August 12th, 2013 by Eric Appleton

31 loading the truck for pennabilli

The theatre in Pennabilli sent its own truck that morning; we were surprised to learn that there were no sides. We also had to leave the scenery at the theatre overnight and return in the morning to strike. Fortunatley, Pennabilli was only about a half hour away from Novafeltria.

32 the truck unloaded in pennabilli

The truck, unloaded, in the narrow lane next to the theatre. That rusticated archway to the left in the stage door. Despite the interesting truck issue, this was one of the most pleasant load-ins we experienced.

33.5 teatro vittoira

The front of the Teatro Vittoria. The theatre itself is a couple hundred years old, but was thoroughly renovated about fifteen years ago. Some of the residences abutting the theatre were given to the theatre to increase the backstage and provide more dressing room space.

33 teatro vittoria in pennabilli

The interior, from the booth, as we set up for Suor Angelica and La Cambiale di Matrimonio.
37 FOH pennabilli

The view from the stage.

36 dimmers and patch bay in pennabilli

The dimmers and patch panel.

35 light board du jour

And the board du jour. . .

46 resistant dimmer on display in pennabilli

. . . which was a far cry better than the old resistance dimmer they had on display in the lobby.

38 the crew and franco in pennabilli

After setting up, the house man, Franco, took us on a biref tour, stopping at the overlook atop the mountain. from the left, it’s Franco, Renee (set designer/TD), Brandon (SM), Anna (SM for Figaro), Milly (painter), and Maura (props).

39 pennabilli from above

The view from the peak down into the town.

40in the orchard of forgotten fruit

The town is also the adopted home of the artist Tonino Guerro. One of his installations is “The Garden of Forgotten Fruit,’ a small orchard planted with antique varieties of fruit trees.

42 art of tonino guarre in pennabilli

Another Guerro piece near the theatre.

41 wicked cool chai in pennabilli

Pennabilli is also a center of antiques; here’s a very cool chair way beyond my budget.

43 hookup dujour in pennabilli

Pennabilli’s hookup du jour.

44 suor in pennabilli

Suor Angelica in performance.

45 suor in pennabilli

The final moments of Suor.

47 setting up for figaro in novafeltria

The next day, after returning to Pennabilli to collect the scenery, we performed Le Nozze di Figaro in our home space in Novafeltria. Here is the set, getting set up.

48 sean in novafeltria

And lighting intern Sean Houston fiddling with the preset. As noted earlier, curtain times were rather malleable, so audience drifted in early, drifted in late, and when enough people seemed to be present, the show started. . .

49 day off montebello

The next day was our day off, and while there was a group trip to Venice (leaving at an ungodly hour in the morning), much of the tech staff decided to forgo the five hour bus ride and enjoy the area around Novafeltria. Our production assistant Antonio suggested a day trip to Montebello, where his girlfriend had been a tourguide for many years. It was also the home of Azuretta, the blue ghost, and a cache of medieval furniture that had been discovered in an abandoned cellar. Sadly, we weren’t allowed to photograph the interior.

50 renee and antonio day off

The views, though, were spectacular. Here’s Renee and Antonio at one of the overlooks.

51 san marino from montebello

The view in the opposite direction, across the valley. That’s San Marino, covering that mountain in the distance.

52 looking toward Novafeltria from montebllo

And the view looking back toward Novafeltria. The lone knob to the right, in the distance, in Maioletta, a former hill town overlooking Novafeltria.

La Musica Lirica

Posted in Uncategorized on August 10th, 2013 by Eric Appleton

01 we find the venue in Cesena

On this day, the GPS directed us to a strange corner of Cesena. It turned out that we were performing in the central plaza of this bank building.

02 the stairs in cesena

A fellow came out and told us we couldn’t park on the plaza itself, instead telling us to park in a vacant grassy area next to the building. This meant lugging all the scenery up these stairs. The fellow then vanished, until after several frantic phone calls, he emerged an hour or so later with an interpreter to show us the dressing areas. . .

03 setting up in cesena

A view of the stage from behind, as we set up.

06 the stage set up in cesena

And the stage, finished.

04 searching for dinner in cesena

One of the challenges of Italy is the fact that everything shuts down in the middle of the day for the siesta, including many restaurants. We had to wander a fair distance, accidentally finding ourselves here (which a few days later we learned was pretty close to the city center), to find the first open pizzeria. Since the performers didn’t arrive until about five, they had no problem finding places to eat.

05 figaro gelato in cesena

On the other hand, gelato seems constantly available, and the shop across from the pizzeria had some of the best gelato of the trip. The Figaro flavor was particularly good.

07 sean houston in cesena

The audience arrives, and here is lighting intern Sean Houston at the board.

08 suor in cesena

Suor Angelica in performance in Cesena.

09 matrimono in cesena

And La Cambiale di Matrimonio in performance.

10 cloudy on way to rimini with san leo

The next day we returned to the Castel Sismondo in Rimini to perform Lucia di Lammermoor. It was rainy as we set out; Renee (the set designer), myself, and Claudio, our driver, left late. The crew was to follow. A picture from along the way — that’s San Leo foggy in the distance on the right.

11 stephanie help set up in rimini

Here’s costume designer Stephanie Henderson helping me set up the music stands for the orchestra. Setting up the pit became my special project night after night after night.

12 alex checks the stage in rimini

Stage manager Alex checks out the stage from the house.

12 dinne rbreak in rimini

On dinner break, passing through the piazza.

13 plaza of three martyrs in rimini

The Plaza of the Three Martyrs, in Rimini. This is the site of the intersection of two ancient Roman roads.

14 malatesta in rimini

The curious Renaissance Malatesta church.

15 tiberius arch in rimini

The arch of Tiberius.

16 Francois arrives in Rimini

Director Francois Loup arrives at the Castel.

17view from the light board in rimini

The audience arrives.

18 hookup du jour rimini

The hookup du jour.

19 lucia in rimini

And finally, Lucia in performance.

La Musica Lirica

Posted in Uncategorized on August 7th, 2013 by Eric Appleton

01 Renee painting Figaro

Thoughout the tech rehearsals, work on scenery continued. Here are the walls from Figaro, laid out in the shop as Renee (the scenic designer and TD) painted detail. That’s scenic/lighting intern Sean Houston in the back, there.

02 I jump in for Lucia portrait

The director of Lucia (Francois Loup) had asked for a portrait to hang in one of the scenes. I jumped in and banged it out. Here it is in progress. . .

07 finish lucia portrait

. . . and the next day, done.

03 Figaro a bit more done

More of the Figaro walls go up.
08 loading the truck for san marino

Here we are, loading the truck for one of the first tour dates — San Marino, which was about half an hour away.

09 inside the theatre in san marino

Interior of the theatre in San Marino, which, sadly enough, we did not perform in; though we used the dressing areas. Wonderful space, and if you note, contained the only ERS units we saw the whole trip.

10 inside the theatre in san marino 2

The San Marino theatre from the stage. We played in the Piazza Sant’ Agata, directly in front of the theatre.

11 getting set up in san marino

Here is the set, mostly up. The fellow to the right is Roberto, one of the team of local lighting technicians who made our lives much, much easier on many of the tour dates. He was also a singer.

16 the view from above in san marino

A view of the stage from above.

14 the board in san marino

The board du jour. Since most of the outside venues used the same lighting company, this was the board for most outdoor dates.

12 the view from dinner in san marino

On the dinner break, Renee, Maura (our props master), and myself climbed a bit higher. This was the view from our pizzeria table.

13 the view from coffee in san marino

. . . and then a little higher at the cafe near the top. That’s Rimini and the Adriatic.

15 candace relaxes in san marino

Candace Evans, director of Figaro, relaxes as we wait for the audience to arrive.

18 san marino mad scene

The mad scene. The president of San Marino and his wife were seated directly behind the maestro. I would have to say this was probably the most magical evening of the trip.

19 the venue in pesaro

The next day, we took Lucia to Pesaro, a beach resort town south of Rimini. The stage was in a castle. Which had a moat. An empty moat, but a moat nonetheless.

20 the backstage facilities in Pesaro

Being a castle, they were short on amenities. Here is the backstage toilet. The only backstage toilet. There were two portajohns for the audience out front.

21 the piazza in pesaro

On the dinner break, we took a walk — here’s the telecommunication building on the main piazza.

22 the lobster house in pesaro

This fantastic Art Nouveau house was near the beach. Note the lobster brackets holding up the eaves.

23 the tech staff eats in pesaro

And the tech staff all managed to accidentally convene at a cafe on the beach for dinner.

24 focus in pesaro

Back at the castle for focus. There were six 10″ (or so) PCs on the FOH truss, and 10 PAR 64s on the castle wall. All were too large for my cuts of color, and the staff had no frames. We did Lucia in white light that night.

25 the board in pesaro

The board du jour, a sister to the board in Novefeltria. The technicians were very reluctant to redo the soft patch so I could run it reasonably as a two scene preset — they wanted me to run it via submasters. I convinced them, eventually. It was very lucky we brought a rug we didn’t need, as the fire marshal brigade in attendance wouldn’t have allowed the board’s cords to be run to a position where the stage was visible from the board without something to cover them.

27 the hookup du jour in pesaro

The hookup du jour.

26 all set up in pesaro

The audience filters in as staging rehearsal takes place. We discovered that curtain times were very, very malleable.

28 wall washers in pesaro

We may not have had color on stage, but there were several kick-ass LED wall washers that were controlled through the board, so at least I got to change the color of the courtyard as the show progressed.

La Musica Lirica

Posted in Uncategorized on August 5th, 2013 by Eric Appleton

more figaro walls up

In the third week we begin teching the operas; this is a from a run of Figaro. These were less techs than run throughs with orchestra and very little time to change over between. There were also concerts scheduled in the space in the evenings. This was the first time performers ran through the shows with scenery, costumes, lights, or full orchestra, not to mention that with the compressed schedule scenery had yet to be completed (scenic design by Renee Suprenant).

the lucia set goes up

Here is the crew putting up the walls for Lucia’s tech rehearsal.

tech for suor angelica

A blurry photo of the final scene of Lucia, in tech.

tech for suor angelica 2

The final moments of Suor Angelica’s tech.

tech for La Cambiale

La Cambiale di Matrimonio’s tech.

cue sheets

Since we were working with twelve dimmers and did not know what types of boards were to be expected in other venues, the old fashioned two scene preset cue sheet was the best way to handle notation. Even this turned out to be rather hopeful, as once we went on tour, equipment and positions varied widely, and with darkness not coming until curtain, cueing tended to be improvised live each night.

first tour date. cloister in Rimini

Our first tour date was Suor and Cambiale in a cloister in Rimini. The technicians were extremely helpful, even cobbling together two extra sets of stairs to the platform for us. In the cinema next to the piazza which served as dressing rooms, there were glassed portions of the floor where you could look down to the medieval crypts and the old Roman road.

PCs in Rimini

A few of the PCs. These units were the type we found everywhere — no Fresnels, no ERSs. These units didn’t have working clamps and were gently wedged into the truss.

renee and electricians in Rimini

Renee watches set up as the local electricians nestle the PCs in the truss.

with our new friend Nicola in Rimini

Here we are waiting for the audience to arrive and speaking with our new friend Nicola, who then walked us down to the Tiberius bridge. The lightboard was the exact same model as what we had in Novefeltria, though we had fewer dimmers. . .

the bridge of tiberius in rimini

The Bridge of Tiberius, the 2000 year old bridge a short walk from the cloister. That’s the old section of Rimini, across the river.

string quartet rehearses in Rimini

The string quartet warms up.

performance of suor in Rimini

The performance of Suor Angelica. A much smaller stage than in Novafeltria, so it’s a little cramped. Since it was also the evening of Rimini’s pink festival, there were LED wash units lighting the apartment building behind the stage. The technicians were kind enough to let me pick the color for the performance.

performance of la cambiale in rimini

And finally, La Cambiale in performance.

La Musica Lirica

Posted in Uncategorized on August 2nd, 2013 by Eric Appleton

A little more catching up on the experience at La Musica Lirica, in Novafeltria, Italy.

the scene shop, as we found it

This is the scene shop, in the school, and even though construction is getting under way (scenic designer and technical director: Renee Suprenant), this is pretty much what it looked like when we arrived.

the costume shop

This is the costume shop, also in the school. That’s Renee in the foreground, and costume designer Stephanie Henderson back there behind the water bottle and laptop.

Day 11 covering flats in the foyer

Scenic interns in the foyer, covering flats with found material. Muslin was impossible to locate on such a short time frame and we were lucky to find a cache of interesting upholstery fabrics in a corner in the shop.

Day 16 making sandbags

Since the theatre did not have a fly system, there were no stageweights or sandbags to be had. Since the stage floors in all the indoor venues were raked, and the outdoor venues were, well, outdoors, we ended up buying sand and using some of the found fabric to make sandbags. Here’s the propsmaster and the scenic painting intern making the most beautiful sandbags ever.

Day 12 Checking out San Marino

One of our first tour dates was in Sant’ Agata Square in San Marino. Renee, Antonio, and I drove up to check out the plaza and find out what facilities were available for us. The screen is where the stage was to be constructed, and behind us, not in the photo, is the quite lovely theatre space where the dressing rooms were located.

Day 13 checking out Russi 2

We also drove to the town of Russi, to check out their space.

Day 13 checking out Russi 5

This is half of the front of house lighting available in Russi.

Day 13 checking out Russi 3

Note the steep rake. All the linesets were suspended by cotton line. No weights again.

Novafeltria Day 15 Rimini concert 2

Our first event was a concert of assorted show tunes and opera bits in the Castel Sismondo in Rimini. Renee, the set designer, was mistakenly noted as the director of The Marriage of Figaro — really Candace Evans.

Novafeltria Day 15 Rimini concert

The stage in the courtyard at the castle in Rimini. We would come back to this venue a number of times in the next few weeks.