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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:


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.


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.

Signor Deluso and The Harpies

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

Over the winter break, I’ve been working on paint elevations and the SketchUp model for our opera offering, which features the pairing of “Signor Deluso” and “The Harpies.” Here’s the model arranged for “The Harpies,” set in the Barnett Theatre:

And this image features the set arranged for “Signor Deluso:”

Intro to Design

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

With the end of the year comes final projects in the Intro to Design course. The last set of projects is the the lighting design portion of the class, and includes developing a cue synopsis, finding visual research images, and creating a greyscale storyboard. They also choose two greyscale sketches to do in color, which then inform the creation of magic sheets for those two looks. Here’s a sample of their work. First, Abbey Frey’s design for “Detroit ’67.”

And then Moira Kowalski’s work on the same play:

And then, Natalie Meikle’s work on,. once again, “Detroit ’67” (“Clybourne Park” was the other play used for the class’s projects)

The Harpies and Signor Deluso

Posted in Uncategorized on December 13th, 2021 by Eric Appleton

It’s the last week of the semester and finals are upon us. However, that means getting more of the design for the Spring opera sorted out before the winter break begins, so we can return in January and get right to work. I’ve had meetings with out TD and the two students taking on assistant tech director roles; they worked through the drawings and broke things down for cost. It looks like we can afford everything I’m asking for, though of course, affording the materials isn’t the same as having the time and labor to get it all done. I’m pretty sure I’ve kept everything within parameters. And then there’s the question of how much higher the cost of materials will be in January, thanks to all those supply chain issues.

In any case, I’ve begun working up paint elevations using Photoshop. This is the first time I’ve used Photoshop as my primary paint elevation medium — normally I would do things with watercolor and colored pencil, but since the treatment for this show is rather basic (and based on Looney Tunes schemes) I thought it would be a good one to try out for a first go around.

Here’s the elevation for one of the Deluso facades:

And one for one of the Harpies facades:

Now, off to watch the Intro to Theatre students present their costume design projects!

The Harpies and Signor Delusa

Posted in Uncategorized on December 6th, 2021 by Eric Appleton

The minute “She Kills Monsters” closed, we were on to the design process for the Spring opera. Due to COVID scheduling issues, the selection of our opera offerings didn’t get finalized until well into the Fall semester; much had to do with being sure that the pieces fit within singer and musician safety guidelines; we were looking for small cast, small orchestra pieces. We ended up choosing two twentieth century one-act operas: Thomas Pasatieri’s “Signor Delusa,” and Mark Blitzstein’s “The Harpies.” An added hurdle was that the design work had to begin before we were able to obtain the full scores and librettos. So.

Director Bruce Cohen wanted some visual approach that tied the two rather different pieces together as a unified evening of comic opera. We chose to head toward a Chuck Jones era Looney Tunes visual agenda, making the pieces both cartoony and presentational. The orchestra has been moved into the stage in full view of the audience. Here are two photos of the very rough preliminary model, showing the set up for “The Harpies:”

and for “Signor Delusa:”

The catch at this point is that our TD and TD students need to review the design elements and figure out if we have the time, budget, and resources to build this idea — before I’ve finished drafting the whole of the set design to give them the details they need to make their decisions.

Onward. . .