Building, Altering, Learning

This week has been a busy one.  As rehearsals for A Man For All Seasons have progressed, the notes and requests for technical elements have increased.  Last week was very smooth, but this week brought a few setbacks.

Tuesday September 20

Stagecraft Practicum with the help of Theatre work-study students set to work on several projects. In the costume department, Tina had students busy with several costume fittings, and alterations. As I mentioned last week, many of the rented items were in disrepair, so Rachel, Rachel, Aidan and Julie were seam ripping, removing trim, cutting, altering, and repairing the whole work time.  Fittings went well (including that awesome Henry VIII costume in the photo from last week.  The golden shirt was a little snug on the actor, so Tina is going to recycle the sleeves and rebuild the rest.  It will look great!

Lighting progressed a little as Whitney learned more about the set up of Peters Theater and how the lighting positions effect the stage areas.

A top lighted view of the model set.

Looking at the model helps to see the challenges this set design poses for lighting.

A front light view of the model set.

The scenery crew began work on framing the flats for the half Tudor arches that are the main feature of the set design.  These arches will be built in two parts (a leg section, and the arch border section).  Students began measuring, cutting and assembling the leg framing, but discovered that our pneumatic stapler was not working.  This tool has been in the shop for over 20 years and has served us well.  A new stapler was needed, but there was no time to get it in time to work on Tuesday.

The retired stapler.

We went on a hunt for needed props in the prop room so that the cast can begin to work with items on stage in rehearsal. We were able to pull some props from stock, but some familiar items were missing from the storage room.  Last fall the prop room was emptied and sorted.  Duplicate items were boxed up for donation and stored backstage.  We went through the boxes of items in search of some of the missing items that Prof. Wyman recalled being in stock.  Several items were found, but some are just lost.  So the quest continues.  We need a table and chairs that fit the period of the play and Prof. Wyman knows some shops in the area that might have just the thing.

Another part of the crew loaded up Nate’s and Prof. Wyman’s two truck beds with those left over prop items to donate to the Hillcrest Thrift Store near campus.  It was fun to see the faces of the guys at the donation dock when we pulled in with about 25 boxes of household items.  They were shocked, but appreciative for the donation.  It felt good to move all of that stuff out of the theater too!

Wednesday September 21

Prof. Wyman took a little drive over to Claycomo (a neighboring township about 10 miles down the road) which is home to Timeless Treasures Antique Mall.  This is the sort of place where they know your name when you walk in the door.  He was on the hunt for a Jacobean styled table and chairs and some pewter mugs.  No luck!  He did find some period appropriate brown glazed stoneware mugs, so the trip wasn’t a total waste.

Brown stoneware mugs for the show.

Thursday September 22

Thursday went more smoothly armed with a new stapler for the scenery crew to use!  All four leg units were assembled within a couple of hours and Nate and Caleb completed the calculating needed to cut the framing lumber for the “arch border “units.  The new stapler worked out well and made the work quick and easy.

One of the Leg units for the Tudor arches.
The new stapler.

Rachel (another one…not the costume Rachel) spent the afternoon working on a publicity/marketing plan.  She utilized the new Digital Media Lab in Brown Hall to research how other theatre companies are marketing their shows visually.  She shared her results with Prof. Wyman and next week we will work on a poster concept to produce.

The costume crew had a few more fittings and are in the process of finalizing an order for hats and tights.  Caleb’s costume fit perfectly!  Shoes were pulled together for most of the cast and should be on their feet by Tuesday night’s rehearsal.  It is helpful for cast members to get into their “show shoes” early to begin to work in footwear appropriate to the time period. Again, the two Rachels continued their work on alterations and repairs as Tina worked on laying out patterns for making a couple of the costumes that could not be rented.  The Rachel who is also in the cast is most likely going to work on building her own dress for the show, which is a huge treat.  (Speaking of treats; thanks Tina for the candy treats that kept us going at the end of the week!)

Caleb as Richard Rich.

The lighting crew (Whitney and Layla) were busy testing light fixtures in the box boom positions. The booms are the positions on the upper sides of the house, which many alumni of Jewell Theatre lovingly know as “the ports” (we’re into fancy/accurate names for them these days!)  These two students worked hard physically and mentally as they did a ton of “theatre math” to calculate throw distance and beam spread for each of the stage areas and boom positions.  With the help of the “cheat sheet” which has many calculations already complete, they were able to determine which lenses to install into each fixture.  This pre-work takes the mystery out of hanging and focussing lights.  Whitney even stated that what she thought was the scariest of the practicums is actually quite enjoyable.

A view of the House Left box booms of Peters Theater.

So that’s the report for this week.  Prof. Wyman is off to do some shopping at the River Market Antique Mall on Saturday.  He usually finds what he needs there.  Let’s hope!

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