Backdrops and Drapery

The right way to incorporate sound-blocking fabric and products into your venue
The right way to incorporate sound-blocking fabric and products into your venue
The right way to incorporate sound-blocking fabric and products into your venue

When it comes to acoustic blocking, drapery is your ultimate ally—when chosen and utilized properly. Figuring out exactly how to do this can be a bit confusing, however. What level of sound absorption will your space require? Should you choose traditional acoustic drapery, the newly developed sound-blocking panels that are now shaking up the market, or a combo platter of both? And how can you correctly hang or install your materials correctly, keeping technical considerations and venue accessibility in mind? We went to the experts to get the details. 

Read more: Silence is Golden

Backdrops and Drapery

Backdrops Fantastic’s Paris Opera Rooftops backdrop receiving its final touches.
Backdrops Fantastic’s Paris Opera Rooftops backdrop receiving its final touches.
Backdrops help theatres take audiences to new worlds every day

It’s easy to forget in the middle of tech, but part of the magic of theatre is its sheer excitement—its ability to take audiences on adventures and journeys outside their normal experience. A (literally) big way to take audiences places and generate that excitement is the backdrop—so we checked in with a host of backdrop and drapery manufacturers to find out what they were excited about this year, and how they can help you convey that excitement to audiences. 

Read more: Painting Excitement

Feature

Derek McLane came up with a multiple-story set to help represent the Brill Building and the multiple locations of Beautiful
Derek McLane came up with a multiple-story set to help represent the Brill Building and the multiple locations of Beautiful
Derek McLane and the Scenic Design of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

The lively Beautiful: The Carole King Musical captures the musical essence of Carole King while chronicling the life events and artistic evolution that led up to her landmark solo album, Tapestry. “She’s an amazing songwriter,” declares the show’s scenic designer Derek McLane. “Most of us are familiar with Tapestry and with the stuff that she wrote for other people, but we don’t associate [all of] it with her and don’t necessarily know that she wrote it. What surprised me when I first read it was that she wrote ‘The Loco-Motion.’”

Read more: Creating a Beautiful World

Feature

Deirdre Lovejoy
Deirdre Lovejoy
A conversation with Dierdre Lovejoy about building a career on stage, TV, and film

An acting career in today’s entertainment landscape means being able to practice your craft across many mediums—stage, film, television and even streaming media. Actors maintain a viable career by treading the boards in a play one day and stepping in front of the camera (be it for computer screen, TV screen, or big screen) the next. The reality for any actor today is that to be a working actor means to work in all mediums. Of course, the mediums are not the same and actors need to work to hone their skills to be able to adapt to the job at hand and still bring a truthful life to the role they are playing. 

Read more: A Modern Acting Career

Feature

LED profile fixtures like the Chauvet Professional Ovation E-190WW may look like normal ellipsoidals, but they dim in a completely different way.
LED profile fixtures like the Chauvet Professional Ovation E-190WW may look like normal ellipsoidals, but they dim in a completely different way.
The art and science of fine-tuned LED dimming

From the earliest cave dwellers using flickering flames to project scary shadows on walls to the Romans positioning torches on their stages to the Victorian theatres with their gas battens, lighting has always been used to enhance the dramatic experience. Somewhere along the way we learned that lighting could add even more impact to our storytelling if we tempered its output through a process that we now call dimming. 

Read more: Stepping Stones

Light On The Subject

System A
System A
Once your lighting network hardware is in place, you have an abundance of tools to make sure it operates correctly and makes your life easier. 

[This is the latest installment in Peter Kirkup's ongoing look at the state of lighting network control. Past installments include: Ethernet Demystified from June 2013, "Perplexing Protocols" from August 2013, "Know Your Nodes" from October 2013, and "How Clean Are Your Pipes" from December 2013.]

In the past columns we’ve discussed at length various hardware options related to your lighting control network. These include nodes, switches, topologies and latencies—if you’ve missed these I seriously recommend you check the back editions of Stage Directions which will give you a great insight into the hardware required to create a modern and reliable network for your console. But there is another important factor to consider when designing your system and that is the software configuration of the network itself. 

Read more: Lighting Network Management Tools

Answer Box

Pride and Prejudice at Purdue University—the sweeping staircase is in the upper left of this photo.
Pride and Prejudice at Purdue University—the sweeping staircase is in the upper left of this photo.
For a sweeping set stair unit the shop at Purdue had to contend with the helix effect, and over-thinking their plans

For our recent production of Pride and Prejudice at Purdue University, the set designer envisioned a grand sweeping staircase that was both freestanding and free-wheeling: able to be moved, spun and shifted at will by the actors during transitions. The project presented a number of key challenges for second-year MFA candidate and technical director Alex Owens, but the biggest two were the fact that the structural elements were complex to visualize in 3D and then flatten into two dimensions for the construction drawings, and the so-called “helix effect” of inclined curved members.

Read more: Pride and Prejudice and Complications

Sound Design

Jessie Mueller as Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Jessie Mueller as Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Sound designer Brian Ronan shares the sonic secrets behind Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

Jessie Mueller has garnered acclaim for her portrayal of Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, not only for matching her vocals, but managing to convince people that she is playing any keyboard she touches. Sound designer Brian Ronan spoke to us about the challenges he faced mixing the show and about synching up the conductor with the lead actor in order to create the illusion of piano performance.

Read more: Capturing Beautiful Sounds

Off the Shelf

Recent books on a variety of theatre topics
Recent books on a variety of theatre topics
Recent books on a variety of theatre topics

The Play’s the Thing

Theresa Rebeck has said that her plays are often about “betrayal and treason and poor behavior. A lot of poor behavior.” That certainly holds true for many of the titles in Theresa Rebeck: Complete Plays Vol. IV, including Mauritius, The Understudy, Our House, O Beautiful, Seminar, Dead Accounts and What We’re Up Against. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious, Rebeck’s work is almost always thought provoking. [Smith & Kraus]

Read more: Good Reading

TD Talk

The tasks of a TD are many
The tasks of a TD are many
Pinning down what a TD does might be made easier by describing what a TD doesn’t do

This is the latest in my continuing examination of the TD position—and its many possible variations. (If you want to read the previous two, check out the Jan. and March editions of TD Talk online at www.stage-directions.com.) 

The biggest issue in defining the technical director is that there are many different duties associated with the position in many different fields. A quick look at the Wikipedia entry for TD shows entries in software, film, television and theatre. And within theatre there is a wide variation of duties, too. If you look at ads on Offstagejobs.com or in Artsearch you will find that almost every TD listing has a different job description. In order to paint a better picture of the possibilities (and responsibilities) of the TD position, I wanted to list as many job duties as possible. 

Read more: Defining the TD

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