Renovations & Installations

Rehearsal on the stage, with seating risers and some of the set.
Rehearsal on the stage, with seating risers and some of the set.
An outdoor Romeo & Juliet gets installed in a garden thanks to the work of artists and vets

Los Angeles is no stranger to cross-town rivalry and the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles’ summer production of Romeo and Juliet continues that theme. Director Kenn Sabberton (RSC and National Theatre of Great Britain) set the show in L.A. during the Roaring ‘20s, at the height of the publishing wars between the Chandlers and the Hearsts. Their iconic downtown L.A. buildings dominate the sparse stage set, showing a Los Angeles doing what it does best—having fun, making money and creating intrigue. But long before the star-crossed lovers meet on the corner of Wilshire and Sepulveda, the technical crew had the challenge of converting the sylvan setting into a working stage and amphitheater. The Japanese Garden, set in the grounds of the VA hospital facility in West Los Angeles, posed its own special challenges for the design team.

Read more: Love by the Freeway

Renovations & Installations

The interior of the Sun Theatre
The interior of the Sun Theatre
A historic theatre is brought back to vivid life—and theatre students benefit

The enduring spirit of a time-honored theatrical space always serves to inspire—and there’s no better example of this than the Sun Theatre in St. Louis, Mo. A glorious house dating back more than 100 years that had fallen into terrible ruin, the Sun now has a new lease on life, thanks to a full restoration. What’s even better: the newly renovated theatre is now fully accessible to the Grand Center Arts Academy, a grade 6-12 performance-based school, which uses the Sun’s space for performances, classes and rehearsals. The building’s history is now helping to inform and educate a new generation of theatre artists. 

Read more: Renovation as Education


Seasoned vocal coaches weigh in with their tips for preparing your voice for auditions— and keeping it in shapeSeasoned vocal coaches weigh in with their tips for preparing your voice for auditions— and keeping it in shape

It’s summer, and you’ve got some significant downtime this month before that big slate of auditions coming up this fall. So you’ve been drinking a little extra beer, skipping a good night’s sleep in favor some fun, and yes, sneaking a cigarette here and there. No harm, no foul? Not as far as maintaining your voice is concerned. Even when you’re not actively working as an actor, it’s imperative that you treat this very important instrument as well as you possibly can—and that means actively honing, and protecting, your vocal cords each and every day. Read on for some excellent tips from two of the most respected vocal coaches/performers in the business—and start implementing their sage advice today, so your voice is in tip-top shape come fall.  

Read more: Getting Your Voice In Audition Shape

Light On The Subject

RDM-compatible products on display at a tradeshow
RDM-compatible products on display at a tradeshow
RDM gets DMX completely backwards—and that’s a good thing, as it allows for bi-directional communications with devices

MX. Isn’t it wonderful? Plug in a cable to your console and 512 channels of data are available! 512 unique channels—that’s huge! All of this data flows across a simple twin core, shielded cable … But what if that cable could do even more for you? What if, for example, it could tell you what wasn’t working in your rig, before you even hit GO on the first cue? Did you ever forget to set a DMX address before rigging a fixture? Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could just hit a button and fix it without having to pull a ladder out? Ever wish you could monitor the lighting rig to know when your lamps are getting close to their specified hours? What if I told you that all of these are possible, today, using equipment you might already own? Enter RDM. 

Read more: Putting Up with Backtalk

Answer Box

Carpet, glued to muslin that was glued to the Styrofoam, was painted to look more like earth, then covered with sand and found objects.
Carpet, glued to muslin that was glued to the Styrofoam, was painted to look more like earth, then covered with sand and found objects.
One team built a beach that was big enough for the stage, but small on sand

Dorset Theatre Festival’s recent premiere of Leslie Ayvazian’s new play Out of the City takes place primarily in an inn in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania; however, two scenes occur on a lakeside beach some distance from the inn. The design called for a detailed box set representing the lobby of the inn, but during the lakeside scene the upstage wall tracked open to reveal a sky-blue cyc and a hanging pine bough, while the action was played on the apron of the stage, designed to look like the rocky-sand shore of a lake in Pennsylvania.

Read more: A Set Built on Sand

Sound Design

The mobsters of Bullets Over Broadway
The mobsters of Bullets Over Broadway
Carin Ford never stops working at FOH for Bullets Over Broadway

Even though she knows it won’t last past summer, sound mixer Carin Ford loves manning the board of the Tony Award-nominated musical Bullets Over Broadway. “I really enjoy the music because I grew up listening to and playing jazz,” says Ford, who, like her father, has played saxophone. “I love the music. I can really relate to it and can get into the mix of it. I love working with this cast. We have a great band and a great cast. I haven’t been with a good ensemble like this in awhile. I really enjoy the show, and I think Susan Stroman did great work with it. That one tap number with the gangsters (“‘Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do”) is off the chain.”

Read more: Dodging Bullets

Off the Shelf

Women’s Comedic Monologues that are Actually Funny
Women’s Comedic Monologues that are Actually Funny
Ideas and guidance for actors and directors

Monologues and Scenes

“This book was conceived because I know a lot of funny people,” writes author Alisha Gaddis. “People who make a living from being funny. They have performed these pieces and I laughed at them.” She’s speaking of her new book, Women’s Comedic Monologues that are Actually Funny, a collection of 60 pieces by writers and comics whose work has been seen on television and comedy clubs.  And yes, they’re funny. [Applause Theatre & Cinema Books]

The underlying concept of Micha Espinosa’s Monologues for Latino/a Actors is that performers can do their best work if they truly understand the point of view of the piece. (Hopefully, the person doing the casting understands that point of view, too.)  Each monologue includes a summary of the idea behind the scene, and a description of the solo character. [Smith and Kraus]

Read more: Playing by the Book

Company 411

Erich Friend in front of the Xiong Foxi  Arts Building
Erich Friend in front of the Xiong Foxi Arts Building
Erich Friend, owner and principal consultant of Teqniqal Systems, a professional theatre consulting firm, has been a technical theatre geek from way-back. Time as a roadie, system designer, installer and consultant provides him with a broad base of hard won, practical knowledge that informs his consultancy. 

Read more: Teqniqal Systems

TD Talk

A rendering of the new Rockefeller Arts Center under construction at SUNY Fredonia.
A rendering of the new Rockefeller Arts Center under construction at SUNY Fredonia.
Tips on building or renovating your space—from the eyes of someone going through it

It’s a pretty exciting time here at SUNY Fredonia, where we have begun construction on the addition to our Rockefeller Arts Center, scheduled for completion in 2016. We are getting several new support spaces and a dance studio that doubles as a performance space. This is the third time in my career I have been involved with a project for building a new space or renovating an old one. The process can be challenging, frustrating and rewarding all at the same time. The more you know about the process the better equipped you’ll be to handle challenges that may arise.  This is the first in a series of articles on the process of renovating or building a new facility from the point of view of the end user. (With a little advice thrown in from consultants now and then—because you’ll be getting a lot of advice from consultants during this process.) Naturally, this will be generalized somewhat, and the actual process may be different for you based on the size and scope of your project. 

Read more: Demystifying the Process

Editor's Note

Jacob Coakley
Jacob Coakley
Schools, scripts, interviews and everywhere else—better art comes from deeper understanding

I just spent a month studying David Mamet. Not officially, and not even by intent. My wife was recently in a production of Mamet’s Boston Marriage and I was drafted to run lines with her. Like all of Mamet’s work the play is combative, dense with emotional shifts and manipulation, and sparse in guidance. All the information you need for the play is contained in the script, but you have to work to ferret it out.

Read more: Education Is Where You Find It

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