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Left-right: Tasso Feldman, Betsy Mugavero, Michael Doherty, Brendan Marshall-Rashid, Kelly Rogers and the doors and windows of Charley’s Aunt at the 2015 Utah Shakespeare Festival. Tips and expert advice for making sure your doors and windows are ready for slamming

Doors and windows, windows and doors. For many plays, they’re a necessity. Knowing how to build them well is an essential tool in any technical director’s repertoire of skills. So how do you do it?

You can think of “doors and windows” as comprising three major elements: the wall surrounding them; the frame/sill; and the actual door or window itself. Getting a door or window to function correctly requires nailing (excuse the pun) all three.

]]> (Rich Dionne) Sets, Scenery and Rigging Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:14:36 -0700
Classicist at Heart

Michael Yeargan’s latest Broadway credit The King and IFor Michael Yeargan, less is more (mostly)

Some scenic designers like to juggle multiple projects at once, but Tony Award winner Michael Yeargan prefers to take them on one at a time. His well-crafted work is familiar to Broadway audiences, for over the last decade he has worked on every one of Tony Award winning director Bartlett Sher’s productions along with a few others. The list is impressive and includes The Light In The Piazza, South Pacific, That Championship Season, The Bridges of Madison County, the current The King and I revival at Lincoln Center, and the forthcoming Fiddler on the Roof this fall. His quality over quantity approach clearly clicks.

]]> (Bryan Reesman) Sets, Scenery and Rigging Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:02:04 -0700
Discovering the Essentials

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang flew at Candlelight Dinner Theatre thanks to hardware and software from Creative Conners. Every theatre’s scenic needs are different, but here’s what every theatre needs to make their own scenery

Just like characters in a play, theatres have needs, too. While TD’s might not spend a lot of time thinking of their theatre’s super-objective, they definitely spend a lot of time thinking about their theatre’s requirements—everything they need to put a stunning show together. We talked to scenic and staging system manufacturers and suppliers to find out what the current essentials were for every theatre. Here’s what they said. 

]]> (Jacob Coakley) Sets, Scenery and Rigging Tue, 01 Sep 2015 17:40:06 -0700
The Keys Are in the Room

Terrence Spivey, artistic director of Karamu House in Cleveland (the oldest black theatre in America) gives portfolio advice to Jessica Drayton, a lighting designer studying at Wright State University as part of the Gateway program at the 2015 USITT conference. A quick look at what’s being done to increase diversity and inclusivity in production

In its January 2012 issue, Stage Directions published the article “Diversity in the Booth: What it’s like being a minority in technical theatre,” which I wrote with Tayneshia Jefferson. I didn’t know at the time that it would be one of the last projects that we would work on together. Tayneshia passed away in July of 2013—leaving a gaping hole not only in my soul, but also the industry. Her work in furthering the efforts in diversity was apparent in her daily work and was felt throughout the theatre world. She was the chair of the People of Color Network for the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) and was set to be the only person of color on the USITT Board of Directors. We often joked about being some of the only people of color in stage or production management in the industry and we dreamed of changing that reality—but in terms of action, she was light years ahead of me. 

]]> (David S. Stewart) Feature Tue, 01 Sep 2015 17:36:58 -0700
Bringing Backdrops To Life

Herrick Goldman lit this backdrop in a production of Bat Boy at Yale University Theatre. Easy, effective lighting techniques that will make your backdrops vibrantly resonant

Backdrops are, in many ways, the chameleons of any given set; you can utilize them in such diverse and visually arresting ways. From a nightscape background to a colorful abstract design, a backdrop can be configured in as many ways as your imagination allows. Bringing a backdrop to truly vivid, moving life, however, may seem a more complex proposition than scenic painting, but it doesn’t have to be. Top backdrop crafters and lighting designers have generously shared their insider secrets for creating movement, depth and effervescent life. 

]]> (Lisa Mulcahy) Feature Tue, 01 Sep 2015 17:17:53 -0700
Breaking Tough Cam-lock Connections

The KRE Cam WrenchCheck out the KRE Cam Wrench, and save yourself from repetitive-stress injuries

Anyone who has dealt with feeder cable and cam-locks a lot knows how hard they can be to take apart at times. When things get tough, many turn to slip joint or vise grip pliers to get some extra leverage, much to the dismay of anyone who next has to use that piece of feeder. Worse, dealing with too many tough cam-locks led many techs to experiencing tennis-elbow or golfers-elbow. 

]]> (David “Squeege” Weigant) Gear Review Tue, 01 Sep 2015 16:44:15 -0700
Decoding a Spec Sheet

Learning the specs of lights means knowing what you’re readingTo know what your light fixture will do, you need to know what you’re reading

Shopping for lights? Trying to figure out what the gear owned by the local rental can do for your show? Researching the various functions of lighting gear today requires careful examination of manufacturers’ specification sheets. Some of the specs are obvious; others, not so much. In the June issue, SD printed a buyer’s guide to strip and cyc lights, and several of the features on those fixtures even surprised some old pros. What do they all mean, and why do we need to know?

]]> (Scott Parker) Light On The Subject Tue, 01 Sep 2015 17:24:29 -0700
3D Elizabethan

The Olivia in Baylor University’s recent Twelfth Night wore a 3D-printed whisk, produced by Joe Kucharski off a design by Sally Askins.The 16th century met the 21st when a costume designer printed a lace whisk

When costume designer Sally Askins wanted to reproduce an extant piece of Elizabethan lace for Baylor University Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night, I decided to forego an “authentic” reproduction and turned to modern technology to execute her vision. Askins’ design for Olivia featured a richly textured textile, paired with pieces of a vintage tunic, combining the elegance of Renaissance gowns with a nod to the Eastern locale of Illyria. This was complemented with a whisk collar to frame the character’s face and truly capture the essence of the era. Having recently acquired a Makerbot Z18 Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printer for the costume shop, I had been experimenting with new applications for the technology. An opportunity to use the rigid property of the PLA plastic to print an all in one lace whisk and underproper was an exciting challenge!

]]> (Joe Kucharski) Answer Box Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:19:59 -0700
Microphone Basics

The cardioid polar pattern for the Shure SM57 dynamic microphoneChoosing microphones for the musical theatre orchestra, part 1

The modern orchestra pit can be as chaotic as a foxhole on a battlefield. Built to offer sanctuary exclusively for musicians, the best of the old-time pits were designed to project acoustically balanced sound up, out, onto the stage and into the house. Those beautiful proscenium arches were more than mere decoration. They were reflectors that captured sound otherwise going straight up, redirecting to where it was needed. Singers were trained to land their voices on the back row. There were no microphones needed.

]]> (Michael Hooker) Sound Design Tue, 01 Sep 2015 17:05:21 -0700
Courtesy Towards Stangers

SD Editor Jacob CoakleyWe're all in this together—except when we're not...

Early in August, Donna Hoke, the western New York regional representative for the Dramatists Guild, wrote a blistering blog post excoriating the submission guidelines of Words Players Theatre, a small youth theatre in Minnesota seeking new plays. The guidelines stated that youth directors at this theatre could modify settings and dialogue and that they would “strive to make each play ‘entertaining’ to our audiences and may modify the scripts, accordingly.” 

]]> (Jacob Coakley) Editor's Note Fri, 28 Aug 2015 20:13:37 -0700