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Your patrons spend a lot of time in your seats, they deserve the very best—and giving them the best has never been easier
When an audience member walks into a traditional proscenium theatre the two things they’ll notice most immediately are the front curtain and the seats. Of the two, they’ll be spending the most time with the seats.
Temporarily transforming your space into a striking theatre-in-the-round
Theatre-in-the-round has always offered directors the chance to stretch their staging imaginations in diverse new directions. Add to that the fresh challenge a circular set-up presents to an actor’s technical performance skill set, and the demands performing in the round makes from designers (calling for creative solutions), and you’ve got a wonderful opportunity to bring your audience something truly different.
The hit musical The Bodyguard, now running at London’s Adelphi Theatre, turns the popular 1992 Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner film into a stage musical starring Heather Headley as the superstar singer Rachel Marron and Lloyd Owen as Frank Farmer, the former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard. The fact that the movie featured music including the hit song “I Will Always Love You,” was a bonus for the producers, but the move from film to stage of any story brings its own challenges. For scenic designers, they often need to bring the film’s multiple locations to life on a single stage.
Gregg Nelson and Ron Probst of Wenger Corp. get close to the customer to get closer to perfection
Just because they make temporary staging and seating doesn’t mean the company is. Wenger Corporation has been around for close to 70 years, but is still innovating and developing new and unique products to make putting shows on easier everywhere. We sat down with Ron Probst, a national sales manager at Wenger, and Gregg Nelson, senior market manager, to talk about how they help create custom spaces, and how their company’s longevity and diversity keeps pulling them forward.
A look at how LEDs and traditional color filters can work together
By now, LED luminaires are fairly established as the newest addition to the lighting designers’ toolbox. Manufacturers have been making steady improvements to LED-based fixtures; they’re going beyond the original RGB LEDs and adding Amber and/or White LEDs to expand color mixing. Some have gone even further—Prism Projection has five LED colors and ETC Selador has seven colors. Many lights being produced now mix the colors into a homogenous whole, getting rid of the pixelization that was common in early LED lights where the beam had a tendency to look more like a rainbow of Skittles than a useful beam that mixed well with other sources.
The scene shop at Indiana Repertory Theatre had to solve a problem of trees for a production of The Gospel According to James
One of the most exciting parts of being a scenic artist is the adventure of thinking critically, so you can make things creatively. When a project comes my way that presents some potential problems, my heart revs. I see it as an adventure, not a setback.
In 2012 I was working as the assistant Charge Scenic Artist under charge scenic artist Claire Dana for the Indiana Repertory Theatre. A show was fast approaching by the name of The Gospel According to James, by Charles Smith. The play is a historical fiction about the last lynchings to take place in Indiana and explores the nature of memory in regard to our collective history.
To prepare for this review, I visited Que Audio’s website and found out some interesting facts about the company and its products. First, Que Audio is owned by the Syncrotech Group, which is an Australian-owned group of professional audio companies that has been operating down under for more 30 years.
Newly released books on a variety of theatre topics
From “how-to” to “how it happened,” this month’s books cover a wide range of interests.
Dr. Davidson’s Eye on Theatre Health and Safety is a three-volume set, focusing primarily on issues facing drama instruction and production in public schools—although most of the information applies equally to college and university theatre, community theatre and church performing arts groups. The first volume focuses on the responsibilities of administrators responsible for the overview of the entire program. The second volume targets onstage personnel who handle props, settings, curtains and other production tasks. Volume three covers the areas involved with setting the stage—building and painting sets, hanging lights, the shops and storage required for those activities and the environmental concerns that may arise. While there are checklists and guidelines, this is not exactly a how-to manual. Instead, author Dr. Randall Davidson points out common risks and hazards (including some that aren’t often thought of), as well as ways to reduce these risks. In addition to onstage and backstage risks, he discusses such issues as walkways into the theatre building, public areas like the lobby and restrooms, hazardous wastes and their disposal and proper storage of equipment for its future use. [$149 from Risk International Publishing, www.theatresafetybook.com]
Is schedule 80 pipe better than schedule 40 for pipe battens?
Ask Uncle Bill is a quarterly, recurring column in Stage Directions that wants to answer all your rigging questions. Think of it as a print edition of the “Stump the Rigger” session at USITT. Got a question you want Bill to answer? Email him at email@example.com.
A reader asks…
I’ve been told that schedule 80 pipe is better than schedule 40 for pipe battens. What does schedule 40 & schedule 80 mean? And is schedule 80 really better?
It took a while, but I did manage to change my attitude about giving money away
I won’t lie: When I was in my 20s and working in the theatre, I was dirt poor. The type of poor where even Kraft Macaroni & Cheese was too pricy—it was store brand generic all the way. I’m not complaining (though I did at the time), I’m just stating it as a fact, so you can imagine how I laughed whenever the theatres would start their annual fund drives by asking their employees to give a little back to the theatre.
You can’t escape collaboration in the theatre—even if you wanted to
Long before devised theatre became the rage, collaboration was built into the very bones of theatre. The directors I’ve always heard talked of in hushed tones of awe are invariably those who place a premium on collaboration. I’m not saying great directors don’t use collaboration to a lesser extent at times (I’m sure they’ve all had their autocratic moments), but the idea of collaboration is woven into their work. Even a one-person show needs a crew, and a box office, and a stage.
Mehron has redesigned their Mini Pro Kit for individual makeup applications. The Kits now include four foundation colors to choose from, each color has enough product for seven to 10 applications. There are colors for highlight and shadows and separate colors for cheeks and lips. For application, it includes sponges, full-length pencil and brushes, and to finish it off the Colorset Powder and puff. The Kit is complete with an eight page booklet that instructs basic makeup application for male and female.
The new Spotline hoist from Creative Conners is designed specifically for safe and easy vertical lifting. Powerful and lightweight, Spotline employs a 5-HP SEW Eurodrive gearmotor offering the capability of lifting 500 pounds at 36 inches/second, and a Mayr shaft brake provides redundant braking. The hoist has an aluminum frame and uses an 8-inch grooved aluminum drum for the pick-line. The frame includes 1.5-inch aluminum pipe for easy mounting with cheeseboroughs to either a pipe batten or a box truss.
Elation Professional is now distributing Capture lighting design and documentation software. Capture, developed by Capture Visualization AB in Sweden, is available in Windows and Mac versions, is designed to have a minimal learning curve while allowing designers to work with all elements of their design in real time. Capture features more than 6,000 fixtures in its library, and comes in three versions: Solo, which allows for connection to DMX source, real-time lighting design and visualization, working with layers and scenes, creation of custom gobos, customization of wheel and strings, import/export CSV files, 3D mouse support, full fixture library, LED panel visualization, and free software upgrades; Basic, which includes all features in Solo version, with the additional ability to create and print reports and plots; and the Extended version, which has the additional features of importing DWG, 3DS and OBJ files, exporting DWG files, video from local files, video from CITP media servers, laser animation laser visualization, DMX controlled cameras, DMX controlled scenery, Kinesys K2 controlled scenery and creation of Windows.exe movie presentations of a design.
The Messenger from Trinculo’s Attic is a rack-mount device for interfacing show control systems such as Qlab with projector systems, Crestron, and other serial triggered systems. Instead of changing the show control system when upgrading projectors or other devices, The Messenger can be easily reprogrammed to output the correct command strings.
Sound Ideas has released 16 high-definition specialty sound effects collections on hard drive. Sound Ideas has taken the more than 32,000 sound effects in their General HD and General HD 2 sound effects collections and organized them into 16 distinct specialty collections to meet the specific needs of its clients. All of the sounds on each specialty hard drive were originally recorded at 24 bit/96 kHz. Broadcast wav files are provided in the original 24 bit/96 kHz format as well as in 24 bit/48 kHz, 16 bit/48 kHz, and 16 bit/44.1 kHz formats. Each file contains complete metadata. Files have been subdivided for easier browsing. With categories like transportation separated into five separate collections: Aircraft, Boats & Ships, Cars, Motorcycles and Trucks. In addition to the transportation sound effects hard drives mentioned above, Sound Ideas also created separate hard drives for: Animals & Birds, Around the House, Atmospheres & Environments, Emergency 911, Foley, Human, Industry & the Workplace, Military & Weapons, Musical & Percussion Elements, Science Fiction and Sports.
Apollo Design Technology, Inc.’s new Little Focus 5 Wrench is a closed-end wrench designed to provide easy access to common bolt sizes found in the industry: 3/4", 1/2", and 3/8”. Made from durable stainless steel, the LF5 is a sleek, handy tool for your focusing needs.
The RF-Vue, series, from Kaltman Creations’ Invisible Waves brand, is a line of tablet RF Analyzers. The flagship model is the RF-Vue T10, a 10-inch touchscreen tablet with the full Windows 8 operating system. The RF-Vue T10 covers the standard wireless microphone and IEM frequency range of 470MHz to 700MHz. Additional models are available which offer greater frequency ranges, plus there are standalone RF electronics/software modules for use with user-supplied computers or tablets.
Point Source Audio will debut its entire line of Series8 omnidirectional (CO-8) and cardioid (CR-8) headset, earworn and lavalier microphones at the Point Source Audio Booth 1426 during Infocomm 2013 in Orlando, Florida. Series8 microphones are designed to be a high-caliber collection of miniature microphones, resilient against boom breakage and moisture, and easy to service with “X-Connectors.”
At the USITT trade show in Milwaukee, J.R. Clancy will introduce the latest member of their SceneControl 5000 StageAutomation Control System, the SceneControl 5300. Designed to be a compact, mid-level operator console, the SceneControl 5300 can serve as the main operator interface as well as a localized backstage console. The SC5300 has a 15.1” capacitive touch screen, which provides an intuitive, easy to use interface and has the capability to create exciting scene changes and dramatic visuals for any performance in any venue. It also has password-protected access levels keep unauthorized users out of the system, while offsite secure access allows Clancy to perform remote diagnostics. Error checks are continuously performed and alarms, actions, and faults are logically recorded and stored in LOG files for diagnostics. The SC5300 also allows technical directors and production managers to choose the safety level and redundancies that suit their venues and budget, including independently reviewed and certified SIL-3 safety systems.
The Behringer ultra-compact B1200D 500-Watt active subwoofer is the newest member of its Eurolive family. Based on Behringer’s B1500D-PRO and B1800D-PRO models, the B1200D is designed for small to mid-sized venues who want to add bottom-end to existing full-range speaker systems via a more compact, easy to transport subwoofer. Powered by a 500-Watt Class-D amplifier with comprehensive LF extension, thermal and clip limit protection, the B1200D features a high-efficiency, Class-D amplifier. A built-in active stereo crossover provides high-pass filtered outputs for full-range loudspeakers and an internal limiter provides woofer protection. The B1200D features balanced XLR inputs and outputs, as well as balanced XLR Thru jacks for connecting additional enclosures. A Boost Frequency knob lets the user select any frequency from 45 - 90 Hz. Then, much like a “mini-parametric EQ,” engaging the Boost switch augments the selected frequency by +10 dB.
City Theatrical’s DMX D2 and D4 Dimmers are designed to provide a tiny, but powerful and affordable, way to control LED tape, LED specials or low-voltage incandescent fixtures. The dimmers are available as a two-channel (D2) or 4-channel (D4) version, with either an integrated SHoW DMX Neo Wireless DMX Receiver or a wired DMX input. They use City Theatrical’s SHoW DMX Neo 2.4GHz Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) Radio (Wireless version) to wirelessly receive and output a full Universe (512 slots) of DMX with 7mS latency. They also have RDM proxy and responder functions. The wireless version also include have a 2dBi Omni-directional flexible cable antenna. They also have 3P Screw Terminals for DMX Out. The wired versions of the dimmers include 3P Screw Terminals for DMX In.
ETC’s Eos Titanium (Ti – pronounced “tee-EYE”) control desk is the latest in the company’s Eos family of lighting control systems. Incorporating hardware adapted from the company’s Gio console, including multitouch displays, backlit keys and an anodized finish, Ti takes the place of ETC’s flagship Eos desk at the head of the company’s product line. Ti also features a larger multitouch encoder display and dedicated pan and tilt encoders along with four pageable encoders, which promise to make designing and programming even easier. ETC has also introduced two new accessories: the RPU3 (Eos Remote Processor Unit 3) and Net3 RVI3 (Remote Video Interface 3), along with new Eos v2.0 software.
Rosco’s myColor web tool offers a searchable index of all the gel filters Rosco sells, including Roscolux, Supergel, Cinegel, E-Colour+, and Permacolor products. Users of the online tool can also create online profiles to help keep track of frequently-used colors and products via myPalette and myShow. The “Color Data” section also lets users view production photos where a particular color was used — or submit their own.