Theatre Thursday

Family Matters – a Play 

 Once again I have been ask to design and paint a set for my friend Robert and his students at Howard Street Middle School.  This show is called Family Matters.  All he needed was a back drop that he wanted to look like the front of a huge family album or scrapbook and a giant book… with pages that turn.

The backdrop was a piece of cake.  I just used the flats I have used for him in the past.  I took them to my friend Jeff’s school and used them to help teach his tech student a different paint technique.

After painting the 6 flats white, as a base coat and then yellow, as my main color, I taught the students the art of spattering.  Most of the students at least tried it.  However, most of them complained that they had to work.  Although we had warned them that spattering was a mess job, most of them came unprepared to throw paint around.  Still, a few of them actually got pretty good at the art of spattering.

I have to say, if my kid wasn’t in the class and if their teacher wasn’t one of my best friends, I wouldn’t bother going down to the high school again.  These students are rude.  They really don’t want to learn.  They don’t value the opportunities that they have with the free educational system of this country.

On Friday, a couple of these students got under my skin.  They were complaining because I was trying to help them grade their set model assignments   While complaining they were bullying Hannah because she had put in a good effort with her model.  They even had the gall to insinuate that I did Hannah’s assignment for her.  When I called them on it, one girl whipped around and said something to the effect that I should have anything to say because I wasn’t a real teacher and shouldn’t be there.  That was it.  I lit into her.

These students are wasting my tax dollars.  They treat their teacher like crap.  They treat fellow students like crap.  They don’t do assignments   Yet they expect good grades.  They expect high paying jobs.  They expect privileges   I will not be giving any of those students recommendations.  I will not be recommending them for jobs at the high school regarding rentals.  I will not be “teaching” them anything again.  And I decided to finish my sets myself.

Sadly, I can see that I am wasting my time, my education, and my experience on these students.  I will teach my kids.  I will allow students that want to learn to work with me.  However, class time may be done for this year.  These kids don’t deserve that wonderful space.  They don’t deserve the dedicated teacher they have.  And they certainly don’t deserve my time any more.  So, the rest of this set was built and painted in my garage.

These kids are also careless.  Good thing flats float.

After learning splattering we drew designs onto the flat to make it a giant family scrapbook.  I really appreciate one student, Shylie, who is trying to develop her artist skills.  She did a great job.  The class then painted it all in.

Eventually we finished.  And I haven’t gone back.

We got started on the book at my house.  To complicate things, I had abdominal surgery and couldn’t do much but rely on the tender mercies of my sweet daughter and my friends.

I looked high and low for something to make a giant book with turning pages.  I saw all kinds great poster board type papers and even foam core at art stores.  But I couldn’t get them in 4×8 sheets and they cost $13-20 a sheet.  Cardboard is not my favorite medium, however, it is affordable.  It took me weeks to find someone willing to sell me a minimum of 15 4×8 sheets of cardboard.

I had my crew tape the edges to seal the cardboard sheets.  Then we primed both sides so that the cardboard would lay flat and so that we would be able to use paint more sparingly.  It was a bit of a zoo because it takes a long time to dry two side of paint.  I had only been home from surgery for 3 days, so I wasn’t up for much.  My dear freinds came and helped and my daughter worked all day.  meanwhile,more than a dozen kids, three dogs, and two cats played around them or in the house.  It was chaos.

Next we taped two sheets of the painted cardboard together in sets.  We then took that opportunity to paint the base color of those pages.  Once again we needed to wait and wait for the pages to dry.  Once they we dry we could fold them and tape the next pages into a book.  We layered tape on the “binding” to make the book stronger.

Our 15 page book was about 5-6 inches thick.  At first we used 2 inch wide masking tape because we thought Duck Tape wouldn’t take the paint.  Eventually, I realized I would need something stronger.  In the end, after all the painting was done, we taped the binding with Duct Tape for added strength.

This really was a big project.  The binding alone, was something that took some thought.  Sure hope it holds.  🙂

Then we painted the base color for the rest of the pages.

Eventually, we were ready for lettering.  My friend was willing to get on the ground and draw out the lettering.  That was nice.  She writes better than I do.  I wanted to save time, so I found some wall stickers and colored Duct tape to make the scrapbook pages look more “scrappy happy.”

We started that project on my back deck, but the day got too hot and we eventually had to cover my family room carpet with plastic and move all my furniture around so that we could move the whole thing in doors.

We used fans to dry things faster… since you can’t move on until things are completely dry.  We used wax paper between the pages to keep the paint from sticking too badly and ruining our – or rather- their hard work.

We even pulled out the blow drier… hey!  It was getting late!
The Duct Tape decor was genius!  Not only did it help me get cute pages, it helped to strengthen the pages.

Eventually, we were able to stand it upright.  My friend John started a giant easel and my sweet husband finished it for me.

We practiced turning the pages…

And it worked!!!  I am so blessed with great friends and family that helped me on this set.  I won’t get to see it all put together with the kids using it.  Hopefully, my friend Robert will take a picture for me.  Meanwhile, one more set out the door this year.

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