Theatre Thursday

CET 2015 

This year I was given the assignment to create a new “Arch” for CET.  The old one had become quite dangerous.  It was heavy.  It was hard to store.  It was broken beyond decent repair.  I needed to create something that was cheap, easy to store, easy to repair and fit the personality of CET.

I actually found my inspiration on Pinterest.

I had two donated PVC pipe tree things.  I decided to start with that and made fluted columns using pool noodles.  It was harder than I expected… let’s just say that pool noodles resist liquid nails.

With the help of a parent volunteer, her kids, and Lilli, I eventually won.  We had to use tape to hold the split noodles in place until the Liquid Nails dried.  It took a couple of days to get it all to cooperate.  When I started, I thought I would do the whole length of the pipe.  However, I quickly changed my tune after getting one set done.  There was no way I wanted to go to the top.
 I found this clever idea to make banisters using soda bottles.  I wanted them a little stronger, so I put a dowel through the bottles and secured it to the top and bottom of my rails.  My friend, John Hatch, then helped me come up with an clever way to attach the rails to the columns.
Then commenced the painting… lots and lots of spray paint to get a real nice marble finish.
We fashioned gate hinges to fit around the columns and onto the rails to that they could come apart yet be a stable connection.
I got some copper tubing in the plumbing section of the hardware store and John helped me shape it.  We drilled holes into the columns and used locking caps to keep them secure
Then, we attached CET to our copper pipes…
… and decorated the whole thing with green vines.
My friend, Dani Potter, made some theater masks that I attached to the columns once we got the whole thing on sight.
It turned out great!  My only issue with it was that the pool noodles did not hold the spray paint well.  It will need a ton of touch up next year.  Easy enough to do, but a pain all the same.
The park play this year was “Jabberwalky
The director wanted 4- 3 sided towers with different paintings on each side.
I was able to do most of this set from stock… but I did need to build 6 flats, assemble the towers, and paint all the murals.
Sorry, this one is blurry.  One side of the towers was words from the story, one side was a town and one side was scary trees.
The directors were lucky.  I was done with this set before the end of week 2 which gave them plenty of time to work with all the pieces.  The props and costumes people worked together to come up with some awesome puppets too!  Eventually, the show packed up and went out to the middle of Bush Park for the Arts Fair.  The tech crew carted the the pieces to a storage space at the Art Fair and to the stage for each performance in the park.
I was able to recycle the backdrop I painted earlier in the spring for the production of Fractured at Howard Street Charter School for the travelling show, Princess Who?  In addition, I was able to use blocks and a table from stock, and a rolling stair unit I had in stock.  All I needed to do was paint the blocks, table, and stairs black, find a spinning wheel, and build a stump and a log.  A friend loaned me a spinning wheel and allowed me to paint it black.  My Advanced Construction class built the stump and the log. The painting class painted them black.  We were done in a week and were ready for the show’s rehearsals.
The show then hit the road and performed at The Gilbert House… The Boys and Girls Club of Salem…
McKinley Elementary School… (favorite story from that location was a little boy needing to pee and misunderstanding the tech TA and just running outside and peeing on the side of the building.  Bwahahaha).
I think the hardest place they performed was the middle of the park where they had to battle heat, a passing train, and a large space where barely anyone could hear them….
and the wind…
… the crew needed to hold the set down… literally.
I’m glad I got to use that painting again.  It was so pretty I didn’t want to see it covered just yet.
 The library show was Charlotte’s Web this year.  It is hard to design for the library because the floor is slick and shiny… the space is small… the lighting is yucky… and it has to get on a truck and arrive in one piece.  So much easier said than done.  My first issue was how to get a free standing double-sided wall that was 8 foot by 8 foot.  My idea was to build a leg structure within the flats.  However, a parent (well meaning and with tons of reported experience) disagreed with me.  He came up with this idea to hinge the flats to a piece of 4×8 plywood.  That worked.  They stood… but they weren’t going through any doors.
He then introduced me to coffin locks.  These things are great inventions and I will definitely use them again!  So he ripped apart the wall, cut the plywood in two, built in the coffin locks and re-attached the wall to the plywood with the double-sided hinges.  It seemed to work ok.  The wall stood.  There wasn’t much to trip on.  We were able to get the kitchen painted on one side and a country fair scene painted on the other side.  The trouble came when we got to the library.  The moving committee used the wrong size screws… and screwed it to the floor… oops.  This created two problems… first, the thing was far to heavy for the tech kids to turn it around… and second, it put holes and unsightly scratches in the floor.  My awesome tech TA saved the day.  He stopped the crew as soon as he realized the issue.  He also stayed with me while I stayed late to fix the problem.  We were able to refinish the scratched areas and I went to a modified version of my original idea… sigh… I do know what I’m doing.  I just need more courage to fight with pushy parents.  🙂
This set came with a few messes in Tech Hall as well… seriously, how many full gallons of paint did we need to spill this year?  At least I covered the entire hall in plastic and tarps.  We had some paint on the floor when we pulled them up at the end of the season, but it wasn’t bad considering…
The coffin locks on the barn made it real easy to travel and stand up at the library.
I wanted to up-cycle old furniture for a kitchen.  A parent had just what I wanted, made all the adjustments and brought it to me ready to paint.  Various people worked on it.  It turned out super cute.  I loved it, along with the chairs we got that a parent painted for me.  After the show they were all sold at auction.  I think I will have to do this for my grand-daughters in the years to come.  Other issues this show had: although I went to the library to check out sound and lights several weeks earlier, the sound didn’t play nice with our equipment.  Although the spotlight tested fine before the rehearsal, the lamp burned out by the time it was needed, and as usual, there was not enough time to get the crew fully trained in the 15 minutes I had before I had to rush around looking for a new spot lamp, new sound parts, and floor repair materials.
This year I was responsible for the high school level show (something I was not responsible for in previous years).  Usually, the students are to build and collect all their own set and props and costumes.  Because my friend Robert was the director and needed to use the time in 1st period to do administration stuff, he sent the cast to me.  I guided them along (strongly) to use blocks to spell out School House Rock and to make cardboard cutouts of School House characters.
It turned out great!
I was amazed by some of the artists in the group.  They free handed those cutouts.
My next show was Honk on the South Salem

High School stage.  I have designed this set before, but this time I got to go much BIGGER.  I recycled the tree from Oklahoma! (at Central High School) to make a new proscenium look.  I made some different levels with stairs and platform we had in stock and I made giant cattails from insulation board. (I would have gone with cardboard but my cardboard didn’t get in until the cattails were done).  I used the eggs we made for the Central production too.

The kids in my scene painting class learned different paint wet mix techniques and painted all the cattails and grass.  I also taught them to use sponge rollers to get a great look on the floor.
In all… I think this was my favorite set of the season.  It was just so pretty to look at.  It was super functional.  And I was able to re-use the barn from the library show as a nice added bonus.  For this show we spent some money fixing the lighting instruments for South Salem High School as well.  I tried very hard to teach everyone that a person must leave a space better then they got it.  It is for these reasons that CET is able to come back year after year… because we care about the space and appreciate the sacrifices of those who allow us to use them.
My last 3 shows are little one acts done by the beginners.  For these shows I just dust off the curtains I made a few years ago.  I did discover that I need to add to them next year.  I also had the tech classes help with a couple props for these shows, but for the most part, they are self sufficient.  And then my very last event is the final Fine Arts Night where each of the classes have the opportunity to show what they can do.  Once again, I dust off banners I made a few years ago and added a few balloons.  It’s simple, but it does bring the total shows I was responsible for tech for this year to a grand total of 9.  No wonder I was tired at the end of the season!!
In years past we took the tech kids on a field trip on audition day.  This year we tried something new.  Tech Boot Camp.  I think it was a success.  We rotated the tech kids through little 15 minute stations and taught them the basics of spotlights, the light board, the sound board, backstage, tools, paint, and safety.  I also used marshmallows and toothpicks to have them build something as a team building activity.  We only had one comment that someone wanted the field trip to return, but I see the wisdom in keeping this new way because the kids were much better prepared to handle assignments through out CET.
This year was another great year for paint spills.  One day I was teach class when I got a phone call from Nick (my co-worker whom I had sent to the paint recycle center)… “Wendy? How attached to the towel in the back of your truck are you?”  “What did you do to my truck, Nick?”  I had only had the truck for a couple of months.  I had visions of something very bad.  A lady had cut him off causing him to slam on his brakes.  The paint flew to the front of the bed of the truck and covered the truck in exploded paint.  I wailed!  The whole hall could hear my cries.  In fact, I nearly burst into tears.  But he took my truck to a fancy car detail place and they power washed the truck and it looked like new by the time it came back to me. A few weeks later, a student was getting some paint out of the back of my truck… you guessed it right?  He dropped the whole thing on the parking lot.  The can exploded everywhere… but my truck was spared.  I did have to call the custodian to get a hose out to the spill so we could power wash the parking lot… remember “better than you got it”…
The custodian was on my speed dial.  When we moved into the school our usual cutting areas outside the school were blocked off.  We had to come up with Plan B. Later on, the school had a table refinishing project that smelled up the place and made kids sick.  I had to get his permission to upgrade our storage area… and then there were our messes.  Seriously, I don’t know how people think sometimes.  My favorite call was asking him for extra mops because my TA gave kids too much soap and there was an inch of soap suds down 50 feet of hallway, plus the sink had sprung a leak and there was water everywhere.  My TA thought is was good idea to pour several 5 gallon buckets worth of water down the hall and to mop it up.  Really?  The custodian was cool.  He came down with his machine that sucked up water and all was well with the world.
And in 5 weeks it was over with a bang… and a big mess at Central that I now need to clean up.  Seriously, people have no idea how much stuff I borrow from Central nor just how generous Jeff Witt is… but while everyone is relaxing and vacationing, I will be cleaning up the after math of CET for a few more weeks to come.  Here’s to a great year and an even better year to come!
Originally posted 1st August 2015 by Wendy Boyack on Resigning as the General Manager of the Universe powered by Blogger.

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