Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring One-Acts at UNC

Hello, to all of you!

I'm writing to you just off of a rather hellish week, one which I plan to describe in detail. But first, some enjoyable stuff!

I'll be traveling with family to the UK early this summer. We've made plans to visit the West End, basically England's Broadway, and catch a performance of Wicked. No biggie, right?

No, but, like, seriously, I'm immensely excited for that.

I'm also nearly finished with school! Just one more week of classes and another of finals, and then I can take a break! (And by break, I mean working full-time and taking online classes. No rest for the wicked, eh?)

Now, for the hell which I've dealt with for the past week.

As you know from my earlier posts, I was given the task of being the Production Manager for the Spring One-Acts, something I was both looking forward to and scared of. For the past couple months, I've played a rather small role, simply communicating with the Stage Managers to make sure all was well on their end and gathering information such as floor plans and rehearsal reports. It wasn't until this past Monday that I took on a dominant role. Or... would have.

You see, the instructor for the directing class that directs the One-Acts has what he calls a "Type A" personality, but what most would consider an "unparalleled control freak" personality. During the first night that I was supposed to be in charge, he sat in at the rehearsals, which wasn't that big of a deal to me. However, from the start of the day, he was asking me questions that I couldn't have the answers to, wanting things I never had, expecting all this stuff from me that couldn't be expected. He nearly flipped out when he realized I didn't have a master key for the building; I ended up running around campus to borrow one for the day.

Come Tuesday, I had a master key for the building, but the teacher still barraged me with questions and expectations. However, it wasn't until Wednesday, our dress rehearsal, that I truly came to loathe him.

Just as directors need to trust the Stage Managers to run the shows once it comes to performances, I needed him to hand the productions over to me and let me run them. And he wouldn't. He questioned everything, had to know that every exact detail was being performed to his liking. And he treated me, and the stage managers, and the light and sound board operators, as if we were children. He felt it necessary to show me how you can tell if a door is locked or unlocked (for those curious, the pull bar is pushed in when locked, and out when unlocked), just because the button to operate the lock is finicky.

And I had to deal with this same controlling behavior for every, single, performance. Constantly running every aspect of the performances, reducing me to nothing more than a stagehand.

I have gone months with absolutely no friendly human contact. I've dealt with heartbreak, agony, and loss. But that was the longest week of my life. If I never have to work with that man again, it will still be too soon.

That being said, I am glad to have worked with so many wonderful stage managers. And it was an overall worthwhile experience, if only for the camaraderie it built between us.

Hopefully, my next post won't be so depressing. We can always hope, right?

Until next time!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Moving to tumblr!

Hey, all!

I've decided to move this blog over to tumblr to reach a much broader audience. I'll still be posting here, but I'll be copying this blog's past postings over and adding my new ones. It'll be on tumblr, at .

Have a good night! (Or day! As it turns out, many of my views come from across the pond. Who knew I'd be big in Germany? ;) until next time!)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fall Auditions

Well, this past week, I was made aware of auditions for the first two shows of the fall semester. They both looked very interesting; one the Shakespearean classic As You Like It set in the 1950s, the other a retelling of the parable of Solomon called Caucasian Chalk Circle. I haven't auditioned for a show since high school, so I was understandably nervous about the idea of trying out. However, after gathering the opinions of others and building my own, I went over to the sign-up sheet the day before auditions began, and put myself down on the list for Wednesday, at 9:39 p.m.

I think that, more than anything, the final deciding factor was to prove to myself that I could still perform. Even if I don't happen to get a part in either show (there were well over 150 people who auditioned), I know that I can still put myself out there, despite the length of time I've gone without a true performance.

Callbacks are posted today, and the cast lists will be out by next week. Stay tuned!

P.S. One Acts start this coming Monday. I'll do my best to keep you updated on that!

Friday, April 5, 2013

One Month to Go!

I've got a few minutes before work, so I thought I'd let all three of you know how the last few weeks have been.

The One Acts are now in full swing - I've been organizing the shows alongside the Stage Management teacher, getting lists for the different sets and props. It's been crazy, working on it between my paid work and schoolwork, but it's been a great opportunity. The performances will be taking place here at the end of April.

The rest of my classes are going pretty well. Costume Design's got me researching military outfits of the late 1700's, Stage Speech has me performing a monologue next week, and in IP, we just finished up the props for Frog and Toad.

We're into the final month of school! Here's where it gets interesting.

Monday, March 4, 2013

January and February in Review: Catch-up Complete

After a very nice Christmas break, I headed on back to UNC for the second half of my sophomore year with a full load in front of me. Aside from one LAC and another run of IP, I’m taking Stage Speech, Costume Design, and Stage Management. And man, have I been having a whole lot of fun.

I’ve had a lot of firsts this semester, namely in meeting some of the people integral to the theatre department. My Stage Speech class is taught by Shelly Gaza, a specialist in voice, speech, and acting. Up to this point, we’ve learned some wonderful voice exercises, as well as proper breathing techniques. We’re currently working on Shakespearean sonnets that we’ll soon be performing. I’ve been able to put my new skills to practical use, as well – my last doctor’s appointment showed great improvement in my breathing, and I can’t help but think that this class has helped somewhat.

Costume Design has been my first true foray into the world of design. Run by Anne Toewe, the head of the Theatre Design and Technology program at UNC, it’s given me a significant challenge. Aside from learning some basic drawing techniques (which I certainly needed), we’ve already read two scripts, the classic The Man who Came to Dinner and the modern play Spinning Into Butter. I was tasked with creating a very descriptive French scene and research binder for the first; the second is the subject of our current project, a costume collage. We also have to write analyses for each mainstage show. It’s been a constant challenge for me, but I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s my only class on Tuesdays and Thursdays; entirely worth the long drive to Greeley.

Now we come to Stage Management, headed by J. David Blatt, a master scenic designer and general design aficionado. Each class, we’ve focused on a different aspect of stage management: the essentials of being a stage manager, coordinating with the different designers and shops, running rehearsals, etc. However, our class is also in charge of running the One-Act plays put on by UNC. We’re the stage managers. Now, due to the size of our class, there was no way that we could all be stage managers; no one-act play should ever require three SM’s. Instead, a few students were assistant stage managers for the mainstage shows, and two were chosen as house managers, tasked with running the lobby during performances. That left nine of us, eight of which were paired up and are working as dual SM’s with the four one-acts. That only left me. What’s a guy to do?

Well, with a recommendation from Anne (see: head of Design and Technology), J. David gave me the position of Production Manager. I’m in charge of making sure the entire show runs smoothly. That means keeping track of props, scene changes, interludes between the shows, coordinating between all the SM’s, everything. This is the first real job I’ve had in theatre.

And as terrified as I am, I’m loving it.

(I think I'm finally caught up! Thanks to anyone who's stayed around to read - I promise to try and post regular updates now. Until next time!)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fall 2012: A Semester in Review

Wow. Have I been gone long enough?

To say life's been crazy would be an understatement.

I finalized transferring to the University of Northern Colorado over the summer. This past fall, along with a few general-education classes, I had the chance to take Theatre Management, Introduction to Technology, and Individual Performance in Theatre.

In Theatre Management, I learned the basics of running a theatre, both in the logistical and legal sense. We took on two different projects over the semester; for the first one, four of my classmates and I were put in charge of the publicity for one of UNC's mainstage productions, Parade. For the second project, we were again split up in groups, this time to create a fake theatre company from the ground up. We had to create a season lineup, secure a location and funding, and build a list of workers. Both projects were very difficult and took a lot of work, but they were great experience.

Intro. to Tech. gave me a good overview of all the design areas in theatre. Our group started off in the carpentry shop, where we spent our first three weeks learning all of the tools (there are much more than you probably realize). At the end of the three weeks, we built a simple doorstop using certain tools around the shop. After our test, we moved on to the lighting portion of the class. We learned some of the lighting basics, like hanging and focusing lights. We put together a simple light plot, then got to hang the lights for said light plot as part of our final. Another test, and we were off to the properties shop, where we made fish and experimented with plaster. The final  area was costumes, where we learned some basic sewing techniques, stressed some of the costumes for an upcoming show, and sewed our own little designs on a piece of felt. It was all a very fun, informative overview.

Now, Individual Performance (IP) basically gives students a chance to participate in the season's shows for credit. Students can work in the shops, be a part of run crew, help out in the lobby, or any combination. I chose to work exclusively in the properties shop. I got to transport 200-lb. columns across town for The Waiting Room, tied several hundred knots to simulate willow-tree leaves for Parade, and built crossbows for Queen Lear. It was a lot of hard work, and some occasional pain (I cut myself up pretty bad at least twice), but I had a blast. By the end of it, I had a wealth of experience under my belt, and a greater hunger for the art.

When classes ended within the first few weeks of December, I already had next semester's classes planned out.

To be continued... soon!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Props and Transferring

Well, I'm back!

I realize it's been months since I last posted. I've gone past some pretty major holidays, but honestly, there hasn't been anything theatre-related to share. But no longer!

As you know from my past few posts, I am currently at the University of South Dakota, studying Theatre. We recently just finished something that I believe needs to be shared: our performance of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street!

Those songs are gonna be in my head for weeks.

At first, I'd hoped to audition for Sweeney Todd, and after seeing it, I wish I had. However, at the time of tryouts, life was just too busy for me. So, tryouts came and went, and it looked like I had no chance to participace in the show. And I most likely wouldn't have, if not for one of my mandatory theatre classes, Practicum. Each theatre student, regardless of their specialization, is required to spend four semesters assisting backstage for shows, either through work or helping run a show. After finding an undiscovered passion in props (back during God of Carnage), I decided to spend my hours working in the prop department. Two months ago, I went in to talk to Professor Tim Case, the Scenic and Properties Designer for USD.

When I first started working, we were still working on a show at the tail end of its production, Coyote on a Fence. I helped to paint a majority of the set, and Tim taught me some cool tricks. It was performed just a few weeks later, and it was very well-done.

Soon after, we started working on Sweeney Todd, and I was still painting sets for the most part. But eventually, I got my first job in props, and probably my biggest job, as well. Tim gave me the job of building Mrs. Lovett's harmonium. The entire build process is on my other blog. The finished piece is heavily detailed--Mrs. Lovett got it very cheaply after the chapel burned down.

Aside from the harmonium, I was able to work on a number of smaller pieces. I worked on Pirelli's sign, as well as his "miracle elixir."

I also helped to sew (and blood-proof) Sweeney's barber cloths:

One of the cooler props I helped with were birdcages. I glued in fake birds and stands, and they looked pretty awesome!

And the white birdie in the top cage?

He's such a cutie, huh?

He gets his neck snapped. I made that possible!

By the end of it, we had a very full prop closet:

I was also able to work on some furniture, like these benches:

Tim taught me some amazing skills! Check out the texturing on these:

Anyway, the time finally came for the show, and while I don't have any shots of the production in action (no cameras allowed, unfortunately), I was able to get one of the full set:

Needless to say, the show was amazing. The cast did an amazing job and everything looked amazing. Due to my work behind the scenes, I was listed as the Assistant Properties Supervisor, second only to Tim himself.

Now, to reference the second part of my title, I have some news. After much consideration, I have decided to transfer to the University of Northern Colorado, and will be going there this fall. This decision was made in February, before I truly got involved in the Teatre program here at USD, and found out that they're performing Rent next April. Although I will miss the people here, I still stand by my decision. The next play I help out with will be in Colorado.

Until next you hear from me: be safe, do what you love, and love what you do.