Saturday, March 30, 2013

the building process

Last weekend was the culmination of weeks (and months for the part of the directors) of planning and preparation.  So much energy from so many different people went into making NorthWood's production of Guys & Dolls fantastic.  

My roll of "artistic director" was reprised for this show.  I was very happy with how it turned out.  Watching it go from an idea and thought on paper to there and on the stage was fantastic.  The following is the process of its creation.  

The first step is always a conversation with the director, Steve.  We discuss what he is thinking and what I am thinking.  I process that out in my brain and present a sketch or visual representation.  Inspiration came from black and white photos from the era.  It was also helpful to have had my recent experiences to add a bit of scope to the show.

 I did some sketching in photoshop and made up a little paper packet of what I was thinking.  I passed that along to Steve and he got the shop teacher in on the project.  We were fortune enough to have the technology department and their CNC machine collaborating on this project.

We then scheduled workdays on two weekends of Fridays and Saturdays.  That is the fun and whirlwind part.  One of the most important things is keeping the dozen or so students that come help busy with the right amount of fun.

The latter is usually not a problem.

Dad made his dozens of his famous cinnamon rolls.

There were various lighted signs to create for the show.  That idea was a suggestion from a friend who had watched another school's production.  We interpreted it into our own.  After getting a base of black on the boards I took them home and used the projector to shine some letters for tracing.  At least for most of the signs.

But not this one.  It was too big so I just had to free hand it.  I got the STUDENT written out the first time to realize I skipped a letter.  Oops.  One student spent a few hours getting all the yellow letters perfect.  Then these two students went to town with the drills and drilled lots and lots of holes.

Don't worry - this is posed.  Freshmen aren't allowed to operate power tools, especially not ones with painted on mustaches.

After the holes were drilled they plugged Christmas lights into all the holes.  That took a long time.

Sara held her own with the drill - of course.

Sunday afternoon director Steve spent quite a few hours getting the signs rigged up and had to realign lights that had gone faulty.  It resembled a telephone switch board with about all the frustration.  The bulbs fit so snuggly that when the were removed from the hole quite often they came off of the socket or just broke.

We always put down a false floor that is thin pieces of wood masking taped together.  This show they were painted a gritty grey to be our New York City streets.

The next weekend was floor painting.

Then came putting up the behemoth advertising pillar.  All the words were cut out.  A crew of the director and students spend a Friday evening making sure all the cut out parts of the letters were attached back in by using a plastic sheet and masking taping them back in place.  A very tedious task.

When the signs were lit it was magic.

About half of the crew we started with that morning.  They are just so awesome.

I came to Monday's rehearsal to find that Steve had cut out the skyline and gotten it fixed in place.  It just made it perfect.  There it was my vision in fruition.  And then when the students took the stage.  Divine.

They were ready for opening night.


Katherine Ross said...

Wow, what a fantastic set! Waaay cooler than anything we preformed on back in the day. The lighted signs are perfect and I love the silhouette skyline (of course I do, it's a silhouette!) Totally worth all your hard work!

Lizzie said...

That set is awesome!!! You did such a great job designing it!