I settled into Milwaukee with a tour of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater led by production manager Melissa Nyari Vartanian. The Theater is located downtown and has three separate performance spaces: the Quadracci Powerhouse (720 seats), the Stiemke Studio (205 seats) and the Stackner Cabaret (118 seats), which is also a full-service, restaurant and bar. The theater began in 1954 but moved into its current home across from Milwaukee’s City Hall in 1987. The building was previously a power plant, hence the name of its largest theater space. The building houses all of the production and administration spaces as well. As I walked through the building I was intrigued by the visual history still in place, bricks covered with porcelain glaze cracked and aged stretching around massive windows overlooking the river. Old instruments of the power plant are on display and footprints of its larger elements are still visible throughout the levels of the building.
After a day off I met my new coworkers and helped with notes for Clybourne Park in the Powerhouse. The team, minus Kira, consists of Charge Scenic Artist Jim Medved, Lead Scenic Artist Shannon Mann, and full time Paint Intern Shannon Meyer. I was harboring a minimum amount of apprehension about meeting the crew but that departed almost instantly as I was met with warmth, respect and a bunch of shared sensibilities. Jim has worked at the Rep for 16 years and Shannon for 13 and I am already realizing how much I am going to learn from them. I look forward to getting into the next show "Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash" and learning the tricks of the trade that have evolved within this fun and accomplished paint shop.