Thursday, February 27, 2014

Chris Carpenter at the Shakespeare Theatre

Chris Carpenter is a dyer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She is participating in an A Ha! funded artisan exchange at The Shakespeare Theatre Company of Washington DC.

Greetings from Washington DC, 

It's snowing!


It's beautiful. Here is my little apartment two blocks from the costume shop.

The first thing that hits you upon entering the Shakespeare Theatre's costume shop is the amount of SPACE.  I imagined a shop in an urban area would be very cramped. What a surprise having the freedom to move around without running into anybody. The cutters' tables are huge. Demonstrating this is Julie Rose, a former OSF employee.

And, the dye shop has some very serious gloves; full length and very heat resistant. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mike Hamer at OSF: Week 2

 I have now been in Ashland for two weeks working in the scene shop for OSF.

I continue to work on a few notes as they arise for the shows.  One of the greatest challenges of operating in a repertory schedule is to find the time and opportunity to do set notes. Many of those notes need to be done while the scenery is in its proper place on stage.  However, in a rep schedule, you might have a few precious hours to accomplish some notes in the morning before a rehearsal begins, then there is another rehearsal that often doesn’t end until 11:00 pm or later, and then the set is shifted offstage and another one is shifted on.

I was tasked with constructing some rolling platform wagons for the show Water by the Spoonful.  These are simple platforms constructed from 2x4 and plywood.  Some of these wagons will carry a raked platform, some a projection screen, some both.

In the foreground of this picture is a large platform that will carry a projection screen.  In the background is a raked platform on its rolling wagon:

This is a picture of a projection screen on its rolling wagon.  The projection screen material will be applied along the large angled rectangle:

This is a picture of a ground plan for Water by the Spoonful:

There are 10 large rectangles, some of which are raked platforms; some are shorter platforms that aren’t raked. There will be an LED lighting effect in the platforms.  Nearly 600 holes, about 1” in diameter,  will be covered by small plexiglass discs with an LED underneath to create different light configurations on the floor.

This picture illustrates a method for deadening the sound of people walking on a platform. This is the underside of the platform:

Most sets are insulated with the same kind of fiberglass insulation used in the walls in a house.  This insulation is made of RECYCLED JEANS!!  That is awesome.  Since these platforms are going to be carried and handled during a changeover, it is a much nicer material than fiberglass (but maybe a bit more expensive.)

This is an overall picture of the shop:

You can see how tight the working space is, and how quickly it can get cramped.  I think that everyone is very excited to move to OSF's new scene shop, where they will be able to set up the full set for a show before it goes into the theatre.  Being able to ensure that every piece of a set fits together and works properly, with all the tools and benefits of the shop at hand, before installing it into the theatre is a great advantage. Some people are concerned about not being so close to the theatre complex. The current scene shop is a block away from the theatre, the new shop is about five miles away.. Being able to walk to the shop and get the tool or material that you need to accomplish a note is very convenient.

This is a picture of a bed frame, that was printed ON A 3D PRINTER!!  So awesome!!!

I believe it is for Richard III.  This awesome piece of technology is being used by OSF to create model pieces.  A scenic designer (or maybe assistant designer, or assistant technical director) creates a 3D drawing, and then prints it.  The designer can then paint it accordingly.  The shop also printed some line weights for The Tempest.  They needed to resemble light bulbs that were already part of that scene, so they printed hollow light bulbs and filled them with ball bearings.  I am also told that there is an attachment for the printer, called the “digitizer.” This scans an object, and will then either reprint it or create a drawing of it for manipulation.

The Elizabethan and Bowmer Theatres back up to Lithia Park.  This is a beautiful and lovely park.  As I was walking through the park on Saturday, I thought it would be a great place to have picnic dinner before the show.  This idea was inspired by the long standing tradition of “tailgating” at the Santa Fe Opera.  This tradition started years ago, and has since taken many shapes.  Some people arrive and find a picnic table or set up their camp chairs and have a sandwich, cheese and crackers, and a bottle of wine.  Others arrive to a fully catered three course meal with silk table cloths and fine china.  The opera decided to try and take advantage of this, and teamed up with their catering company to offer “box meals” for an additional price to the ticket for the show.  When they arrive, patronspick up their dinner and enjoy it in the wonderful outdoors overlooking the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.  I wondered if OSF could do the same thing, team up with a local catering company over the summer and encourage their patrons to enjoy a picnic in the park, maybe even provide a blanket that they could borrow and then return in a hamper before the show.

This coming week I think that I may be observing or taking part in a scenic changeover.  In my next few weeks I hope get a closer look out the automation systems. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mike Hamer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Greetings!  My name is Mike Hamer, and I am participating in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Artisan Exchange Program.  I am from Denver, Colorado and have lived there my entire life.  I studied Technical Theatre at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado.  While attending UNC, I began working as an over-hire carpenter at the Denver Center Theatre Company.  I also started working  for the Santa Fe Opera over the summers.  Since I graduated in 2009, I have been working for both companies.
From September through mid-April, I work for the Denver Center Theatre Company as a carpenter, building scenery for their 11 show season, which is produced in three theatre spaces.  The Denver Center does not operate in a repertory schedule.  

From mid-April through August, I am the Stage Carpenter for the Santa Fe Opera.  Basically, I am in charge of all of the stage operations that involve changing over one set to another and for scenery shifts that occur during the performances.  The opera operates in a repertory schedule that seems similar to that of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, but within one stage space.

I have always been interested in working for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and I am extremely excited to be participating in this program. I will be in Ashland for five weeks working in the scene shop building scenery.  I am also hoping to get some exposure and experience with how they operate and construct their automated lifts, trap doors, tracking scenery, and turntables; as well as watching or participating in a scenery changeover from one show to another show.  This week there are several shows in the tech rehearsal process.  I have been working on notes for these shows in the morning before the rehearsals start.  The first few days I was working on Comedy of Errors in the Thomas Theatre, and the later part of the week I was working on notes for The Tempest in the Bowmer Theatre.  For The Tempest I worked on stretching a drop to get the wrinkles out of it, and creating a light bounce to help reflect the light on the back of a translucent drop.  I also started constructing platforms for a show called Water by the Spoonful.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has just built a new production building that will be the new home of the scene shop, paint shop, prop shop, and costume rentals.  I was able to tour this impressive facility a few days ago, and I must admit that I am jealous.  They have a huge new scene shop area that will be great for putting together finished sets and working on larger scenery.  The paint shop is massive as well, with tons of room to paint and layout scenery and drops.  

I am particularly interested in metal working and automation. One very interesting thing about OSF is that they have an automation department.  Both DCTC and SFO have a solid group of carpenters that are able to build scenery and also construct and implement automation systems.  Here, at OSF, there is an automation department that works closely with the carpenters, but ultimately only deals with the automation systems.  The company also writes the software that controls the motors, which is very unusual for theatres to do.  I can’t wait to learn more about it.

Ashland seems to be a small, quaint town. There is the main downtown area that has a number of shops and restaurants, and at the center is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  I am excited to be visiting this town and area.  I am very excited to experience more of the theatre festival, as well as some sightseeing nearby.