Category Archives: Theatre

Season Pass - An Adventitious Adventure

Season Pass: An Adventitious Adventure

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Season Pass – An Adventitious Adventure

Season Pass had been all I thought about for basically a year. (Well, I certainly thought about it every day.) Now that it’s closed I feel a little lost.

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Console Parts – Sea’s Wheel – Body’s Laser – Space’s S.H.I.P. – Time’s Control Console

We created something amazing and ambitious, and boy did it pay off.  The Ride – with it’s four shows – Sea, Body, Space, and Time, really did take people for a ride, and they LOVED IT. But don’t listen to me – just read this review.

In creating this universe we invented our own higher truth, our own history – the reality of the lives of those living during the war between Sylvania and Freedonia. Each of the rides had to fit into that universe, and each of the rides’ endings also had to go along with the probabilities and possibilities laid out by that universe. Who’d’ve thought choose your own adventure would be so timey wimey – even in the rides that weren’t about time travel. I’d say we did pretty well, and though it’s hard for me, having been in on this project for so long, to know for sure how clear certain realities were, the audience seemed to be able to follow. Everyone I’ve talked to afterwards has had nothing but great things to say.

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Sea – Puppets

I tell ya though, it’s hard to talk to people afterwards about a show that has so many different endings. The conversation always has to start with ‘So which endings did you get? What happened?’ It gets even harder when you figure in the fact that we had so many ideas that didn’t even make it into the final drafts of the show. (All the more reason for a re-mount…)

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As a designer, and a relatively new member of The Plagiarists, I have to say that this project was probably one of the most challenging and rewarding and exciting things I’ve ever worked on. A designer, in on the writing process? That’s amazing. I mean, it makes sense. The whole show takes place on a ship of some sort, so there were certain things that were really helpful to know before putting characters into those spaces. It was almost a backwards design process for me in the scenic department, and that was really, really fun. I had drafts of the set before we had drafts of the script. Then we’d keep editing the script and I’d edit the set, and there was a lot of back and forth before HOLY CRAP WE OPEN IN A MONTH and we had to settle on things.

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BODY – Surgical Laser Close Up

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Surgical Laser + Doctor Michaels

The design was always relatively open ended though, as the aesthetic we had chosen for this adventure was something inspired by Be Kind Rewind‘s Sweded Films. (Which is a great film. And if you haven’t seen any of YouTube fanvids, they are hilarious.) The recycled materials/found items aesthetic seems to be something I keep going back to, and it breeds a certain MacGyver style of creativity that I absolutely adore working with.

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I could go on and on and on about this project, but the next thing awaits! (Literally, the program is open on my computer and I have coding to do…) So hopefully you can enjoy this short post and a handful of photos.


War Song with The Plagiarists

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This past weekend I opened another great show with The Plagiarists. My second professional endeavor in the realm of scenic design, War Song was a challenging script to create a world for.

From The Plagiarists’ Website:

WAR SONG is a music-and-poetry-suffused look at race and the Civil War through the eyes of Christian Fleetwood, publisher, choirmaster, Sergeant in the 4th Regiment United States Colored Infantry, and winner of The Congressional Medal of Honor. Drawn from his speech, “The Negro As Soldier,” as well as the words of Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Susie King Taylor, W.E.B. DuBois and others, WAR SONG is about war, glory, despair, America, and the old flag; the stories we tell and the songs we sing about them.

Now Playing at Berger Park Coach House, 6205 N Sheridan Rd, March 13th – April 19th, 2014. Thurs at 7:30pm, Fri & Sat at 8:00pm.

What made this show such a challenge for me (besides still being fairly new to scene design) were a few things. The space we’re playing in is quite small compared to where we did our staged reading, so I had to find a way to fit an audience and a cast of 7 into what is basically a 25′ x 40′ space (If I am remembering the length of the room correctly.)

Berger did not have a ground plan for me, so the first step was to measure the space and create one using Google SketchUp. I had never used SketchUp before, but I discovered quite quickly how useful that program can be.

Once I got a ground plan, the next step was to figure out how to fit in seating for our goal of 30 people.  I played around in SketchUp until I found an arrangement that worked out. It left the space with a pretty solid proscenium feel. Now it was onto the set itself. (Gotta love blackbox spaces.)

In the reality of the play, Fleetwood and his wife are in their woodshed. But as Fleetwood describes his writing process to her, the woodshed opens up to become a warm cabin. To establish this feeling, the lighting designer and I had to find a way to isolate the woodshed from the rest of the stage. I played with some vertical gestures to suggest walls, but logistically it made more sense to keep those to the sides of the stage, and we landed on a fading floor treatment.

The other ‘reality’ of the play is that there is music, and therefor, a band. After many long conversations with the director, we found a way to tie them into Fleetwood’s creative arena: A Campfire. The real Fleetwood loved music, so it would only follow that in his dream world, the memory of his time spent around the army campfires during the war would have a strong presence. We put the band in army uniform, dirtied them up, and placed them around a fire with their instruments.

The campfire world was linked to the cabin through the cabin’s fireplace. The cabin was linked to the woodshed through the doors and furniture. For a relatively minimal set, there was an awful lot of thought needed to bring it to life, dreams are complicated like that.

Special thanks to the company members of The Plagiarists, for being awesome, as always, and helping with build and load in. And to Grace Pisula who came in to help paint EVERYTHING. I couldn’t have done it without you guys.

I look forward to my next scenic adventure. Hopefully it’s something with spaceships, or rollercoasters, I’ve always wanted to build those things.