The Awesomeness of Show Week

Again. I’m privileged. I write, and I’m in a situation where I can produce it for the stage. And it’s awesome!

Show week is coming up. It was obvious last evening as I put in six hours on set and light design. It’s not a finished product yet, but here’s what I have so far.

No. “ORIE” doesn’t have any meaning. It will actually eventually say “Stories Vol. 2” – just not there yet.  I’ve had so much over the past couple of years learning lighting design and I still have SOOO much more to learn, but it’s a pretty cool thing to work through your own script and plot out the lighting cues and imagine what the final product will look like.

This is a black-box theater type of show. I don’t have a black box theater at my disposal, so I’m making one. I’m putting the audience on-stage on platforms overlooking the small rectangular stage I created by using four ellipsoidal lights. You can see it in the picture on the left. That area is the stage for this show. It’s tiny. But that’s the way I like it. The audience will be crammed all around that area. Even the lighting console has been moved to stage right. Intimate in the extreme. In my mind, there’s nothing like intimate theater.

When I told people that the audience is going to be sitting on the stage, they look at me and shake their heads. “What is wrong with this guy?” They look out over the 650 seat auditorium and ask, “What about those seats?” They will be empty, is my reply. But they’ll understand when they see it. When they experience it. When the actors are so close you can see the veins popping out of their necks. When they see the intensity, and feel the emotion up close. Then they’ll know why I did what I did. Or at least I hope.

It’s show week. I only get about three of these a year, so I’m going to enjoy the stress, the last minute to-do list, the horrible dress rehearsal, the myriad details, the dropped lines, the dead crowds, the scared look on the faces of the young actors backstage … I’m going to enjoy it all, because it’s awesome.

 

Wearing a New TECH Hat

My role as drama director has shifted as I now produce my shows in a brand new theatre-style auditorium. In the past, I’ve had a dedicated theatre tech staff, professionally trained in lighting design for dramatic shows. I used to tell those fine professionals what I wanted and they worked their magic.

Well, no more. I’ve had to add lighting tech to my list of responsibilities, and shall I say, I actually love it.  Here’s a photo of me doing design work from the ETC Element console in our auditorium.

Lighting Booth
I designed that setting red sun along with a blue wash for my play “No in Spite of Itself.” I added a starry gobo to it as well though not noticeable in the shot.

 

Lighting design is just the type of creative activity which I love to do. Along the course of my theatre journey, I’ve had to learn graphic design on photoshop, audio editing on Audacity, and now I’m knee deep in the wonderful world of theatre lighting.

I have a lot to learn, and I have to learn how to do proper lighting with the limitations of our new theatre.

Drive By
In this shot, spotlight on stage left focused on the mayor’s press conference. A scrim at center stage is lighted by a Source Four ellipsoidal and the cyclorama is lit in blue and red by our Source Four LED par lights.
dress rehearsal
Distant view of the same shot.

 

I was happy with the results of my first lighting design. I can’t wait to do more!  There’s really an unlimited type of creativity offered in this type of work–especially with the high-end LED lights that we have. The color, oh my, is tremendous. Every scene can be shaded differently to help set the tone.  So much fun!

I’m fortunate to be able to run the whole gamut of theatre in my current setting – writing, producing, directing, and now sound & lighting design.

Let’s keep it going! I have three more shows planned for next year.