Monday, April 6, 2009

Construction and load-in, or, am I drinking too much coffee?

By Tim Combs, Staff Technical Director for The Theatre School

Saturday, April 4th was the big day. For the scene shop that was the day we loaded-in URINETOWN. Load-ins are always big days with lots of second guessing and nervous energy the week before. Will we get it all built in time? Did I engineer that deck correctly to support 9 dancers and yet still easily break apart for storage? Am I drinking too much coffee?

Hmmm… yes, I think so, and of course.

I started with the scenic design from Scenic Designer Amy Gilman. After a few weeks back and forth of “This is what I want” and “You can’t afford that” we finally settled on a version of the set we thought was workable to all the constraints we have. Not only did we have to deal with the budget, but this production also plays in rep with our Playworks show BUD, NOT BUDDY. Two very different sets that need to share the same stage and all we have for storage is 7’ of space across the back of the stage. Hey barista! Make it a venti and leave room for cream.

We had 5 weeks of shop time to build and paint the set. One week was lost to previous production demands – what’s up with the 20’ suitcase? Two weeks were shared with the suitcase. I made the call to extend shop hours by 1 hour every day for 3 weeks and have an extra work call the one Saturday that we actually had free. Our shop started filling up fast with bits and pieces of scenery. I churned out 25 working drawings in 3 weeks. Where’s my coffee cup? Don’t tell me they painted it?

Oh wait, there’s two more shows coming down the pike. They need to start construction before you even load-in this one. Did I just hear next year’s productions coming down the line? Don’t forget, there’s a workshop that loads-in Monday April 6th at the Athenaeum. … Caffeine … good.

Yep, April 4th was a big day. And we were done an hour ahead of my expectations. The set looks good. I wish I could actually work the tech week, but I’m concentrating on what’s in the shop. Now let’s get the next two shows up so we can finish this season and I can take a vacation. I need more coffee.

Photo: Scene Shop staff hard at work on the set for URINETOWN.
Photo by Kelly Montgomery