November 6, 2010

Surprise Blackout

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 8:31 pm

This afternoon we were having a leisurely Saturday matinee, maybe two-thirds of the way through our first act, when suddenly we had an OMG Surprise Blackout!

Artist’s rendering of the event:

Surprise blackouts are never fun, although they definitely help to pass the time!

The basic story is that the house’s light board crashed. We have kind of an interesting lighting situation here. Our board sends its cues to a submaster on the house board, which then sends the signal on to the lights. The house has a backup board, but because the cues are coming from our board, their backup board is kind of out of the loop. The house ME, Greta, is totally awesome, and as I have learned, decided to make the backup board somewhat useful by taking two of our well-lit cues (a daytime and nighttime look) and saving them on submasters on the backup board so we would have appropriate looks we could use in the event of a crash. We were in the blackout for about two seconds before the daytime cue came up.

Greta and I talked for a few seconds, during which time I learned of this rather impressive backup plan we were witnessing. The cue that was chosen was a very good stand-in for most of our daylight cues, that would not seem out of place in any of the remaining scenes in the act. Greta wasn’t sure exactly what would happen if she tried to unplug our board and put it into their backup board, and once she said the magic words, “I’ve never had to do this before…” I decided that this lovely daytime cue was perfectly fine for the rest of the act, rather than risking another blackout while the boards were swapped.

So I got to call the last 20 minutes or so of the act without having to call light cues, except for a manual fade to black at the end of the act. At intermission our board was plugged into the backup board and all was well in a few seconds. The main board couldn’t be reset because it would have taken out the house lights, so we didn’t have a backup for Act II. Which is OK cause usually you don’t have a backup at all, although the very fact that the venue has a backup board in such a state of readiness is perhaps not the most encouraging sign of the reliability of the main board. It’s a Strand, I’m not sure exactly what kind (ours is an ETC Express 250).

Thankfully all was well for the rest of the show! Hopefully that will be the last surprise blackout we encounter!

Phoenix – Round 2

I call this: On the Road Again,phones,tech,theatre — Posted by KP @ 1:23 am

We’ve spent this week in Phoenix, AZ, where we spent a week two years ago with Henry V, playing at the Herberger Theatre, presented by Arizona Theatre Company (who will also welcome us to their other venue in Tucson next week).

One of the highlights of the Henry tour, it’s once again great to be here with Romeo and Juliet. Here’s our set, as seen from the spot booth.

Last night was our official opening here. We had done three morning shows for school groups, performing for thousands of students, but last night was the first show open to the general public. The artistic director of ATC, David Ira Goldstein, welcomed us and introduced himself to everyone before the show, and then provided champagne and conversation in the greenroom afterwards. Here’s a picture of him with the cast and crew (I’m in the middle in the green shirt).

It’s always nice to get such a warm welcome and personal interaction with the presenters who have brought us in.

Here’s a shot of our upstage crossover, looking from stage right to stage left. There’s so much room that we have a full-length black traveler between the back of the set and the crossover, with just a little hole in the middle for entrances within the set. This allows the crossover to be fairly brightly lit for quickchanges and general hanging out. You can see the line of chairs set up and draped with costumes. Behind them are the workboxes for props and carpentry, easily accessible.

And finally as a bonus, I have a new iPhone wallpaper. The booth that I call from is also the audio booth, and the console sits right next to me (unmanned, since all the show sound is run from our console backstage). The venue’s console is a PM1D, which is very pretty when it’s lit up in the dark. I found it made a very nice wallpaper. Click on the thumbnail to see it full size (it’s big enough for the iPhone 4’s retina display). Enjoy, use, steal, but please give me credit if you share it!