January 12, 2014

Kit of a Crew Member

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 7:00 pm

I’ve spent the last 12 weeks as a deck crew member of Peter and the Starcatcher. This is pretty much the only full-time job I’ve had in theatre where I wasn’t a stage manager.

It was a nice change of pace after a year as PSM of Silence! The Musical, and in general a chance to experience the life of a crew member first-hand, while also getting to observe and steal things from watching other stage managers work.

One of the nicest things about it was how little stuff I needed. When I went to work every day, all I needed to bring was black pants (which was my decision, something I find more efficient that keeping pants at the theatre and changing). And, not being a department head or anything, as long as I remembered what time the next show was and didn’t forget my track, there was nothing I needed to know or prepare.

My bag was usually a very small messenger bag, only needing to hold my Kindle, sometimes my iPad on a 2-show day, and very occasionally my computer, if I wanted to use some of my copious downtime to work on other projects. Other than wearing black pants, I really didn’t need to bring anything for the job itself.

So here’s my list of the things I kept at the theatre (aside from my boots, they all fit in a small drawstring back that hung from the crew’s coat rack).

  • black hoodie
  • black baseball cap (to keep hair out of my face during intermission)
  • Leatherman / flashlight holster
  • hand moisturizer (I did a lot of flying & always had blisters)
  • mints (for coffee breath)
  • iPhone charger (with 4/5 adapter, making me very popular)
  • black hard-toed boots

I’m looking forward to returning to the stage management world full-time, but this was a really enjoyable and useful experience.

January 7, 2014

We Need to Talk About RGB LEDs

I call this: tech — Posted by KP @ 2:55 pm

Recently I made an impulse buy: I found a great deal on a good length of RGB LED ropelight with associated color-changing controls. Essentially what this means is that it’s a length of ropelight that can make pretty much any color — within reason — it would depend on how many levels of control it has over the red, green and blue, whether it’s thousands of colors or millions. I’m guessing thousands. Let’s just say it’s a whole lot more options than going to Home Depot and buying a roll of, say, red ropelight. Which I did at one point.

And if you know how theatrical LED lighting works, well it’s basically like that. It’s not as pure of a color as a light going through a color filter (like a gel, or regular ropelight), because sometimes you can see the different shades that make up the overall color, but it’s still pretty cool. And I don’t have to call a show in my living room, thank God, because I have something of a love/hate relationship with LEDs on stage. Mostly due to watching them attempt to dim and brighten.

In my travels around the web, I found this deal on eBay, which is only a few dollars more than buying a single color of ropelight at Home Depot. (When the link stops working, the seller was dazzlewerllc.)

So I tore out the red ropelight that ran along the back edge of my desk and replaced it with the RGB strip. And I’m addicted. The controller I have comes with a bunch of preset colors, and six programmable buttons for whatever color you can invent. Here’s what I’ve come up with in a few days:

I really like this soothing yellow in the morning.

I made this deep orange to match the backlighting on my keyboard.

This purple is very calming, especially at night.

This blue matches the wallpaper on my computer (right now the default Mavericks wallpaper), which is apparently a popular thing to do, cause I guess it’s easy on the eyes when the color matches what you’re looking at on the screen. Some people even hook their LEDs up to their computer and have software that automatically adjusts the LED color to match the screen.

And this is just my favorite lighting color in general:

These were all taken during the daytime, obviously, but given that my apartment is always rather dark, I actually appreciate the accent lighting more during the day. It makes me feel like I have windows that let in light coming from somewhere other than the concrete wall across the street.

It’d also be pretty cool for lighting a road box without needing to do any fancy electrical work. You could have bright white light when you’re working, and then some dim blue (or red, or whatever) light during the show. Make it the color of your show logo, or the color of the set.

The possibilities for fun and practical uses are kind of endless, and it’s gotten much more affordable than I realized.

January 6, 2014

A Brief Moment of Technological Bliss

I call this: computers,iOS,phones,tech — Posted by KP @ 11:09 pm

Just before leaving work I had downloaded a sample of a book I was considering buying, thinking I would read the sample on the train, and probably buy the book when I got home.

I started reading the brief introductory chapter on the platform, and when the train arrived the conductor announced it was going local. Realizing I was already halfway through the sample, and that I liked it, I regretted not buying the whole book for what was now going to be an even longer ride home.

Then I set myself a challenge: could I set up a hotspot with my phone, connect my Kindle’s wifi to it, purchase and download the book, all before the doors closed and the train left the station? Thanks to the new cell reception in many midtown stations, I had a precious few seconds left at 59th Street, before heading north into the great underground wilderness.

I’m pleased to say that I accomplished my goal, and was so engrossed in my book that I nearly missed my stop. Sometimes, despite the obstacles thrown in our way by patent lawsuits and greedy wireless carriers, we can actually use our inventions to accomplish the things they should be able to do. [Hugs Verizon.] I’m sorry about all the things I said about you. They were all 100% true, and you deserved to burn in hell at the time. But I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge when things cease to suck.

Telecommunications industry, you made my night.

Levels of Performance Pressure

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 6:00 pm

5. I have a friend in the house.
4. The Times critic is in the house.
3. I have a stage manager friend in the house.
2. My parents are in the house.
1. One of my Twitter followers is in the house.