July 3, 2012

Opening Night

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 1:15 am

Well, we’re open!

First I’d like to direct your attention to the Gifts page, where I’ve made some updates. The second and third entries are new, and are the gifts I gave to my ASM and interns, respectively. They, in turn, got me a large bottle of Grey Goose and a pair of scissors. It may seem like the vodka was the better end of the deal, but you have to understand that since we’ve been in the theatre we’ve been plagued by something we call The Velociraptor of People’s Personal Property. No, I don’t have a better name for it, and at this point, I’m sticking to it.

According to our myth and legend, the VPPP lives somewhere in the theatre and only emerges late at night when the building is empty. Rather than eating humans or other dinosaurs, it feeds on small items that people leave in the theatre: cell phone chargers, scissors, staplers, flashlights, and so forth. Other than the set designer’s stapler, which was regurgitated after several days, most of these items have never been seen again. During the tech process both Ashley and I lost our personal scissors to the VPPP, which caused much anguish and searching under seats with flashlights. So for the ladies to have bought me a new (and very high-quality) pair of scissors was especially meaningful.

The opening was a lot of fun. We had the party onstage and in the bar downstairs, where lots of photos were taken (here’s Playbill‘s collection). Here’s our stage management team (minus Eliana, our third intern, who had already left the party), along with our company manager, Kim, giving our best dinosaur claws.

I’m not trying to look sexy, I’m holding up the sheet of posters that was falling off the wall.

September 24, 2010

Small Site Addition – Evernote Site Memory

I call this: tech,web — Posted by KP @ 8:47 pm

You’re going to see a little green elephant button at the bottom of this post — actually at the bottom of every post. That’s Evernote’s new Site Memory feature.

I’ve gotten a bit hooked on Evernote recently. In brief, it’s a cloud-based app that you can use to store text and other files in a searchable, organized format so you always have access to your stuff. For more about it, see my first impressions post. I’m going to do a longer post about use cases and later impressions, but I want to wait until I’ve had time to use it through a rehearsal process. I’ll give you a hint though: so far it’s been very useful at keeping myself organized, and giving Meaghan (my ASM) a way to keep up with my preproduction work at her leisure, while halfway across the country.

Site Memory is a new feature they just introduced, I think last week. Basically you click the elephant and it automatically clips the post content into a nice format to import into the user’s Evernote account, and lets them assign it to a notebook and set tags and add a comment to it. It also allows the website owner to have a little control over the format and content of the clipping, although I’m not doing anything too fancy with that. I just like being an early adopter of things I find cool.

For reading some sites, using Site Memory might not be much more of an improvement over the default Evernote browser plugin, but for blogs it seems handy because it can clip an individual post with one click. It’s also interesting to note that while the browser plugin requires you to be using a computer with Evernote installed, the Site Memory button works over the web, so you can use it from any computer. And if you don’t use Evernote, you can get started by clicking that button. It’s free!

March 3, 2010

Stage Management Scripts

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 9:42 pm

I’d like to call your attention to a new page on the site, called Scripts. It can be found under the Tools / Templates pages, although I hope to restructure those pages yet again when I’ve got some more templates, which is one of the things on my short list to do now that I’ve resigned from my position of nerdly responsibility in the MMO I play.

Right now there is a very, very small section on blocking scripts (which only exists at all because I think it’s tacky to have it just say “coming soon” so I threw a little bone in the form of one somewhat blurry picture of a recent page of blocking).

Mostly I have added some info about calling scripts, which I plan to build on later. What I do think is cool so far is that since my current show (Romeo and Juliet) is in the public domain, you can download my entire calling script as a .doc file and .pdf, so you can see how it’s formatted and play with it. And if you’re really, really crazy, you can come see the show and follow along!

January 18, 2010

The Education Tag

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 9:03 am

You may notice a new icon on the top of the blog’s sidebar: the Education button. Clicking this will take you to all posts marked with the “Education” tag.

One group of readers that I’ve noticed increasing in the last year or so is students and teachers of theatre, or stage management in particular. As of right now this site is one of the top hits in a Google search for “stage management templates,” “rehearsal report” and that kind of thing, which I think has something to do with it, and also people I meet in my travels have started passing the site address on to their professors, students and others who might be interested, which I very much appreciate.

This all got me thinking that there should be a way for people who come to the site for real-life examples of what a stage manager does to find the posts that are the most rich in that content, and to be able to skip the ones that are about something funny I wrote in my script, or the national monument I visited before the show.

I’ve been using the tagging feature for the first time recently, to make it easier to find content by more narrow criteria than just the major categories the site has always had. I’ve been going through old posts, but I’m sure I will find more as I peruse the archives. I hope some of you find this link helpful!

January 1, 2010

New Year Site Updates

I call this: tech,web — Posted by KP @ 9:54 pm

Today I took some time to update some little things that have been bugging me about the site.

I have wanted to make the comment feature on the blog more welcoming for a while. For one thing, I have removed the need to register for the site before posting. I activated that because I was getting a lot of spam comments, but I will try again and see if it’s ok. Also, the comment section should support Gravatars (a service that will show your avatar on any enabled site based on the email address you post with). I would very much appreciate some feedback from other Gravatar users on if it works.

I also added support for threaded comments, and edited my theme to make the displayed comments and the new comment form stand out a bit with different-colored boxes. If you want to really see it in action, you can check out this post, which has a couple comments already.

In other news, I cleaned up some of the margins to allow for more consistent and attractive spacing between paragraphs and headings (on the blog and the main site), and fixed what was broke with image alignment with a recent WordPress update (hint: the needed CSS code was correct, it was just apparently too far down in the file, and moving it to the top was what fixed it — not exactly sure why, and don’t really care now that it’s fixed).

I’m also currently in the middle of updating all the posts with tags. I’ve never been one to use tags, but it seems like a good idea, especially given how many posts I have accumulated over the years. In the process, I moved the tags listing to the bottom of the post, where it seems more logical to me, in terms of where people will be looking when they decide they may wish to read more about the topic. My recent studies in PHP have made me a little more confident in editing my WordPress files. I may not always understand exactly what they do, but I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out roughly what does what.

If you’d like to take a moment to play around with the comment features, please do! I’d love to hear from you!

December 25, 2009

Christmas Coding

I call this: computers,phones,tech — Posted by KP @ 6:59 pm

It’s been a really long time since I had the time to learn anything new about web development. The next thing on my list has been to learn more PHP so I can learn how to write scripts and generate dynamic content on the site.

I had an idea months ago for an online quiz I wanted to put on the site: I kept reading about iPhone apps where the title of the app gave little indication of what the purpose of the app was. Some of them were actually kind of funny (and by funny, of course I mean “could potentially be raunchy”). I had visions of a quiz which would present the title of an app and the user would have to guess from several descriptions of what the app was for. My only problem is that I didn’t know any programming languages to allow me to create such a quiz from scratch.

So today, Christmas Day, after a video chat with my family, I set about learning some more PHP (like all my coding knowledge, I don’t have any fancy books, I just type “php tutorial” into Google and see what comes up). I have gained some new knowledge, and I present to you:

The iPhone App Name Quiz!

Once I got used to the syntax, things came easily. Between my work on spreadsheets as part of my very nerdy involvement in the high command of Battleground Europe, and the stage management database I’ve been designing for the last four months or so, I have been spending a lot more time dealing with calculations and logic formulas. The last programming I successfully did before this year was in BASIC, back when I was in gifted camp when I was ten, so I am happy to find that my brain is retaining things and having an easier time working with concepts like if/then/else statements.

I’m not sure what else I’ll want to do with this newfound knowledge, but now I will have one more trick up my sleeve while adding to the site.

October 31, 2009

Site Updates

I call this: tech — Posted by KP @ 4:54 am

You’ll see some changes to the layout happened overnight.

Dear IE6 Users: I hope you’re both happier now

It started out with me wanting to make the site look just a tiny bit better in IE6. Our computer at the office has it, which has given me an opportunity to see just how craptastic it is. IE6 users make up 1% of my traffic, so I’m not willing to compromise too much — make that at all — but I wanted to fix any glaring mistakes.

One thing is that my resume was illegible because IE6 doesn’t take kindly to being given font sizes in percentages. By switching to pixels everybody’s happy, and now some producer with an old computer who doesn’t know how to download Firefox can read my resume.

The other major ugliness is that IE6 doesn’t support transparency in PNG images. It does support transparent GIFs, but GIFs are naturally lower quality. I tried to save the logo as a GIF and it looked awful around the edges. I felt I had tried. But tonight, I decided to try again, and when I cheated by using the matte feature in Photoshop to tell it what color the edges should blend into (I chose my favorite gray, #333333, which blends quite well with the carbon fiber background), it actually looked basically the same as the PNG. And the file size is a third of the original. So now IE6 users will see the nice clean lines of the logo and the bullet points.

OK so how do I know this? I found a nice little program called MultipleIE. It’s a Windows-based program that only runs on XP. It automatically installs a copy of whatever old version(s) of IE you want, from 3.0 to 6.0, and does not interfere with whatever newer version you have. I run Windows virtually in Parallels, so it’s easy to flip between coding on the Mac and checking Safari, and then checking how it looks in Windows.

I still have some more little ugliness to address (some of it in IE8 as well), which I will look into some other time when it’s not 5AM on a matinee day.

Warning: More Geek Speak Ahead

This morning I was reading about CSS3 and HTML5, both web standards that are all new and fancy and not yet completely supported by even the most current browsers. But I found it interesting to think that I could start playing around with some of these features, so long as they don’t make the site look bad in older browsers.

The biggest thing I played with tonight is the idea of curved boxes. I’ve always wanted curved boxes, but my philosophy with this site is that I want it to be flexible and code-based, and not wrestled into looking pretty with a bunch of images strung together that only look good in one size window.

However, using the CSS3 properties -moz-border-radius and -webkit-border-radius (for Mozilla and Webkit-based browsers, naturally), you can specify the radius in pixels (I used 10). There are also ways to add curves to each corner individually. This is the page where I learned about it. The best part of all this is that if you’re using Firefox or Safari, the site will look really cool. If you’re using something else, it will just look rectangular instead of curvy, which is not as cool, but still not bad. It doesn’t punish people for having an older browser, it’s just an added bonus for those who do. That’s why I’ve always had text shadows, and have stuck to color combinations that are still legible without the shadow.

October 13, 2009

Geeking Out About Color

I call this: computers — Posted by KP @ 2:29 pm

I’ve been kind of obsessed with color since I started web design.

Picking the colors for the new site was a huge mental undertaking, and I think I’ve got something I’m kinda happy with for now. Let me introduce you to my colors:

#FF4F03 This is the primary color used on the site. Let’s just say I have the hex code memorized. It’s the link color, and the navbar and most orange things are based off of it in some way. That picture of the tech table on the front page is tinted with this color. It’s kind of everywhere.
                           #F02311 This red is used very sparingly, on the line that divides the main content from the sidebar, and as the text shadow and underline for the H3 headings. The most interesting thing about this color is that on colourlovers.com it has been named as “Sex on the Floor”.
#FB8400 This orange carried over from the old site, kind of by accident. I had finished the site but was still unhappy with the colors I chose for the H2 heading. When I was updating the blog colors it looked so much better than what I was about to replace it with that I kept it.
#666666 I like grays a lot. I also like grays that have hex codes that are easy to remember. You will see this is a pattern. This is my default medium gray, it’s also used on the H1 headings.
#333333 This is my favorite gray. It was used a lot on the old site. All the “black” text on the site is actually this color.
#4D4D4D This one is my 2nd-favorite gray. It’s around here and there, mostly for text. It’s most prominent as the H3 heading (with that “Sex on the Floor” color as text shadow).
#F6F6F6 This was a new one for me. It’s only used on the front page for the box that I call “topfeatures.” That box used to be a darker color but when I used the orange mentioned above for the headings it looked muddy, so I needed something that was not quite white but would allow the headings to pop.

As I mentioned, I use ColourLovers.com to find new interesting color combinations and to play with palettes. It’s a cool site.

Grand Opening!

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 12:32 am

balloonsIt’s time for HeadsetChatter.com to be unleashed on the world! The dust has been cleaned up from the site redesign, and pages have been added and updated.

Tell your friends, tell your enemies!

Don’t forget to follow @headsetchatter on Twitter!

October 8, 2009

On the Road Again

I call this: On the Road Again — Posted by KP @ 2:00 am


It’s time to resurrect the Tour Mini-Blog. This year it’s being renamed “On the Road Again,” because of this iPhone wallpaper I happened to stumble across a while back.

It’s still almost two months before we begin rehearsals for The Acting Company’s Romeo and Juliet in Minneapolis. It’s three months before R&J opens at the Guthrie. And it’s almost four months before we actually hit “the road” and pack our as-yet-unborn creation into a 53-foot truck and start driving it around the country.

But the story of this process actually goes back much further. This tour was in the works long before last year’s tour of Henry V and The Spy concluded. The show has been picked, many of the venues were booked, and some of the roles were cast.

When the tour ended, my role on it went on hiatus. I had been spoken to unofficially during one of our New York visits and was given a sneak peek of what was in the works for this year and was asked to come back. I indicated I was definitely interested but my schedule and lack of time at home were things I wanted to think about.

In early summer I started talking again with the office and gave my committment. They were having meetings with all the returning people to talk about how things went last year, but as I was out of town I couldn’t attend, so I was asked to submit something written. I sent in my manifesto, but was pleased to learn that while I was philosophizing about team-building experiences, Nick was meeting with the new production manager and talking about practical stuff like the need for a wireless broadband card for stage management and/or working Internet on our bus. Nick deciding to return was also a great relief, and when that happened (maybe around August) I started really looking forward to getting to work. For a while I was getting concerned I might end up the only returning person on the crew bus.

Also in August I went through some drama figuring out what my fall show would be. I had kinda committed to Inventing Avi pending my final decision a few days later, when I got a call from a well-known Off-Broadway company looking for a PSM. That dragged on for at least a week while they waited to find out if their regular PSM could clear her schedule. The problem was that the show closed on November 29th. November 30th was supposed to be the day we’d fly to Minneapolis to begin R&J. Since I had more options for the fall than I knew what to do with and the tour is my biggest job of the year, I wanted to clear it with The Acting Company before pursuing the job. They thought I was crazy, but gave me permission to take the job. In the end the job went to the other person, so I was spared the stress of having to go right from one to the other. With Avi, I got a month between gigs, which is why now, a month before we begin rehearsal, I consider this the real start of my process.

When I got back in town things had calmed down again and I began a new show, which is currently in previews. Today The Acting Company had their annual flu shot scheduled, which is part of the program offered by the Actor’s Fund to provide free on-site flu shots to shows and theatre companies. Due to the cramped quarters on the tour buses and the fact that we travel with no understudies, it’s something that we are especially encouraged to take advantage of. I wasn’t especially looking forward to being stabbed in the arm, but I was very much looking forward to seeing everyone that I haven’t seen since the tour ended in May.

The best thing that happened to come up was that I got to meet the new general manager, Nancy, who I soon discovered is awesome. A-freaking-mazing. I had a single theoretical question for her, but we were soon joined by my assistant, Nick, and our company manager, Steve. I lost all sense of time, but we must have spent about an hour in an impromptu meeting, discussing a variety of topics.

My initial request was about the possibility of Nick and I traveling to Minneapolis a few days ahead of the company so we could do our preproduction at the Guthrie and get our supplies in order, tape out the floor, and generally settle in before being thrown into rehearsal. It looks like that should be no problem and our apartments will be ready. It’s currently planned that we will have two days there not counting the travel day, which should be plenty.

We also decided which days we would take off in the weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year’s, we talked about a shared Google calendar among the various management departments, concerns about the buses, and the possibility of getting the stage management road box sent to Minneapolis ahead of the set, or at least getting access to it and shipping part of the contents. We also all left with a tentative performance schedule.

I’m very excited to get more into the process, especially after my current show opens. I have been doing a lot of work on my stage management database during Avi but it still needs a lot more work to be ready to begin rehearsals for the tour, and I think the month of having no job will go by very quickly.

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