December 30, 2011

How Was Your Day?

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 8:45 pm

My day has been OK. I didn’t do much, other than fix what I broke while moving my domain away from GoDaddy as part of yesterday’s “Move Your Domain Day.” (If you’d like to know more about why GoDaddy and the proposed SOPA legislation suck, my new registrar, NameCheap.com, has a decent summary.)

Anyway, my day was just OK until a friend and reader texted me this shot of what was transpiring on 42nd Street:

I actually knew nothing about this, which is a wonderful thing, as my life experience has taught me that anything involving that truck and 42nd Street must have royally sucked for whoever was involved, which thankfully was not me.

So I say, godspeed, unfortunate Acting Company employees and hourly laborers! May whatever you were doing have gone quickly and without incurring the wrath of the NYPD and/or studio management. And as this was less than 4 hours ago, at the very least I hope it’s not still going on!

December 21, 2011

Truck Excursion Follow-up

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 6:33 pm

As I blogged, last week I was sent on a 2-day trip to upstate New York on a little truck-packing project for The Acting Company.

I was going to visit Adirondack Studios, where the set for the new tour of Julius Caesar had just been completed, to supervise the loading of the set into the company’s 53-foot trailer, in combination with the road boxes and part of the set for The Comedy of Errors that was already in there.

The staff at Adirondack was really friendly and helpful, and perhaps most notably, fed me incredibly well, from dinner at a local brew pub the night I arrived, to coffee on the way to my 7AM call, to a delicious lunch during our break from loading the truck. Our account manager and his wife were Acting Company alums from the ’70s and ’80s, so I got to hear lots of stories from the early days on the road, and share my tales of how much things have changed (or haven’t changed!) since then.

Perhaps my favorite part of the trip was the train station in nearby Fort George, where I stepped down off the train at night, literally the only person getting off the train, onto a completely empty platform. It was so awesome. I also got to wait a while for the train on the way home. It was a little busier, because there’s a gift shop/coffee shop in the old train station that got a little bit of traffic, but I got this cool shot down the tracks.

I won’t lie, it’s a cell phone photo, but click the image for a wallpaper-sized (1920×1080*) version. I generally hate wallpaper images that aren’t pixel-perfect, but I have to commend the iPhone 4 for failing in a direction that sort of makes it look like a painting rather than a blotch of pixels (especially the trees).

*I generally think 1920×1080 is the devil’s resolution, but the aspect ratio worked much better for this photo.

December 13, 2011

The TAC Truck, Year 4

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 6:10 pm

The other day, I was out at Ikea with my parents, buying a $10 lamp for my desk, which is seriously the most blogworthy thing that’s happened to me in weeks (thus my silence), when I saw I had a voicemail.

Heeding the old adage of theatrefolk, I checked the message because it was a 212 number (the theory being that nobody has a landline, and if you’re receiving a 212 call from an unknown number, it could only possibly be the office of a producer or general manager who’s calling to offer you a job!) As it is a surprising number of times, it was indeed the office of a theatre company, although I was unexpectedly greeted by a voice I knew: it was The Acting Company.

I think I’ve mentioned — maybe — that I’m not doing this year’s tour, but they know I’m in town and available for other stuff. This particular situation has to do with the truck.

The set for Julius Caesar has just been finished at the shop, up in Glens Falls, NY (for the upstate-challenged, that’s “way past Albany”), and as always, it’s big, and may not fit in the truck, and it has to get to New 42nd Street Studios for rehearsal tomorrow afternoon.

So, having a reputation as She Who Makes Things Fit in the Truck, I have been asked to go to Glens Falls to supervise the load out and make it fit in the truck.

The trickiest part of this assignment is not having to devise an optimized truck pack on the fly for a set I’ve never seen. The trick is going to be doing that successfully at 7AM. The company is sending me to the shop at great expense, not because I’m needed to load the truck, but because supposedly there’s something in my brain that will allow the truck to be loaded better. So really the best preparation I can do for this assignment is to sleep and drink coffee.

I requested an early enough train to get to the hotel at a reasonable hour to have dinner and get a good amount of sleep.

I’m on the train now, which is somewhere between a 4- or 5-and-a-half-hour ride, I guess depending on how express the train is. I have six proposed versions of the truck pack drawn up by the production manager, from which to draw ideas. Once the sun set and there was nothing to watch out the window, I sat with them on my tray table and looked them all over again. I’m optimistic that I can do better than what’s on paper, which of course is drawn conservatively.

Thankfully I don’t have to participate in the unloading of the truck (a load-in or -out at New42 is high on my list of things for which there is not enough money in the world), but I want to make it as easy as possible on the other end, and I know that I have an opportunity to test out some ideas, or create new ones, that will give the show crew a head start in finding clever ways of loading the truck for the tour.

What the truck might look like, and what the people unloading it might look like if they weren’t illegally parked in Times Square.

I’m excited to see the truck again, and to get a peek at the new set, even if I probably won’t have any idea of what it looks like when it’s broken down for travel.

May 18, 2011

Most Awesome Photo of the Tour

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:56 am

Now that the tour is over, I’d like to declare this the most awesome photo. It came from the last week of the tour — we were in Ft. Pierce, FL. The theatre was in a cute little downtown area by the marina, with lots of shops and restaurants. There was one shop in particular we loved: it sold beer and candy! But not just any beer and candy, lots of microbrews, and candies that you don’t usually find in most stores.

I was shocked to discover that they sold candy cigarettes — I figured they had been banned sometime in the early ’90s. When I was a kid I loved candy cigarettes, mostly because of the sugary taste, and a little bit because I thought it made me look cool. So of course I had to buy a couple packs.

We got back to the venue and headed to the bus to show those who had remained behind how cool the store had been. I showed Meaghan my purchase, and she wanted one as well. So we each took a cigarette, and headed out of the bus, to stand in front of the truck “smoking,” as that seemed like the appropriate thing to do. We got some strange reactions initially, from our colleagues who know very well that neither of us smoke. But we decided that we needed a picture to document how “cool” we looked smoking out by the truck.

It’s definitely my favorite “Team Stage Management” picture of the tour, mostly because it’s completely at odds with who we really are.

NOTE: Candy cigarettes are cool. Real cigarettes are not.

February 4, 2011

Truck Pack Victory

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 7:25 pm

Here’s what our first truck pack looked like:

Our next one was slightly more efficient, but ended up basically looking the same, as far as everything being piled up right to the doors.

So yesterday, Daniel had a plan. He’s made me truck boss for this tour, and in the morning started talking to me about his ideas for the pack. My brain was still frozen from Brainerd, so I made him draw me a picture of the floor pack, which resulted in this piece of abstract art:

So last night, having not even been present for the load-out from the Guthrie, and having been a pusher/loader for the load-out from Brainerd who spent very little time actually in the truck, I had to make this pack happen.

We were at an IATSE house, and I was given four dedicated truck loaders, who were of the opinion that our 150-lb sections of flooring were nothing to worry about. This is a fantastic thing, but having such an efficient crew made the fact that this was a brand-new pack, and I didn’t even really know the old pack, much more stressful. It was just me and the loaders on the truck, with Meaghan sometimes acting as a runner between the truck and the theatre, and Sara (our new prop supervisor, who also functions as ATD) on radio with me, keeping me informed of what scenery and props were available for the pushers to bring out.

I’m sure we all were on high alert trying not to slow down or demoralize our crack crew with the fact that yes, we have a plan, but basically, we’re pulling this truck pack out of our ass. Actually it went very well. Here Daniel inspects the final result. Look at all that room!

I forget what exactly our time was, but it was somewhere between two-and-a-half and three hours. Which is half the time it took us at the last venue! And I should mention, there were two ramps involved. Had we had a loading dock, I can’t even imagine how fast it could have been, though with dedicated loaders and pushers, we spent very little time on the truck waiting for scenery anyway.

It was a very successful night, and I’m kinda-sorta looking forward to the next one, though we will be hard-pressed to find another crew so willing and capable of doing all the heavy lifting for us.

December 29, 2010

Look What the Cat Dragged In

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 1:03 pm

There’s always a part of my brain that knows when load-in is, but it’s not really connected to the walking-to-the-theatre-in-the-morning part, so it always comes as something of a surprise to me when I approach the Guthrie and see our truck at the loading dock. My first reaction is always, “what is that doing there?” Mostly because at this point my mind is still very much on finishing up our week in the rehearsal studio and also because I just associate the truck with performances and touring, and we’re still a long way from that. Mentally, at least!

October 26, 2010

More Early Tour Pictures

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 8:58 pm

I’ve been taking lots of pictures this past week, so I’m going to share all the miscellaneous ones with you:

On our load-out day from Pace in New York, the truck was parked outside by the time we arrived for the matinee. On our dinner break before load out Tim, Olivia and Meaghan posed with the truck.

Meaghan was wearing a bandana on her head for the final performances at Pace. She said she felt like a Russian peasant woman, which I thought was especially appropriate when she came down the stairs carrying the water jugs for backstage, as though she had just pulled the water from the well. So I took a picture, which she requested also show that she was transporting Lady Capulet’s black shawl in the back of her hoodie (the shawl is hidden in a tiny box in the set for most of the show).

A random shot of the truck pack. I took this mostly to help document the configuration of the sound boxes, as they’re of a different size than last year’s package, so the positioning of this section of the pack is new.

The back of the set during load out from Pace. About half of it has been taken down at this point.

My hotel room in Palm Desert. I got up early and sat, not really out on the balcony for most of it, but I had the door open and sat right next to it while working at the desk, and it was awesome. My current hotel room in Northridge also has a balcony, but it looks out on parking garages and things, and doesn’t have any chairs. So, not as cool.

February 21, 2010

Scotty’s Parking Job

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 1:09 pm

Last week we played at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV, which is on the top of a big hill. There are two levels of loading docks, which I never quite got the big picture on (it was one of those venues where I never saw anything outside besides the space between the bus door and the entrance to the building, which was maybe 40 feet.)

But I heard tales of how Scotty barely was able to fit the trailer at the dock, and how he had nailed it on the first try. Maybe 10 hours later, I was setting up for the cast’s arrival and had to get something from the dock, where I had never been. By this time it was dark, but as I turned to leave with my stuff, I did a double-take as I saw the wall on the far side of the trailer. The trailer is 53 feet long — the wall looked to be about 54 feet away! And there, at a 90-degree angle, was Scotty’s truck. Wow.

I went back inside and said, “Oh my God, I just saw where the truck is!” and the crew confirmed that Scotty did it in one try, from the bottom of the hill. They also told me he took some pictures of it in the daytime, so I got those from him, so I can show off his handiwork.

The best thing about the above picture is Bam-Bam at the steering wheel, looking very proud of himself.