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• Get a summer start with production planning• Three artistic directorsshare trade secrets• How to market your seasonwww.stage-directions.comA U G U S T 2 0 0 7Six Great High School Theatre ProgramsThree common acoustic issues andhow you can treat themWhyChicagostill kicks after 10 years


Table Of ContentsA u g u s t 2 0 0 7Features26 The Cream of the CropThese high schools boast some of the country’s top theatretech training programs. By Evan Henerson30 Analyzing AcousticsWe look at the three most common acoustic issues in aspace and what you can do to avoid them.By Jason PritchardSpecial Section:Production Planning33 Men for All SeasonsThree artistic directors tell us how they go about pickingtheir seasons. By Kevin M. Mitchell36 Getting the Word OutSome smart, savvy and tech-forward techniques for marketingyour season. By Lisa Mulcahy26


Departments10 In the GreenroomThe Tonys decide to give sound its due, Pegasusacquires LED Effects, late-actor Jerry Orbach gets atheatre named after him and more.14 Tools of the TradeWe show off the latest summer gear.16 Sound DesignThe jailbirds of Chicago sound sweeter on a new desk.By Bryan Reesman18 Light on the SubjectChoosing and plotting your instruments doesn’t haveto be a hassle, no matter how you do it.By Patrick J. Immel22 Theatre SpaceKansas City Rep expands into a new second stage.By Margaret Dornaus24 School SpotlightThere’s a new building, and a new high-technicaltheatre engineering program going up at theUniversity of Nevada, Las Vegas.By Geri Jeter44 Answer BoxFoam latex helped these students make a monster outof Caliban. By Stuart T. WagnerColumns9 Editor’s Note“Going green” is a good idea, and some people aretry ing to make it the law, too. By Iris Dorbian38 Show BusinessTheatres in Berkeley and Chicago offer a couple ofvariations on the subscription model. By Jacob Coakley39 TD TalkNever assume anything — especially when it comes tonew designers. By Dave McGinnis40 Off the ShelfA round-up of helpful “How-To” books in a wide varietyof fields. By Stephen Peithman41 The Play’s the ThingUnusual viewpoints and uncommon characters informthis month’s selection. By Stephen Peithman24ON OUR COVER: The Cellblock girls from ChicagoPHOTOGRAPHY BY: Paul Kolnik33COURTESY OF UNLV


www.stage-directions.comPublisher Terry Lowetlowe@stage-directions.comEditor Iris DorbianEditorial Director Bill Evansidorbian@stage-directions.combevans@fohonline.comAudio Editor Jason Pritchardjpritchard@stage-directions.comLighting & Staging Editor Richard Cadenarcadena@plsn.comManaging Editor Jacob CoakleyAssociate Editor Geri Jeterjcoakley@stage-directions.comgjeter@stage-directions.comContributing Writers Margaret Dornaus, Evan Henerson,Patrick Immel, Dave McGinnis,Kevin M. Mitchell, Lisa MulcahyStephen Peithman, Jason Pritchard,Bryan Reesman, Christine SpartaConsulting Editor Stephen PeithmanARTArt Director Garret PetrovGraphic Designers Crystal Franklin, David AlanProductionProduction Manager Linda Evanslevans@stage-directions.comWEBWeb Designer Josh HarrisADVERTISINGAdvertising Director Greg Gallardogregg@stage-directions.comAccount Manager James LeasingAudio Advertising Manager Peggy Blazejleasing@stage-directions.compblaze@stage-directions.comOPERATIONSGeneral Manager William Vanyowvanyo@stage-directions.comOffice Manager Mindy LeFortmlefort@stage-directions.comCIRCULATIONSubscription order www.stage-directions/subscribeBUSINESS OFFICEStark ServicesP.O. Box 16147North Hollywood, CA 916156000 South Eastern Ave.Suite 14-JLas Vegas, NV 89119TEL. 702.932.5585FAX 702.932.5584Stage Directions (ISSN: 1047-1901) Volume 20, Number 08 Published monthly by Timeless CommunicationsCorp. 6000 South Eastern Ave., Suite 14J, Las Vegas, NV, 89119. It is distributed freeto qualified individuals in the lighting and staging industries in the United States and Canada.Periodical Postage paid at Las Vegas, NV, office and additional offices. Postmaster please sendaddress changes to: Stage Directions, P.O. Box 16147 North Hollywood, CA 91615. Editorial submissionsare encouraged, but must include a self-addressed stamped envelope to be returned.Stage Directions is a Registered Trademark. All Rights Reserved. Duplication, transmission by anymethod of this publication is strictly prohibited without permission of Stage Directions.Advisory BoardJoshua AlemanyRoscoJulie AngeloAmerican Association ofCommunity TheatreRobert BarberBMI SupplyKen BillingtonLighting DesignerRoger clamanRose BrandPatrick Finelli, PhDUniversity ofSouth FloridaGene FlahartyMehron Inc.Cathy HutchisonAcoustic DimensionsKeith KankovskyApollo DesignBecky KaufmanPeriod CorsetsTodd KoepplChicago Spotlight Inc.Kimberly MesserLillenas Drama ResourcesJohn MeyerMeyer SoundJohn MuszynskiTheater DirectorMaine South High SchoolScott ParkerPace University/USITT-NYRon RansonTheatre ArtsVideo LibraryDavid RosenbergI. Weiss & Sons Inc.Karen RugerioDr. Phillips High SchoolAnn SachsSachs Morgan StudioBill SapsisSapsis RiggingRichard SilvestroFranklin Pierce CollegeOTHER TIMELESS COMMUNICATIONS PUBLICATIONS


By Iris DorbianIn The Greenroomtheatre buzzSound Designers Get Their DueAfter decades of being ignored by the Tony Awards, sound designers finally will be honored for theirwork starting with next year’s ceremony. The Tony Awards Administration Committee recently votedto include two new competitive categories to the Tony Awards: Best Sound Design of a Play and BestSound Design of a Musical. Sound designers working on Broadway shows during the 2007–08 seasonwill be eligible. With the addition of these new categories, there are now 27 qualifying categories forthe Tony Awards. Theatre design’s most underrated practitioners should hail the news.The League of American Theatres and Producers and the American Theatre Wing present the TonyAwards, which recognizes Broadway’s highest achievements. Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss/WhiteCherry Entertainment are executive producers of the 2008 Tony Awards. For more information, visitthe Tony Awards Web site at www.TonyAwards.com.The Tony AwardCOURTESY OF THE AMERICAN THEATRE WINGRoundabout’s Expansion Draws IreThe NYC-based Roundabout Theatre Company, widelyconsidered to be the largest nonprofit theatre operatingin the Broadway marketplace, has now become the targetof attack by competitors due to its plans for expansion,according to the May 29, 2007, article by JeremyGerard at Bloomberg.com.The Roundabout, led by artistic director Todd Haimes,currently is negotiating with the Durst Organization fora long-term lease on the restored 1,000-seat Broadwayvenue, the Henry Miller Theater. “Haimes expects the dealwith Durst, whose co-president sits on the Roundabout’sboard, to be completed shortly,” writes Gerard.Broadway’s leading commercial producers, includingRocco Landesman, president of Jujamycn Theaters(and owner of five Broadway houses) and GeraldSchoenfeld, chairman of the Shubert Organization,have been the most vocal of Roundabout’s detractors.Their main complaint about Roundabout’s expansionis that the organization’s motives are disingenuous,considering that the Roundabout rarely producesnew work, focusing primarily on revivals of musicalsand dramatic classics.Haimes take issue with the attacks, insisting thatproducing for the nonprofit theatre is vastly differentfrom that of producing for the commercial realm. “Thecommercial theatre is based on the producer model: Youraise $2 million for a show, and if it fails, with the nextshow you start from zero again,” he says. “In the nonprofitworld, you can’t operate like that. If you lose $2 million,you start your next show with a $2 million deficit.”The Roundabout, which currently has 45,000 subscribers,has a $40 million annual budget.Off-Broadway Theatre Name Honors Late ActorThe late Broadway and television actor Jerry Orbach recently received a special tribute. The Off-Broadway venue, the SnappleTheater Center, named one of its two theatres the Jerry Orbach Theater. Orbach, who originated such roles as El Gallo in The Fantasticks(which is currently being revived at the Snapple Center) and Billy Flynn in Chicago, and who is best known to television audiences forhis role in the long-running series Law and Order, died December 28, 2004. He was 69.Says Catherine Russell, the Center’s general manager, “The Snapple name and theatre space are terrifically popular and we wantedto complement that with something really connected to New York theatre history.” The renamed theatre had a dedication ceremonythis past June.The lobby of the Jerry Orbach Theater will feature a gallery of Orbach photos, and monitors will also be installed outside the venuewith footage of the late star. The theatre also will offer benefits for the New York Eye Bank and the Detectives’ Endowment Association,as well as provide a theatre management internship and master classes.10 August 2007 • www.stage-directions.com


ETC’s new Eos lighting control system recently won the Showtech2007 tradeshow Product Award for Lighting and Projection. Showtechis a European entertainment-technology industry show, taking placein Berlin every other year. This award is the second such honor for theEos, which took the Product of the Year Award for debuting productwhen it was introduced at LDI 2006 last fall.Accepting the honor for ETC, CEO Fred Foster said, “We areextremely proud to have Eos recognized in the German market bythis award. Eos will be a very powerful tool for the lighting designersand lighting programmers in theatres, television studios and events.”Designed to handle complex, multimedia-filled lighting rigs, Eosis already being specified for theatres,performing arts centers, TVproduction, and comparable sites.The Eos has now begun shippingin Europe and is being installedat venues like the NorwegianTheater (Det Norske Teatret) inOslo and used in touring applicationslike the Rambert DanceCompany.industry newsPegasus Acquires LED EffectsPegasus Capital Advisors has acquired a majority interest inLED Effects, a provider of LED lighting design and engineeringservices. Govi V. Rao, a senior executive at Philips Lighting NorthAmerica, joined LED Effects as its new president and chief executiveofficer, effective July 1, 2007.Founded in 1993, LED Effects pioneered the use of LEDsin lighting and is one of the few companies to offer digitalcontrol technology with in-house design. In addition to supplyinglighting products to the gaming industry, the companyprovides custom lighting solutions for architectural and artisticprojects worldwide.“LED lighting is clearly the wave of the future, and we arethrilled to be partnering with the market leader in this field,” saysRichard Weinberg, a partner at Pegasus. “LED lighting has enormousbenefits over traditional lighting technologies — lowerenergy consumption, longer life and enhanced flexibility indesign and controls — and we believe the company is extremelywell positioned to capitalize on this transition.”Prior to joining, LED Effects, Rao was vice president andgeneral manager of the North American Solid State LightingLuminaries division at Philips Lighting Company. He has heldleadership roles in several industries across North America, Asiaand Europe, including lighting and plastics.“I am thrilled to be joining the organization at this excitingtime,” says Rao. “The company’s people, intellectual propertyand technology leadership are the cornerstones of a solid foundation,and I believe this combination will enable us to bringunique and innovative solutions to our customers worldwide.”ETC Console Wins Showtech AwardETC Eos Team Member AnneValentino at Eos Console,Showtech 2007Courtesy of ETC


changing rolesDisney Exec Goes to OUAfter a 26-year career at Walt Disney World, Rich Taylor isreturning to his alma mater, the University of Oklahoma, but ina professional position: director of the University of Oklahoma(OU) Weitzenhoffer Department of Musical Theatre. He hasbeen appointed to the Gregory D. Kunesh Chair in MusicalTheatre, effective July 1.Says OU President David L. Boren: “The entire universitycommunity is honored and excited that Rich Taylor, one of theleading professionals in his field, is coming home to lead OU’snationally recognized musical theatre program.”Taylor exults in his return to OU, where he earned his bachelorof fine arts degree in 1972. “Returning home to the vibrantOU of today to invest in the development and future of thevery talented musical theatre students, faculty and world-classprogram truly excites me,” he says.For the past 10 years, Taylor served as vice president ofWalt Disney Entertainment and Costuming at the Walt DisneyWorld Resort near Orlando, Florida. Taylor, who began hiscareer at Walt Disney Worldin 1980, held a variety of positionsduring his Disney career,including corporate directorof creative development andcommunications, manager ofspecial events, manager ofcreative show development,division manager of talentcasting and resources forWalt Disney World CreativeEntertainment and director ofentertainment for DisneylandParis, where he headed the Rich Taylorconceptual creative designand show development groups, among others. In January 2000,as executive producer, he and Walt Disney World Entertainmentproduced the Super Bowl halftime show.Courtesy of University of Oklahoma


A view of the Yamaha consoles used for ChicagoVCA because all of the band groups come into the maindesk from the orchestra desk on inputs, so those inputs areright next to where they would’ve been anyway. That wasthe easiest way to deal with the programming. I only hadto change a couple of cues, and I just wound up deleting acouple of cues because I really wanted to make sure thatthe cue numbers were the same, too, so you could look atthe screen and know that you’re in the right cue.We were doing this on a two-day changeover. Wewere dark on a Monday. We pulled out the old front-ofhouse,installed the new front-of-house, made sure itworked, then the next day came back in and made sureall the levels were correct going everywhere. After lunch,we had a three-hour sound check with the full cast andorchestra and had a show that night. We made it as similaras possible so it made it easier on me and on my subs atthe same time.SL: We made a really big assumption back in August2006 when we did all the programming. We spent adecent amount of time in the shop and went throughthe whole show and carefully programmed everything.But we were still measuring voltages on the old console,writing down all EQs and old EQs, and it was transposed.I think partly because we went from Yamaha to Yamahaas far as the EQs went. What we didn’t know was, gettinginto that theatre on a Monday — we had to find a twodayperiod where we actually had a day off followed by afull day before performance. It was really hard to find thatcombination: it took us seven months to find a time whenit could be done. We just plugged everything in, and theamazing thing was…JM: Most of the systems were dead on. There were acouple of spots where we were looking for center, and itwas like a dB and a half off. That could’ve gone adrift overthe seven months from what we measured originally. Whenwe took the measurements, we also did an SPL readingthroughout the house and wrote down specific seatassignments, just out of paranoia, to make sure everythingwas going to be right. But we wound up not using the SPLreadings because it sounded so close. It could’ve gonereally badly, but it went really well.SL: It went so much better than we could ever haveexpected it to go. We were both kind of stunned when weplugged everything in, turned everything on, and the systemsounded a lot better. It still had the same tonal balance andthe same overall level balance between systems, but itsounded so much cleaner and more transparent. As hecticand as nerve-racking a couple days as it was, it was prettyrewarding to do it and see it happen that way.Where do you hide the transmitters on actors withskimpy clothing?JM: They built them into the bras. For the guys’ ensemblethey built them into the belts. For Bebe Neuwirth, thetransmitter was under her wig. Brenda Baxton wears hers onthe small of her back.SL: Back when the show was first designed by WilliamIvey Long, costumes-wise, he knew that he had to payattention to the radio mics back in 1997. He knew thatpeople were going to be so exposed that he built all the stuffinto the costumes. It was a really rare example of a costumedesigner, right from the get-go, thinking about where theradio mics were going to go. If someone was wearing aleather bikini top, they built an RF holder into the back of abra strap somewhere. It was very helpful.Are you both happy with the way Chicago has evolvedover the years? Are you happy with how the new soundsystem is working out?JM: Oh yes.SL: One thing with the new system is — and MaryMcFadden and I found the same thing when we replacedthe F-Type with the PM5D on the national tour — that thechorus has a clarity that it never had before. All of a sudden,we were hearing all the background vocals as individualsrather than a mush of voices. That’s one thing that’s nice andis a very clear, obvious change.What are your mics of choice for this show?JM: We have Sennheiser MKE-2 Golds for almosteverybody, except for Brenda and Bebe, who have DPA4061s. For Brenda it was a cable size issue with her hair. WithBebe, we didn’t have the opportunity to do that because wehad a different transmitter with her because her wig was sosmall. We wound up using DPAs for them.SL: We’re probably using the last set of the old SennheiserRF stuff, the first generation of stuff that had any kind ofcomputer control, so the connectors are all different. Westarted off with MKE-2s back in ‘97, which have a differentconnector type. So to actually go over to the DPAs was notjust a matter of ordering them, we also had to get these DPAsset with up these old connectors.I’ve noticed that so much technology has invadedBroadway, but there has to be a balance reached toget the right amount to augment a show withoutoverwhelming it.SL: I think that’s why people still respond to Chicago.It’s one of the few musicals where you go to it and feel likeyou’re watching some people perform onstage. It’s actuallyexciting to see a straightforward performance. There’s nopretense about it. It’s not made into a big event.Bryan Reesman is a New York-based writer who has beenpublished in the New York Times, Playboy, Billboard andMovieMaker.www.stage-directions.com • August 2007 17


Light On The SubjectBy Patrick J. ImmelPhotometrics 101How to quickly select lighting instruments for your plot.Whether you are a new lighting designer, or aseasoned veteran working in a new space, youmight run into the challenge of selecting thecorrect type of lighting fixture for your plot. The followingmethod will allow you to quickly and accuratelymake the right choice when working on either a handdraftedor CAD light plot. You might ask, “Don’t mostmodern CAD packages have the capability to providephotometric feedback?” Yes, but they also sometimesrequire substantial setup. This method is as easy asinserting a symbol into your plot and rotating it intoplace. The paper version of this method may be printedeither onto card-stock or transparency film and laidover the plot.A few words of warning regarding this method: First,although this method is fairly accurate, it is still only aneducated guess, and you might find some adjustmentsare in order once you get onsite. Second, this methodrequires some math…now don’t you wish you’d paidattention in math class!?1. The first thing we have to do is create a photometricsymbol for each lighting unit in your inventory.For this exercise, I am using ETC Source Four fixtures.Each fixture has very specific photometric data associatedwith it. This data may be found on the Web site ofthe lighting manufacturer or in the book, PhotometricsHandbook by Robert C. Mumm. The first photometricsymbol I am going to create is an ETC Source Four 36°fixture. Here is the photometric data from the ETC Website, www.etcconnect.com. (See Image 1.)2. Although I am creating these symbols in a CADprogram, you can create symbols just as accuratelyusing paper and pencil. Before we create the firstsymbol, there are a few photometric terms youshould know:a.Distance — This is more often noted as “ThrowDistance” and is the distance from the lighting unit to theobject on stage being lit.b. Beam Angle — That point where the light emitted by aninstrument is diminished by 50 percent when compared withthe output at the center of the beam.c. Field Angle — That point where the light output diminishesto 10 percent of the output at the center of the beam.(See Image 2.)3. Image 3 is a photometric symbol for an ETC SourceFour 36° fixture created in a CAD program. This is a scaledrepresentation of the beam of light produced by thefixture with the data coming from the ETC Web page.Items of note for this symbol and things to consider foryour symbols:a. The beam angle is indicated by a dashed line; the fieldangle by a solid line.b. You see quite a few numbers on the symbol. Forexample, 25’ and D16’, which means, “At a throw distanceof 25 feet, the field has a diameter of 16 feet.”c. Included, at appropriate places in the symbol, are notationsof the unit type and actual beam/field angles.d. Notice the small dashes on the symbol center line.These are used to provide a quick measurement tool.e. When using a CAD program, I create the “insertionpoint” for my photometric symbols in the center of lightingunit (yellow symbol at left of image). This approximates theC-clamp position on the fixture so I can use my program’ssnap features to “hang” it on a pipe.Image 1 Image 218 August 2007 • www.stage-directions.com


Light On The SubjectImage 5 Image 6symbol on top of the existing drawingto accomplish the same thing.When inserting this symbol, you areonly taking into account the 36 feethorizontal distance, where the “throw”distance is actually closer to 46 feet!Just slide the photometric symbol back10 feet from the pipe to give a moreaccurate representation of its beam oflight. (See Image 9.)Even before you move the fixture,notice that the fixture creates a beamof light that is already way too big (fielddiameter > 23 feet) for this purpose.Let’s try a 19° fixture. It creates a beamof light (approx. 16 feet) that is closer towhat we need. (See Image 10.)At this point, an educated guesstells me that a 19° fixture will workpretty well for any units on this position,throwing to approximatelythe plaster line area of the stage. Ifyou have doubts about any unit, atany position, shooting to any placeonstage, just try another photometricsymbol. It is easier to change unitshere on the plot than to change actualfixtures after they are hung.This method will allow you to test anyunit that is more or less an upstage and/or downstage focusing unit. Also, straightside lighting can use this method.What happens when you need todetermine the correct fixture for atop/back light or sidelight? For that,we can use many of the same techniquesdiscussed above, but now we’llneed to use a center section. Do younotice the red Popsicle-looking guy?That is our six-foot-tall figure we willbe focusing on. (See Image 11.)8. The first fixture I want to try isan ETC Source Four PAR with a WFLlens. (See Image 12.) In this instance,I believe that this fixture has too widea beam…it’s too big. Let’s try an ETCSource Four PAR with a MFL lens. (SeeImage 13.) This fixture looks like it willbe a bit more manageable!One note regarding top-, side- orhigh-side lighting positions. If your unitsfocus straight down or upstage, thismethod should be very accurate. If theyturn off to the side one way or another,your calculations will become more inaccurate.Also, a flat 90-degree sidelightshould be done in a front elevation.SummaryThis method:— will allow you to quickly choosethe correct lighting fixture for your particulardesign needs.— is not 100 percent accurate, butwill get you quite close.— Can be used in either a handdraftedor a CAD environment.Using this method, you don’t necessarilyneed to be an engineer or amath whiz. With a basic understandingof stage lighting and some commonsense, even you can create a relativelyaccurate light plot. Let’s get out thereand start lighting.Patrick Immel is an Assistant Professorof Theatre and Scenic/Lighting Designerat Northwest Missouri State Universityin Maryville, Missouri. He is also a memberof the United States Institute forTheater Technology.Image 7Image 8Image 920 August 2007 • www.stage-directions.com


Theatre SpaceBy Margaret DornausMissouri CrossingKansas City Rep expands itsofferings and options by openinga new second stage.All photos courtesy of Don Ipock PhotographyA view of the stage across the lower level of seatsThe exterior of the Copaken Stage under constructionWhen Producing Artistic Director Peter Altmansteps down from his post at Kansas City RepertoryTheatre next year, it will be with a sense of satisfactionin knowing he’s helped create a vibrant legacy forKansas City theatergoers — one that looks to the futurewhile embracing the past. Key to that effort is this month’sopening of the Rep’s second performance space, located inthe heart of Kansas City’s new Power & Light entertainmentdistrict. A boldly cooperative venture between KansasCity’s longest-running professional theatre company andcorporate giant H&R Block, Copaken Stage provides the Repwith the opportunity to enhance its mainstage offerings,which are performed at the University of Missouri-KansasCity’s 630-seat Spencer Theatre, with selections that demandthe kind of intimacy the new 320-seat proscenium venueallows.On Altman’s “wish list” since he assumed his positionat the Rep in 1999, his dream of opening a second performancespace for the Rep took shape shortly after H&R Blockannounced its intention to build a sleek, modern complexfor its new corporate headquarters in Kansas City’s up-andcomingdowntown. Because part of the design for the newbuilding included an auditorium for training H&R employees(scheduled for use only two months of each year), theRep approached H&R Block with an idea. Why not upgradethat space into a state-of-the-art theatre that the Rep couldoccupy most of the year, leaving H&R Block time to use thefacility for training during the theatre’s off-season?Construction of a comparable theatre space would costin the range of $15–$20 million, but partnership with H&RBlock has allowed the Rep to fully equip the Copaken foraround $4.8 million through a $7 million capital campaign.(The remaining $2.2 million endowment will go toward thenew theatre’s operating expenses.)Altman launched the new space with the kind of productionhe envisioned for the Copaken — Love, Janis — a piecethat chronicles the short but meteoric life of the iconic JanisJoplin, which ran from February 2 to March 18. The show,says Altman, is hip, fun, musical and the Rep’s first-everrock ‘n’ roll production. Its energy and its aim — to introducea new population of theatre-goers to the work of thevenerable, 43-year-old Rep — are enhanced by the theatre’sdowntown presence.“This is the first time ever that we’ll have walk-up ticketsales,” says Altman, adding that the theatre’s corner location,adjacent to H&R Block’s 20-story office complex, will presentstreet-front appeal that “feels like you’re going to a theatre.”An added bonus of the Copaken location is the surroundingdevelopment of Kansas City’s rapidly emergingentertainment district. Paving the way for this culturalrenaissance was the Hilton’s January 2006 revamping ofthe historic Hotel President, headquarters for the 1928Republican National Convention that nominated HerbertHoover for president, which features one of Kansas City’sfavorite jazz venues, the Drum Room. This past spring, thenearby Kansas City Convention Center’s facelift was completedwith the addition of a 46,450-square-foot ballroomand a $14 million Music Hall makeover. By fall, the SprintCenter’s 18,500-seat arena, and new home to the NationalCollegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, will complete anotherphase of the district’s transformation. And in 2009, constructionof the Metropolitan Kansas City Performing Arts Center,future home of the Kansas City Symphony and the LyricOpera, should be completed.22 August 2007 • www.stage-directions.com


Inside the new Copaken StageAll this activity translates into athriving arts scene, with the Rep —and Copaken Stage — primed for anew generation of theatre-goers. Andthat, says Altman, is something closeto his heart as well as to his artisticvision. (Before coming to Kansas City,Altman served for 18 years as foundingproducing director of the HuntingtonTheatre Company in Boston, wherehe built an audience of more than18,000 subscribers.) He envisions themainstage nurturing the downtownlocation and vice versa, as Rep patronslearn that they have a choice of venuesand productions to provide them witha true repertory experience.Altman plans to eventually offer fiveshows per season at the Copaken andat the Spencer mainstage, including theRep’s signature seasonal production ofA Christmas Carol. During its inauguralseason, however, the Copaken alsoshowcased just one other productionin addition to Love, Janis. From April27–May 20, the theatre presented theKansas City premiere of Pamela Gien’sThe Syringa Tree, the story of two families,one black and one white, and fourgenerations who struggle with SouthAfrican apartheid in the 1960s.“We’ve never had the flexibility toprovide such a broad range of showsbefore,” says Altman.With a metropolitan population ofapproximately two million, Kansas Cityalready has a lively theatre scene, withclose to 20 theatrical venues scatteredthroughout the city. The Rep considersitself to be that scene’s flagship. And it’ssafe to expect that, with the creation ofCopaken, that reputation will continueto rise even after Altman retires.But Altman, like the Rep, has nointention of resting on his laurels. It’sa safe bet that he’ll be back at theRep — guest directing either at themainstage or at the Copaken — afterhe steps down from his position asartistic director in a year or so. Butin the meantime, there’s much to bedone. There’s a new show and a newtheatre to open in a town that seems tobe bursting at the seams with culturalofferings.For more information on the Kansas City Repand Copaken Stage, visit www.kcrep.org.Margaret Dornaus is a freelance writerbased in Kansas City.Gear AlertCheck out the lighting and audioequipment used at Copaken Stage.20 S4 PAR EA w/ lens set12 Wybron CXI Color Scrollers colorscrollers2 High End Systems CMY Studio Spots1 Starklite II 1272 follow spot1 Console: ETC Obsession 21 ETC Sensor racks, 124 dimmers (3,SR48AF racks) with dimmerdoubling capability.2 High End Systems Catalyst DL 1Video Projectors.1 Hardwired ClearCom 4 channelcommunication system1 Stage Research SFX playback system1 Layla 24/96 analog/digital interfaceAudio1 Yamaha O1V 96 console2 8 channel octopre pre-amps4 Shure ULX wireless mics4 JBL PD 5322 loudspeakers6 JBL 512 M wedge monitors2 JBL VP series powered sub-woofers4 EAW JF 80 front-fill speakers1 Ashly Protea multi-effects processor8 QSC stereo power amplifiers1 Dell Power Edge computerwww.stage-directions.com • August 2007 23


School SpotlightBy Geri JeterLeader of the PackHow one school is meeting the challengesof entertainment technologiesand innovations with a newinterdisciplinaryprogram.These technical advancementsin theatrical presentation havecreated a need for a differenttype of university graduate.Visitors to Las Vegas often are surprised that only a milefrom the famous Las Vegas Strip is a large university —the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Its 350-acre campusserves over 28,000 students with 220 degree programs and a3,300-member faculty and staff. Although there are degrees inthe customary academic disciplines, the school’s location hasinspired some unusual offerings, like the Harrah Hotel College,which grants a BS in gaming management. Additionally, as LasVegas bills itself “The Entertainment Capital of the World,” it isnot surprising that the university places great importance onthe arts. The school’s College of Fine Arts offers a wide rangeof music, architecture, dance and theatre programs, but witha Las Vegas twist.Las Vegas has taken the theatrical extravaganza to theextreme with its major production shows, including the spectacularpresentations by Cirque du Soleil, in which the innovativeand forward-looking technical accomplishments arethe real stars. These technical advancements in theatricalpresentation have created a need for a different type of universitygraduate — one trained in mechanical and computerengineering, as well as in traditional theatrical design, lightingand stagecraft.UNLV has met this challenge with its new Bachelor ofScience in entertainment engineering and design (EED), aninterdisciplinary degree being developed by the UNLV Collegeof Fine Arts and the College of Engineering. The two primarydepartments involved are theatre and mechanical engineering;however, the theatre, art, architecture, film, music,mechanical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineeringand computer science departments also are involved. Thetwo main department coordinators are Joe Aldridge, coordinatorfor entertainment engineering and design in the Collegeof Fine Arts, and Dr. Dan Cook, coordinator for the College ofEngineering.The goal for the program is to provide an academic pathfor students who are interested in pursuing a career thatcombines engineering principles and emerging technologieswith traditional theatrical practices and the artistic demands ofthe entertainment industry. Students completing the requirementsfor this degree will be equipped with the skills todesign, create, evaluate and maintain the engineering systemsnow used in the entertainment industry.The impetus for the program began in the theatre departmentover 10 years ago. Joe Aldridge worked with Dr. RobertBoehm (Mechanical Engineering) and Dr. Jeffrey Koep (thenJoe Aldridge, coordinator for entertainment engineering and design in the Collegeof Fine Arts at UNLV, in front of the building that will house this new programChair of Theatre, now Dean of the College of Fine Arts) toexplore the possibilities of a combined discipline. Otherfaculty and administrators subsequently became supporters,including Dr. Darrel Pepper, former interim dean ofthe College of Engineering, Dr. Ron Sack, former dean ofEngineering, and Dr. Eric Sandgren, Dean of the College ofEngineering. According to Aldridge, “We taught a couple ofintroductory classes, mostly experimental, searching for adirection for the program. We were able to involve leaders inthe entertainment industry in the classes as guest lecturersand listened to them when they spoke of the skills, knowledgeand training that they would like to see in studentsALL PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFF SPEER24 August 2007 • www.stage-directions.com


The new UNLV Science, Engineering and Technology Building under constructionwho graduate from a theatre or engineering program andcome to them for jobs. This program has actually been developedas a reaction to those conversations and meetings withindustry leaders.”Local casino companies also have been involved in theproject, and local, regional and national companies also supportthe endeavor. To coordinate the process, the universitygroup has formed an Industry Advisory Board (IAB) comprisedof prominent companies, businesses and individuals in theentertainment industry, many of whom are the leaders in thedevelopment of new and emerging technologies in the entertainmentindustry. Names like Cirque du Soleil, Fisher TechnicalIndustries, Flying By Foy, Columbus-McKinnon, Wynn LasVegas and many others are found on the IAB, whose membershave pledged support in a variety of ways: internships for thestudents, scholarships, in-kind donations of equipment, materialsand technology and access to their research and developmentdepartments.“The support and encouragementwe have received has beennothing short of phenomenal.”– Joe Aldridge“Everyone we have engaged in discussions about whatEED should be has been excited about the possibility of theprogram becoming a reality,” says Aldridge. “The support andencouragement we have received has been nothing short ofphenomenal.”Although UNLV has not specifically solicited financial supportfor the program, many have offered. The school is currentlyengaged in writing grants to supplement the theatredepartment’s existing tool and equipment inventory. “Forthe new program, alone,” notes Aldridge, “we are lookingat acquiring $2.6 million dollars worth of equipment, tools,machines and technology systems to equip our research anddevelopment lab so our students can enter the entertainmentindustry prepared to face the challenges of the future.”The equipment planned for the new program includes aJoe Aldridge at the 2006 Parnelli Awards, announcing the Parnelli scholarshipfor the new program.CNC router, water jet cutter, lathe, and milling machine —apparatus, though commonly used in industry, is not normallyavailable to university students.Currently, there is one scholarship established exclusively forEED. Timeless Communications, publisher of Stage Directions,founded the Parnelli-PLSN/FOH Scholarship as a result of its interestand support for the program. In addition, internship opportunitiesare under negotiation and will be available once theprogram is approved. Once the degree receives the Nevada StateHigher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents approval, fundraisingactivities can commence.Establishing a new university degree program is a complicatedand lengthy process. Just recently, the proposeddegree finished its final campus committee and administrativereviews and now will be considered for approval bythe NSHE. This most likely will occur late this summer at theAugust meeting of the Board of Regents. Once the degreeis approved, the faculty needs to submit the curriculum to acampus curriculum committee for review and approval. Afterthe curriculum is approved at this level, the program facultythen will have to gain approval of the more than two dozennew courses being developed for the degree.“Our goal is to officially offer classes in the new degreeprogram in spring 2008,” says Aldridge. “The most arduouspart of the process has been completed, and we are ready tobegin the next phase of completing syllabi and descriptionsfor the new courses.” The university anticipates being able totake applications for the program in early fall 2007.“Ideally we will accept 30 students per year into the program.Prospective students will have to meet UNLV’s generaladmission criteria and may be asked to submit a portfolio. Thecurriculum is quite restrictive, and all EED classes will have tobe taken sequentially, when offered,” continues Aldridge. “Bythe end of the program’s fourth year, we hope to have 120students enrolled. We are really interested in attracting thebest and the brightest students to this program, so we willtend to be a bit selective.”For more information, visit http://www.eed.egr.unlv.edu/index.cfm or contact Joe Aldridge at joe.aldridge@unlv.edu.www.stage-directions.com • August 2007 25


FeatureBy Evan HenersonThe Creamof the CropThese high schools boast someof the finest technical theatreprograms in the country.From the Culver City High School production of ChessBaltimore School of the ArtsBaltimore, MarylandThe actors who have cut their teethat the Baltimore School of the Arts maygrab the headlines (or, in the case ofJada Pinkett Smith, have a campus facilitynamed in their honor), but studentsin the stage production and designtrack work just as hard and are just asprepared when they complete the programand progress to the next step.Within the program of 300 students,some six seniors graduate every yearfrom stage design, although programofficials hope that number will eventuallydouble. Recent graduates have hitthe road with touring bands as audioengineers, worked as stagehands inNew York or enrolled at the NorthCarolina School of the Arts. BSA isa public high school, which typicallygives its graduates a small scholarshipupon graduation.Actors and production students arefrequently thrown together in classessuch as the introduction to production.“It’s sort of a sampler of things actorsneed to know to talk to the peoplearound them,” says Paul Christensen,the program’s production manager andits only full-time design employee. “Wework heavily on working as a team andcooperating. We feel really strongly thatif you’re going to be doing set, costumeor lighting design, it’s not just your workthat matters. It’s got to work in contextwith what everybody else is doing.”The school day at BSA is long: 8:30 a.m.to 4:10 p.m., half of which is spent onacademics, the rest in the student’sarea of concentration. Set design andcostume design are covered in eachof the four years along with drafting,stage management and sound.Production students have the flexibilityto match their interests with thecourse curriculum.According to Christensen, methodicalthinking and getting students tobreak large tasks into smaller, moremanageable tasks are key componentsof the program. Student designerswork on two productions a year, aswell as producing the show for thedance department.Culver City High School ofVisual and Performing ArtsCulver City, CaliforniaThe proximity of Hollywood hasbeen known to benefit students at thisrelatively new three-year design program,which is part of the public CulverCity High School (meaning admissionis free apart from a $150 per semesterfee). Most of the faculty — 12 innumber — bounces back and forthbetween industry gigs and the school.Why do they do it? For the samereason the students choose to returnfor an additional four to seven hoursa day once the regular classes haveended.“Everyone who’s here, from studentsto faculty, wants to be here,”says Joseph Horn, the program’s creativedirector. “The professional facultyis taking time out of their schedule tocome and teach these students. I’mtaking time out of mine. There’s thatspecial feeling that comes with workingwith high school students who arethis advanced.”The 30 design majors take threeyears of classes in stagecraft andtechnical theatre in addition to theirregular high school courses. Lightingdesign and visual styles are interspersedwith specialized classes suchas puppetry and props fabrication.During any given academic year, studentsmay find themselves workingon four to six productions.“The coolest thing about dealingwith students these ages as opposedto professionals: the kids just don’tknow what’s not possible,” Horn says.“They don’t have enough experienceto know how difficult something is sothey pretty much just do it.”The finale of Ragtime produced by Dr. Phillips High School.26 August 2007 • www.stage-directions.com


Joseph HornHorn estimates that half the designgraduates go on to major in theatrearts, and program alumni have goneon to study at prestigious institutionssuch as New York University’sTisch School of the Arts and CaliforniaInstitute of the Arts.“Some of our graduates enroll incompletely different fields of study,”Horn says. “But the work ethic weinstill in them caries on regardless ofwhether they continue in theatre.”Duke Ellington School of the ArtsWashington, D.C.Administrators at Ellington maysometimes consider their technicaltheatre program as “a hidden jewel,”but professionals who peruse theprogram graduates’ portfolios knowthat they’re looking at people withwell-above-average training.DESA draws from inner-city populations,often seeking out studentswith skills in such disciplines aswoodworking, computers, electronicsand the like. Over the three tofour years they spend at Ellington(a public school), they study basicstagecraft, lighting and sound designand stage management.The day is divided, with morningacademic classes followed byarts-related classes in the afternoon,in addition to evening productionwork. With between three and fourshows per month going up in thetheatre and dance department, studentdesigners, about 20 in number,are kept plenty busy.“If you do a couple of shows permonth for three years, you end upwith a lot of work,” said HowardJames, chairman of the technicalKaren Rugeriowww.stage-directions.com • August 2007 27


FeatureDana TaylorDana TaylorAn interior view of theMount Vernon HighSchool theatretheatre department, adding thatsome students begin as freshmen.“They usually walk away with a fiveinchbinder of their work.”“Some go straight into the worldand are doing well,” James says of hisgraduates. “A lot of them go into a fullscalesound production and recordingtrade school. Every which way you cango, they’ve gone there.”Dr. Phillips High SchoolOrlando, Florida“You can’t get the technologyin book work,” says Karen Rugerio,Dr. Phillips High School’s Directorof Theatre. “You have to be able toaccess the technology.”The school’s approach and facilitiesback up the sentiment. The technicaltrack students at the Orlando-basedtheatre and arts magnet program learndrafting, digital sound and lighting. Forits “cash cow” production of Disney’sHigh School Musical, students got ataste of advanced Whole Hog lighting.For an upcoming production of Singin’in the Rain, they’ll work with movingsets and actual on-stage rain.Technical track and performancestudents alike have to put in 10 hoursevery nine weeks on crew to get anappreciation for all the elements thatgo into a performance. During thethird and fourth years, students also areassembling their portfolios — anotherkey component of the program.“Our struggle is always to get thelatest equipment and get updatedwith technology,” says Rugerio. “Newdigital sound programming for soundcues is something nobody has at thehigh school level. It’s a real advantagefor the students when they walk into aplace like North Carolina School of theArts where everything is digital.”NCSA has proven to be a pipeline forDr. Phillips students, especially wherelighting is concerned. Other designertrack graduates have moved on to workat the Cincinnati Opera and to study atprograms ranging from SUNY Purchaseto California Institute of the Arts.Interlochen Arts AcademyInterlochen, MichiganLess than 10 percent of the nearly70 theatre students at the 45-year-oldMichigan boarding school have a concentrationin design and technical theatre,but those students are anythingbut under-appreciated or forgotten.“We tend to give more awards andmerit money to the design studentsthan we do to the performance students.They’re rarer,” says Dr. DavidMontee, director of theatre for theInterlochen Arts Center, which housesboth the high-school academy andthe summer program.That financial assistance comes inhandy, given Interlochen’s $30,000annual tuition. Those selected for theacademy, though, reap the benefitsof being allowed to craft significantportions of their own curriculum,getting hands-on design experiencedesigning school productions andhaving access to such amenities as afull costume shop and state-of-the-artfacilities. The Center for the Arts wonthe National Medal of Arts for 2006.The program’s 10 performance anddesign staff members give studentsa lot of opportunity for hands-on,one-on-one work. “They get greaterdepth,” says Montee, “than I thinkthey would at a high school wherethey might have many wonderfulteachers, but probably not an entirestaff of specialists in their areas.”It’s certainly been helpful for alumniwho include — on the performancefront — Tony Award-winning SpringAwakening co-producer Tom Hulceand Coast of Utopia acting winnerJennifer Ehle. Design alumni includerecent design graduate Kelli desJarlais who accepted a scholarshipat the Royal Scottish Academy Musicand Drama at Glasgow, and DaneLaffrey, who went from Interlochen toSydney, Australia, and is now a freelancedesigner in New York City.Mt. Vernon High SchoolEvansville, IndianaThough still very much in highschool, students at the Evansville,Indiana-based Mt. Vernon are accustomedto being treated like professionals— both by their teachers andby their peers in the industry. Handsontraining and regular assignments atother high schools and organizationshave developed the students’ sense ofself-esteem.“They’re given responsibilities, andthey know that what they do reallydoes count,” says Dana Taylor, directorof technical theatre. ”We had adance recital, and we wrote out 200light cues. For the most part, my stu-28 August 2007 • www.stage-directions.com


From Mount Vernon High School’s production of The DivinersPictured: Tristan Mathews, Seneca Weintraut and Laura Walter.dent was running the light board,doing the programming, and mixingconventional and automated, whichis what she has to do to meet theclient’s need. For her, there’s a greatsense of pride knowing ‘I know howto do this, and I can do it well.’”The technical theatre program,spanning the disciplines of lighting,costume, audio and scenic design,numbers around 90 students peryear. When the numbers are at theirtypical high levels, freshmen areexcluded. There have been instances,Taylor says, where passionateseventh and eighth graders havelobbied him for early consideration.The block scheduling and rotationspermit students to work theequivalent of an entire day to meet agiven production’s need. Mt. Vernonstudents get extra guidance duringannual workshops presented by highschool chapters of the United StatesInstitute for Theatre Technology.Some financial incentives areavailable as well. The family ofalumni Eric Woolsey, currently productioncoordinator at the OperaTheatre of St. Louis, establisheda $1,000 scholarship in his name.Other alumni have gone on towork at the University of MichiganDepartment of Music and at KentState summer theatre.Evan Henerson is a lifestyle/featureswriter who covers theatre for the LosAngeles Daily News.www.stage-directions.com • August 2007 29


FeatureBy Jason PritchardAnalyzing AcousticsOrnate plasterwork, as seen here from the State Theatre in LosAngeles, serves as beautiful and effective acoustic diffusion.The three most common issues:what they are and how you canresolve them.Acoustics is a complex science, requiring the study ofmath and physics, as well as knowledge of constructiontechniques and materials. Often the first stumblingblock in discussing the topic is vocabulary. In discoveringthe vocabulary, we will also discuss a few common problemsand provide a little direction to rectify some commonacoustic issues. Throughout the article I will refer to specificaudio clips that demonstrate the acoustic phenomenon I amtouching on. These clips can be listened to online at www.stage-directions.com/analyzingacoustics.ChallengesEchoes are reflections that occur long enough after theoriginal signal, in which they sound separate from the originalsignal. Echoes can be distracting and difficult for performerson stage and distracting for audience members. (Clip 1,Echo Example.) Echoes also decrease intelligibility. They arethe polar opposites of “early reflections,” which are echoesthat happen within a few milliseconds of the original sound(Clip 2, Early Reflections Example). Where an echo soundslike a separate event, early reflections are echoes that tendto blend with the original sound and give the impressionof thickening it. Early reflections can be favorable for theperformers on stage because early reflections often are perceivedas “support from the house” — a very helpful thingfor the performer.“Reverberation” is the collection of all the reflected soundsin an auditorium. Reverberation is often characterized as the“sound of the room.” It can be both helpful and harmful tothe program material being presented in the space, andcertain program materials work better with some reverberationcharacteristics than with others. For example, optimumreverberation times can vary from less than a second in arecording studio space to about a second in a lecture hallor movie theatre, 1.5 to 2 seconds for a theatre or musicperformance space up to 2.2 seconds in a symphony hall. Inaddition to reverberation time, one must also consider thetimbre or “color” of the reverberation. Different materialsreflect and absorb sound waves at different frequencies. Forinstance, 14 oz. drape at 50 percent fullness absorbs six timesas much sound at 1 kHz as it does at 125 Hz. The net effectcan be a room that sounds dark (Clip 3, Dark Room) or lightand bright (Clip 4, Bright Room). (Both Clips have 1.8-secondreverb time.)“Standing Waves” are characterized by lack of vibration atcertain points, between which areas of maximum vibrationoccur. Standing waves can be demonstrated by playing a tone(usually a low tone) through a speaker in a room. One thenmoves around the room, noticing how the level of the tonechanges based on listening position. In most rooms, some ofthis effect can be attributed to standing waves. While certainamounts of echo, early reflection and reverberation are desirable,standing waves are almost never desirable and can bedifficult to eliminate completely. Square rooms or rooms withparallel surfaces most often create standing waves.Echoes, reverberation and standing waves are all productsof sound waves bouncing off surfaces. Three things canbe done to the surfaces to lessen or change the amount of30 August 2007 • www.stage-directions.com


Robert Berger and Anne ConserClose-up of State Theatre plasterwork.bounce that occurs. Each of the treatmentsaffects each of the challenges inunique ways.TreatmentsAbsorption is best accomplishedwith fiberglass or other fibrous naturalmaterials. Contrary to conventional wisdom,carpet is not as good at absorbingacoustic energy as these materials. Mostcarpeting does exhibit some absorptiveproperties at some frequencies, but alsoefficiently reflects sound energy at otherfrequencies, so it should be used withcaution. Synthetic foam is also generallynot as efficient as fiberglass. Fiberglassinsulation is inexpensive, readily availableand naturally fire resistant. Foracoustic applications, semi-rigid fiberglasspanels, such as Owens Corning 700series of products, are well suited.These semi-rigid panels can bemounted in frames or mounted directlyto walls using construction adhesive. Aframe also allows acoustically transparentmaterial to be easily attached tothe panel and is used for both aestheticreasons and the practical purpose ofAn Owens Corning panel isgood sound-absorptive material.Reflection:Most of the soundis reflected whichis almost as loud asincoming soundAbsorption:Absorbing poweris determined bythe material usedDiffusion:Scatters sounddepending on thedesired effectFigure 1 1www.stage-directions.com • August 2007 31


FeatureFigure 2No reflective panels around stage.Reflective panels to direct the sound.keeping the fiberglass contained. For a less permanent installation,a bag may be fashioned from acoustically transparentmaterial into which a panel of fiberglass can be inserted.These panels can then be hung on a wall or suspended fromthe ceiling. Because the “bags” are finished on both sides,they can be hung in the middle of rooms and used as roomdividers. They also happen to be quite light and easy tohandle. It is important that the material be acoustically transparent,as the sound needs to be able to travel through thematerial and be absorbed by the fiberglass underneath.Acoustically transparent fabric comes in many colorsand patterns. Fabric made for industrial use is generallyfire rated and very resilient. (See Guilford of Maine,sold through www.acousticalsolutions.com or www.silentsource.com.)Some fabric manufactured for the audioindustry is actually woven from vinyl-coated fiberglass. Inaddition to being acoustically transparent, it is imperviousto staining and carries a top fire rating (www.acoustonegrillecloth.com).Materials made for the diffusion of sound waves are interesting.There is a wide range of products available with differentlooks and varying properties. Most of the shapes are basedon mathematically generated patterns for diffusing acousticenergy. Diffusion panels can be made of wood, extruded orvacuformed plastic, or constructed from thin panels comprisedof several layers of materials, which in combination arecapable of diffusing sound waves evenly. Before the advent ofmathematically designed diffusion patterns, designers usedornate plasterwork, friezes and statuary to provide solid, yetuneven, surfaces off of which sound waves can reflect. Thisconcept often can be an acceptable, although less precise,method of diffusing sound waves. Old movie houses constructedin the first half of the 20th century provide manygreat examples of this type of diffusion. Diffusion is an importanttool because it can be used to combat echoes withoutreducing the overall acoustic energy in the room, as wouldbe typical of absorptive panels. When a sound wave impactsa diffusive surface, the sound waves are reflected in multipledirections, unlike a flat surface, which would reflect the waveat an angle opposite to the angle of incidence.Creating reflective surfaces is fairly easy. A flat, rigid surfaceis an effective reflector. The lowest frequency that apanel can effectively reflect is determined by the size of thesurface. Larger surfaces reflect lower frequencies more efficiently.For acoustic performances or for sound-reinforcedtheatre requiring a natural sound, the placement of reflectivesurfaces behind or above can help to direct sound off of thestage and into the audience. Reflective surfaces around thestage also help to create early reflections, which can helpperformers onstage to hear themselves. (See Figure 2.)Which tool works best? As with most things, there is noone right answer. Combinations of these tools often areapplied to create a balance between absorbing, diffusingand reflecting sound waves.A couple of things to look for: To combat standing waves,try to eliminate parallel walls. Building walls out to createuneven relationships with other walls is a good place tostart. Take care to fill any voids with fiberglass insulation.The void spaces are resonant cavities and can do more harmthan good. Additionally, covering about 50 percent of awall surface with absorptive material reduces reflections.Alternatively, placing sculpture or sculpted wall hangings ona flat wall can be an effective and attractive diffusive treatment.Too much absorption will make a room sound dead.Using diffusion instead can break up the echo without eliminatingthe acoustic energy completely.Acoustics is a very complicated science. Hiring a goodacoustics consultant is highly recommended. Be sure to getreferences and, if you can, go and listen to spaces that weretreated using the consultant’s recommendations. When itcomes to hanging or placing materials on walls and ceilings,be sure to check with local building codes to make certainyou adhere to local building and fire code.Jason Pritchard is head of audio for Cirque du Soleil’sproduction of LOVE.Resources411For more info on obtaining great acoustics, visit these Web sites:www.readyacoustics.comwww.owenscorning.com/comminsul/products.aspwww.controlnoise.comwww.rpginc.comwww.acoustonegrillecloth.comwww.silentsource.comwww.acousticalsolutions.comwww.wengercorp.comen.wikibooks.org/wiki/Engineering_Acoustics32 August 2007 • www.stage-directions.com


Special Production Planning SectionMen For All SeasonsT h r e e a r t i s t i c d i r e c t o r s w e i g h i n o n t h e a r t o f p i c k i n g p l a y s .By Kevin M. MitchellWe want to think that theatresare above the influence ofsomething as base as theeconomy, but it is a reality that thetougher the times and the darker thetimes, the more challenging it is toplan a season. Do you program to keepyour subscribers happy and renewing,or do you reach out to new audiences?New works or classics? Comedies ordramas? And about that ever-elusive“cutting-edge” work — is cutting-edgesometimes too… cutting-edge?The answer seems to be “all of theabove.”Most artistic directors agree planningis a never-ending process. “Theprocess never really begins or ends,”says Peter Altman of the MissouriRepertory Theatre. “You’re alwayslooking for material — plays that youhope the theatre will do at some point.At any given time, I have at least adozen plays I want very much for mytheatre to do.”The local history can be a source ofinspiration. An example of this is theArkansas Repertory Theatre productionof It Happened in Little Rock, a playbased on oral testimonies about thedesegregation crisis that shook thenation 50 years ago. “This project hasbeen in the works a long time and issignificant not only for Little Rock, butfor the entire civil rights movement,”says Artistic Director Robert Hupp.“That’s key for us in terms of selection— knowing our community.”“We look for things that are edgyand push the envelope,” says MichaelJohn Garcés, who is the new artisticdirector of Los Angeles’ CornerstoneTheater. But even for a theater that isbuilt on new cutting-edge work, cansomething be too cutting edge?“This last season we worked withavant-garde puppeteer Paul Zaloom,”continues Garcés. “That was a lot offun, but there was a lot of conversationcourtesy of Missouri Repertory Theatreduring the show about how we madethe show make sense to the community.We want work that challengesus as opposed to things that are easilydigestible, but line-by-line, we stillconsider the audience.”The following is a look at how threedifferent artistic directors entertain,challenge and keep theatre relevant.Peter AltmanMissouri Repertory TheatreKansas City, MOPeter Altman started his illustriouscareer as a theatre critic for newspapersand was invited to be the literarymanager for Michael Langham whenhe took over as artistic director of therevered Guthrie Theater in Minneapolisin the early 1970s. From there, Altmanwent to Boston’s Huntington Theatrewhere he served as producing directorfor 18 years. In 2000, he receivedthe call to become artistic director ofthe Missouri Repertory Theatre in KansasCity. Recently, SD caught him on the eveof his retirement as he was finishing uphis last season.“The process of planning a seasonhas to start with the core values of thetheatre and the artistic director,” Altmansays. “Understanding what the theatrecares about, what the artistic directorcares about and being able to embracethe literary, social, political and historicalvalues of the community to achieve atheatre able to work at the highest levelare all key factors.”Altman looks for projects thathave sustaining power. Award-winningwork alone does not impresshim. “Just because it won a Pulitzerin 2002 doesn’t make it more relevanttoday than if it didn’t.” Inother cases, he finds himself excitedabout something that is hot, buthe can’t get the rights to it whenhe wants it, and when he can getthe rights to it, the moment haspassed.Altman operates on the premisethat a high percentage of the audienceis returning subscribers, andfor those people, a trust has beenbuilt. If the trust is nurtured, and theseason selected well, then they willcome see plays they haven’t heardof. And providing some new or evenedgy work is important. “Otherwiseyou’ll just have a program of chestnuts,”he notes. “It’s important asa creative leader to introduce newwork by yet unknown authors.” Forhim, that also includes looking outof the country.“Years ago I found a play in thistiny fringe theatre in London,” recallsDenis Arndt in the MissouriRep production of King LearCourtesy of Missouri RepertoryTheatre/Don Ipock Photographywww.stage-directions.com • August 2007 33


Special Production Planning SectionAltman. “It was by Sonja Linden andcalled Lady from Rwanda. We didthe American premiere of it, and itwas an artistic and commercial success.So that’s part of our mission.”Some classics seem worthy wheneveryou can get the budget and theright people involved. Altman citesKing Lear and St. Joan, two projectshe staged recently, as examples.Once the decision to include a playhas been made, finding the rightdirector who is right to do that playis an art form as well. A talenteddirector might love a play you wantto do, but they may want to do arevisionist take on it or do it in amanner that would cause the budgetto balloon.Altman believes an artistic directorcan shape the taste of thetheatre-going public.But you have to start offon the right foot. “Youonly have one beginning,and you needto be able to presentprojects for the openingprogram that willindicate the general direction you’llbe taking the theatre,” he explains.“Then you can earn the right to bebraver as you go along. If you’retoo far ahead of the local audience,they won’t make the journey withyou.”Robert HuppArkansas Repertory TheatreLittle Rock, ARIt’s a special person who leavesthe theatre scene of New York forone in Arkansas, but Robert Huppdid, and he loves it. “It’s been agreat place for me personally andartistically,” he says. “When I was inNew York, there were a couple hundrednonprofit theatres on a singleisland. Here, there is only one in thestate. I wanted to go somewherewhere a theatre could make a significantcultural contribution, andthe Arkansas Rep does that.”“If I could anticipate exactly howan audience is going to respond tosomething, I’d make a fortune!”— Robert HuppCourtesy of Arkansas RepMichael Stewart in the Arkansas Rep production ofOf Mice and MenCourtesy of Arkansas RepHupp is in his eighth season as artisticdirector in Little Rock. Before that, hespent nine seasons as artistic directorof New York’s Jean Cocteau RepertoryTheatre. Hupp is also an accomplisheddirector and recently directed the premiereof Glyn Maxwell’s Wolfpit for thePhoenix Theatre Ensemble in New York.His 350-seat theatre puts on sixor seven shows a season. “Our boardis very active, but it doesn’t play arole in play selection,” says Hupp. “Wework with the staff, and they are veryinvolved. Although we have lots ofconversations about what works wewant to do for a particular season, theartistic director has the final word.”Achieving a good mix during anygiven season can include the winner ofthe Kaufman & Hart Prize for AmericanComedy, something they created sixyears ago. Usually there is a Shakespearepiece, which they then take on touraround the state. “We just created anew development project, ‘Voices ofthe River,’ for African-American andLatino Playwrights,” adds Hupp.Hupp, who has been running theatresfor over 20 years, laughs and says,“If I could anticipate exactly how anaudience is going to respond to something,I’d make a fortune!” So, in additionto doing new and original works,his season subscribers can alwayscount on a large American musicalclassic. But sometimes those showsaren’t always the biggest draw. DavidRambo’s God’s Man in Texas, a smallJohn McCabeplay with religious themes, has beenthe highest grossing show for him duringhis tenure. “Our audience, includingthe religious community, turnedout in droves for that,” says Hupp.Not always playing it safe elicits theoccasional furrowed brow. “I don’t thinkour audience is narrow at all, and it isvery open to exploring new issues,” hesays. “But I’ll get stopped in the grocerystore and hear a complaint about a particularshow. Our commitment is to dothe best possible work, with the higheststandards, and we find our audience issophisticated and discerning.”And what are the biggestmistakes an artisticdirector can make whenplanning a season?“First, it is alwaysimportant to be mindfulof artistic excellence. Weare called to make compromisesso often in our work, and thenumber-one goal should always be theexcellence of the work, however an artisticdirector might define that. Second,you must get to know your communityand let them know you. Third, don’tassume you have all the answers.”Michael John GarcésCornerstone Theatre CompanyLos Angeles, CA34 August 2007 • www.stage-directions.com


Actor-writer-director MichaelJohn Garcés has just added anotherhyphenate to his resumé: artisticdirector. He’s directed at HartfordStage Company, New York TheatreWorkshop, Second Stage and theHuntington Theatre, among others.His full-length plays includepoint of departure and Los Illegals,and he has twice been in residencewith a consensus-run collective,Sna Jtz’ibajom, in the highlandsof Chiapas, Mexico, where he collaboratedwith the Mayan community.All of this prepared himwell for his latest adventure atthe Cornerstone, where we findhim winding down from his firstseason as artistic director.Choosing a season at Cornerstoneis “a complicated, multipart process,”Garcés explains. “There’san ensemble of artists, plus thestaff and board, and the artisticdirector goes to them with suggestions.If there is a writer I’mexcited about working with, or atheme I’m interested in, I pitch itto them. The ensemble makes thedecision.” The group of about 15generally meets every two weeks,and Garcés stresses they all haveto consent, which is not the sameas agreeing on every choice. Intheory, one ensemble membercould block the decision to do aspecific show that the other 14are excited about. “But people willrarely block. It’s truly an ensemble,though they look to the artisticdirector for leadership.”Cornerstone, currently celebratingits 20th anniversary, regularlyincludes special programsand productions that reach outto the multi-ethnic population inLos Angeles. The company is alsounique in that all productionsare new works, usually by newwriters, though they occasionallypresent an adaptation of a novelor memoir. It’s a lot for a newartistic director to take on, andGarcés says he spent his first severalmonths discussing what he’dlike to see the theatre doing inthe next five years. He speaks ofbuilding seasons on themes suchas justice, immigration, reproductiverights, corporal punishmentand incarceration.“For the next season, we’vegot five writers commissionedfor works — and four of thosealready have directors,” he says.For the members of Cornerstone,it’s more about picking a writerthan a play.“I think an artistic directorcan affect the taste of the theatregoingpublic,” Garcés says. “ButI think it’s a two-way street.We’re affected by how peopleare affected by a show. You don’thave to give in to the audience.And if you do a show and no oneis rattled, you have to look atwhat you’re doing!”www.stage-directions.com • August 2007 35


Special Production Planning SectionGetting TheWord OutSmart, savvy strategies for marketing your new seasonBy Lisa MulcahyNow that you’ve worked really hard programmingyour company’s next slate of offerings, it’s just a matterof letting the world know about your new season.To help draw the biggest crowds to your theatre, you’ll needto examine your marketing strategies.People PowerMost theatres manage their publicity in one of two ways: bymaintaining an in-house marketing director and/or team or byhiring an outside publicist. There are pros and cons to doing yourpromotion through either of these methods. An advantage ofworking in-house is your intimate knowledge of your theatre’sproductions. But if you’re short-staffed, you’re going to becomeoverextended and exhausted. You need to be at the top of yourgame to promote your product, which is your theatre’s season.If you decide it’s better to hire an outside publicist, amajor benefit may be the objectivity that he or she willbring to the job. However, outside publicists tend to jugglemany clients at once, so make sure you don’t get lost in theshuffle. Ask your friends and associates at other theatres forrecommendations, then interview no less than five publicistsbefore making your choice. Asking the following questionscan help you glean crucial information about the person’sorganizational skills, interest in and awareness of your specificproduct, networking abilities and general work ethic:• During the past year, which one of our productions do youthink was marketed well? Which production would you havemarketed differently, and how would you have done so?• How have you specifically built up your media contactlist? Who do you envision getting most excited about ourseason's upcoming work, and how do you intend to bring itto their attention?• What do you consider to be reasonable deadline time toget press releases to media contacts?Remember: You always want the publicist who representsyou to be friendly, positive, and most important, courteous.Promotion in MotionOnce you’ve hired the right publicist, they will need toreview the workings of your current marketing plan. Somuch of quality promotion is rooted in plain, old-fashionedcommon sense, but it’s amazing how even the most experiencedtheatre pros lose that basic practicality. Educate yourselvesin the following no-fail rules of effective marketing:Think Outside the Box.“Even if you’re doing a well-known play, such as aShakespeare piece, don’t assume your audience alreadyknows everything about A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” pointsout Deb Pickman, a veteran publicist who is currently themarketing and communications manager for the Universityof British Columbia’s theatre department.“Pull provocative lines out of the writing and use them inyour press release. Look on the Internet for interesting factsor trivia about your play. Talk to your director about theirvision for this particular production. All these bits and piecescan be used to focus your release’s message and communicatehow wonderful and unique your production is.”Image Is Everything.Creating the perfect signature visual for your theatremeans never settling for less than the best. “Use a great colorphoto,” advises Pickman. “Have your photographer take 50rolls of film if you must. Your photo should be highly evocativeof the show you’re advertising. Focus on your actor’sface for the image: your performer should be acting in characterin the photo. A clear image on your posters is crucial.Your potential audience shouldn’t have to read a word tounderstand your show’s concept. If the design isn’t arresting,they won’t read it.”Choose Your Words Carefully.Press releases should be succinct. “Press releases shouldrun 200 to 300 words on the average,” says Pickman. “Ane-mail release works best if it’s kept to about 50 words. Also,if you’re doing a mass mailing via e-mail, watch your subjectline. Writing ‘Free Tickets’ is always good. Make it fun — ifpeople don’t think your show’s going to change their life forthe better, they’re not coming”Win Over Your Critics.“Know where your media’s head is at,” says Pickman. “Arethey clued in to cultural tourists as well as their local readers?Pitch every writer and editor you know who might be able togive you space. Also, use a personal approach. When preparinga really nice press release package, a thing I always dois enclose a handwritten note on beautifully colored paper— that personal touch is rare, and it gets the attention of theperson you’re contacting. In addition to the basic elements,like the press release, photo, bios of personnel, fact sheetabout the play and performance/ticket information, I also liketo put something free and fun inside — a pencil or key chainwith the theatre company’s logo.”36 August 2007 • www.stage-directions.com


Now Playing Austin’s home page, which provides easy-to-navigate detailsabout arts and venues for the Austin areaWorking the WebThe Internet can be an effectivepromotional tool for any theatreorganization, but many companiesthat try to use various modes ofWeb marketing face some pitfalls.Updating content on Web sites, Weblistings or e-mail contact lists can belabor-intensive. Also, standing outfrom a sea of competing online promoscan be challenging. And how doyou know you’re targeting the rightcustomer online?Many theatre organizations havenavigated Internet promotion verysuccessfully by hiring an e-marketingcompany to help them everystep of the way. E-marketing firmscan be invaluable for a number ofreasons: they do all the work foryou to make your season sound ascommercially appealing as possible,they take complete responsibility forhandling your technical essentialsand they hook you up with potentialcustomer populations you neverknew you had. BeDynamic Inc. (www.bedynamic.com), a company basedin Seattle, provides the travel andtourism industry with single-sourceInternet information that promotescultural, arts, entertainment andsports events in numerous destinationcities; it has become a significantand emerging resource for theatrecompanies across the country.“BeDynamic’s approach hasalways been to see the theatres andorganizations within a destinationas our strategic partners,” explainsNancy Lemeuix, CPO of the company.“They’ve pulled all their informationtogether andneed help marketingit, plus help managingall that on anongoing basis. Wehelp them with thatby having an organizationsend us theirinformation directly;we can produce thatinformation in a singleInternet sourceso more people cansee it. We targethotels, airlines, anytravel supplier who is really tryingto promote a destination to selltheir product.”Even though BeDynamic fullyfacilitates the process for its clients,those clients’ needs remain top priority.“We represent an organizationas they are trying to represent themselves,”says Lemueix. “We need toknow how a theatre organizationwants to be represented. Is a company’spress release and marketingmaterial really where they want tobe? If so, great, but if not, the companycan have a conversation with us.We don’t try to editorialize. Becausewe’re working typically with Webcopy, we do condense some pressreleases by pulling out the informationour clients want. We keep thefacts — the nature of what a theatreevent is intended to be.”Latifah Taormina, executivedirector of the Austin (Texas) Circleof Theatres, uses this form of e-marketing to create a comprehensiveevents calendar for her organization.continued on page 42This page is an example of adetailed venue page, which isfrequently requested by artspatrons.www.stage-directions.com • August 2007 37


Show BusinessBy Jacob CoakleyLateral MovementSubscription packages can be changed to serve a larger audience.This month, I’m going to take a look at a few projectsmeant to move the idea of subscriptions ina different direction.In 2003, Shotgun Players in Berkeley, Calif., made itsentire season free. Heading into its 11th season, Shotgunwas renting space at the 400-seat Julia Morgan Theatre.Their other venue was a public park where they performedfree theatre in a limited summertime engagement. Thoughfree, these productions were very profitable. Consequently,Patrick Dooley, artistic director of Shotgun, made his entireseason free. The reaction from the local press, foundationsand patrons was overwhelming. Foundations and individualdonors cut large checks to support the experiment, and thepacked houses contributed to a party-like atmosphere atthe shows, which encouraged more giving when the companyasked for donations after each show.In the middle of the season, though, Shotgun was giventhe opportunity to purchase its own theatre. Under othercircumstances, this would have been a good thing, yet itbecame a liability to free theatre. Instead of having space for400, there was only enough for 100, which led to long waitsand struggles for tickets. Rather than continuing the feelgoodatmosphere of a larger house, the smaller audienceswere much more standoffish; hence, they gave less money.Shotgun decided it needed to charge admission for thenext season, but to keep the spirit of “free” alive, the companypriced the tickets on a sliding scale. Over time, however,even this proved untenable.“After a while audiences were like, ‘Why am I giving $25when everyone else is giving $10?’” says Dooley. “And theypaid less and less and less.”But Dooley still thinks free theatre can work, if the houseis large enough. He points to the fact that donations at thefree summer events continue to track up. “We continue toaverage 50 cents more each year per person,” he says.They’re not offering theatre for free, but the League ofChicago Theatres is trying to make the subscription modelapply to a lower economic bracket than it has in the past.First, the League is leveraging its 25-year relationship withChicago theatres to offer centralized, online box office servicesfor member theatres.“We have 200 theatres that represent the League ofChicago theatres,” says Lyle Allen, executive director of theLeague. “Half of our members are small and emerging theatresthat have budgets of $100K or less. Most of these folksdon’t even have box office environments in place. What weneed is to step in and help these theatres with capturingthose full-price advance ticket sales.”Once smaller theatres begin selling tickets online throughwww.chicagoplays.com, the League will already have theirseating charts and a schedule of shows — it’s an easy leap tohelp these theatres build and promote their own subscriptioncampaign. Theatres that had never had the resources toopen up a subscription campaign now can.More important, since all this information will be in onelocation, not scattered throughout individual theatre databases,the leverage of the information is that much greater.“If we can target a customer that’s going to three theatresthroughout Chicago, we can share that informationwith the other theatres and start to build subscriptionsbased on customer interest,” says Allen.A group of Chicago theatres has already moved in thatdirection. The “Looks Like Chicago” project, spearheaded byJamil Khoury of the Silk Road Theatre Project, aims to offer asubscription package to four theatre companies, each witha different mission and a different audience.In the concept paper for Looks Like Chicago, the packageis described as “a flexible subscription series that offers subscribersopportunities to attend plays produced by local theatrecompanies respectively committed to African-American(Congo Square Theatre Company), Asian and Middle Eastern-American (Silk Road Theatre Project), European-American(Remy Bumppo Theatre Company) and Latino-American(Teatro Vista – Theatre With a View) representation.”When I spoke with Khoury, he was in the early phasesof the project and still trying to nail down funding, but hehad received approvals from the boards of all four theatres,even though it involved discounting tickets and there wereconcerns about audience poaching.“No one wanted it to undermine his or her own subscriptiondrive. They didn’t want to undermine their own funding efforts,”says Khoury. “So it was really a matter of assuaging those concernsand identifying that this really is just a gain. You’re gainingaudience members you wouldn’t have otherwise.”The League will collect all the data on the buyers, and theparticipating theatres will have access to all the informationabout the subscribers, ensuring that all theatres receive thedata on their new audiences.“The League’s participation becomes so important, sothat everything’s transparent. So much about this is collectingdata,” says Khoury. “We’re going to try to collect ascomprehensive a profile of our buyers as we can.”This data will help with the theatres’ funding, demonstratingwhat segments of the audience they’re reaching,but it’s also a very concrete way to try and reverse the trendin downward subscriptions — offer a lot more of them andto a more diverse audience.Let me know how you sell more tickets at jcoakley@stagedirections.com.38 August 2007 • www.stage-directions.com


TD TalkBy Dave McGinnisNever Assume Anything!Teaching extends beyond the classroom.We’ve all made mistakes, but I made one, onceupon a time, that comes to mind, which I thinkcould teach us all a lesson. It sure taught me athing or two.I was overseeing a young technician who was hangingwhat may have been the first light plot he ever designed.Not knowing what his background was before this, I madea tragic error at the beginning of the hanging process: Iassumed that this designer knew what he was doing.The designer in question had prepared a rough plotand knew what color palette he wanted. Because I knewthat he was familiar with the show and the basics of hanginga conventional rig, I felt comfortable letting him leadthe hang of his plot. We had about a week to get the hangdone, which I considered more than enough time, as theplot consisted entirely of ellipsoidals and fresnels with afew PARs scattered here and there.The first day came to an end, with me drifting in and outof the space to make sure that work was going smoothly,which it always seemed to be. Work continued on like thisfor the next day as well, until the designer came out andinformed me that the plot was up.“Did you check it?” I asked.“Oh yeah,” this designer replied, and I thought well ofhim, so I called it good.Have you figured out where I made my mistake yet?Well, the hang was a disaster, with holes everywhere.But the designer hadn’t noticed it, and I hadn’t looked, asI was overseeing another project in another space. Worstof all, neither of us discovered the shortcoming beforesomeone else saw it and informed us both, in no uncertainterms, that this would have to be entirely redone — thenightmare scenario.I’m sure many of you are laughing as you read this,but I assure you that I didn’t somuch as snicker when it happened.But I couldn’t get angry with thedesigner. It wasn’t his fault at all,and that is the lesson I had to learnbefore I could take another step inmy professional development. It’svery easy for us to think we learnedour respective crafts by trial anderror — we did to a degree — butlooking back, we realize we got to see our errors becausesomeone took the time to tell us. This was where I failedthis budding designer.When running a theatrical facility, you can bet thatsomeone working for you has aspirations beyond flashlightsand work gloves. They see these designers movingthrough the space, and they think, “Someday, I’ll be outthere instead of back here.”But they can only make that leap if we make sure thatthey know as much as possible before they take their shot.Sure, most lighting techs can read a plot, but how familiarare your young techs with sectionals? Do your techs knowthe difference between a floor plan and an elevation? Dothey know enough to shiver whenever you utter the words“drop-point perspective?” Do they understand what “intensity”and “beam angle” mean? These are basic to most of us,but you might be surprised how many young techs havenever received this information because someone, like mein the above example, assumed they already possessed it.It’s easy for anybody to walk up to you and state thatthey are a designer. Being a designer requires absolutelyno skill, in and of itself. All you have to do is design something,and you’re a designer. Good designers practice acraft that relies on knowledge of both the aesthetics oftheatre and art and the techniques of the technical director.The techs hanging zooms today will be designing theplot using these zooms tomorrow. As technical director,you and your crew, will be responsible for hanging orbuilding whatever that plot or floor plan requires. Let’smake our lives easier by making sure that our techs knoweverything possible now… while there’s still time.Tell Dave what you need to know at dmcginnis@stagedirections.com.


Off the ShelfBy Stephen PeithmanGood AdviceTips on lighting design, stage-rigging equipment, firing up your fundraising and more.Successful theatre depends on a multitude of skills, andthis month’s roundup of new books includes how-tomanuals on a wide range of expertise.Light Fantastic: The Art and Design of Stage Lighting byMax Keller, is perhaps the most unusual of these. Although,like all our selections, it’s chock-full of practical explanationsand advice, it’s presented in an oversized coffee-tableformat, with a lavish array of more than 600 illustrations andphotos. It may be beautiful to behold, but it also providescomprehensive information about the design process and thepractical technological underpinnings that make that processwork. True, the author may not include all the nuts-and-boltsinformation found in some manuals, but the extensive photosof lighting setups, including images from Keller’s most recentproduction — and the enclosed DVD of a presentation byKeller — justify the book’s cost. [ISBN 978-3-79133-685-5, $85,Prestel Publishing.]Now in its third edition, Jay O. Glerum’s Stage RiggingHandbook continues to be the how-to manual for the design,operation and maintenance of stage-rigging equipment. Thebook’s strength always has been the clarity and succinctnessof Glerum’s approach, centering on four main principles:1) know the rigging system; 2) keep it in safe working order;3) know how to use it; and 4) keep your concentration. Heapplies these principles, in turn, to all major types of riggingsystems, including block and tackle, hemp, counterweightand motorized. This new edition adds three new topics— inspection procedures, training and the operation of firecurtains — plus updates to all the other sections, as well. [ISBN0-80932-741-4, $29.50, Southern Illinois University Press.]The modern church makes use of the same technologythat we see in theatre, television, movies and concerts, creatinghigh expectations of its mainly volunteer staff. Thus, while BillGibson’s The Ultimate Church Sound Operator’s Handbooktargets the needs of the sound person who serves ministriesand churches, he also provides good advice for any soundperson, no matter what the venue. Gibson discusses the skillsneeded to be a sound operator, then moves on to live soundtheory, interconnect basics, signal processors, microphones,wireless systems, basic equipment needs for various sizeoperations, traditional and personal monitor systems, soundchecks and how to create a sound mix. Over 200 photos andillustrations help immensely, and a DVD is also included withalmost two hours of instruction. [ISBN 1-42341-970-7, $39.95,Hal Leonard.]The dollars needed to purchase sound, rigging andlighting equipment often come from fundraising activities.Nonprofit board members are often asked to raise money,but for many this is a difficult task. In Fired-Up Fundraising:Turn Board Passion into Action, Gail Perry explains how tointroduce reluctant board members to fundraising in waysthat make them feel comfortable and help them becomemore productive. Instead of focusing on the fundraising itself,she discusses how to get them engaged and passionateabout raising money in the first place. Beginning with anexplanation of what lies behind board reluctance in this area,Perry suggests putting the focus on the organization’s missionand using this to inspire board members. This one’s a winner.[ISBN 978-0-47011-663-0, $34.95, Wiley.]Bringing in dollars is essential to any theatre, whetherthrough donations, grants, ticket sales or other revenue.Just as important — perhaps more so in the long run — isthe effective management of those funds. Taking on thisimmense subject is Financial Management for NonprofitOrganizations: Policies and Practices by John Zietlow, JoAnn Hankin and Alan G. Seidner. In more than 600 pages,the authors cover just about everything a nonprofitfinancial officer needs to know, and in considerabledepth. In addition, they include case studies, checklists,tables, and sample policies to clarify and explain a varietyof financial concepts. The book ends with a chapter onevaluating your policies and progress — an importantprocess that is sometimes overlooked in books of thissort. [ISBN 0-47174-166-3, $85, Wiley.]40 August 2007 • www.stage-directions.com


The Play’s The ThingBy Stephen PeithmanAnd Now For SomethingCompletely DifferentQuirky characters and situations highlight this month’s installment.Directors are always on the lookout for quality scripts thatare out of the ordinary — whether it be unusual characters,situations or viewpoints. If you’re one of those people,this month’s selection of plays should be of special interest.What Lies Before Us by Morris Panych, is set in the winterof 1895, as Ambrose and Keating, two railroad surveyors, findthemselves trapped in the Canadian Rockies with Wing, theirChinese cook. Unfortunately, Ambrose and Keating can’t standeach other, and as they wait for rescue, their talk turns to women,colonialism, faith and the future — and soon disintegrates intopetty and often comic squabbles. While the eternally optimisticKeating remains convinced that they will survive, it’s glaringlyapparent to Ambrose that they must resign themselves to theirfate. Wing has no say in his own fate, although he does havethe last word in the play — in Chinese. Panych blends elementsof The Odd Couple and Waiting for Godot, revealing these men’shopes and dreams as they confront the mountains and themeaning of life. Three males. Licensing information included.[ISBN 0-88922-560-5, $15.95, Talonbooks.]Humana Festival 2006: The Complete Plays collects all 10plays produced at Actors Theatre of Louisville during the 30thanniversary season of the Humana Festival of New AmericanPlays. Sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, these plays askus to engage with characters and worlds we think we know, andthen look again with new eyes. The seven full-length and three10-minute works range from a technology-reliant man learningto listen to a planet on the verge of apocalypse (Eric Coble’sNatural Selection), to a left-leaning American citizen’s doomedchance to give the President an earful (Jane Martin’s Listeners).Also included are Three Guys and a Brenda by Adam Bock, Act aLady by Jordan Harrison, Low by Rha Goddess, Sovereignty byRolin Jones, Hotel Cassiopeia by Charles L. Mee, The Scene byTheresa Rebeck, Six Years by Sharr White and Neon Mirage byLiz Duffy Adams, Dan Dietz, Rick Hip-Flores, Julie Jensen, LisaKron, Tracey Scott Wilson and Chay Yew. Licensing informationincluded. [ISBN 0-97090-461-4, $19.95, Playscripts, Inc.]In After Ashley by Gina Gionfriddo, teenager JustinHammond must navigate the joys and terrors of life afterhis mother, Ashley, is raped and murdered in the basementof their house. The young man’s grieving is interrupted bythose around him who want to take advantage of the mediaspotlight on him (he’s been dubbed the “911 Kid” because ofhis phone call for help). His father, a reporter, is writing a bookabout his wife (titled After Ashley), in which he whitewashesher drug and emotional problems and portrays her as a saint.In this midst of all this, Justin finds himself paralyzed, unableto fully grieve or grow up. The only bright spot is a youngwoman who enters his life. However, he can’t decide if she’s asaving angel or a self-interested groupie. This tale of loss, griefand morality under the media spotlight is richly embroideredwith humor, resulting in a surprisingly incisive and provocativeplay. Four males, two females. [ISBN 978-0-82222-099-2, $8.75,Dramatists Play Service.]Young actors often enjoy pushing boundaries as theyshow off their talents, and short plays let them do this in away that could not be sustained in a full-length production.In Laurie Allen’s new collection, Thirty Short Comedy Playsfor Teens: Plays for a Variety of Cast Sizes, the actors cancreate outrageous characters in the context of situationsfrom everyday life. In such plays as The Kissing Booth, FourBoyfriends, The Babysitter, Class Clown, and Just Act Natural,even inexperienced actors should revel in real-life teendilemmas written as comedy. [ISBN 1-56608-143-2, $16.95,Meriwether Publishing.]www.stage-directions.com • August 2007 41


For more information about the companies advertising in Stage Directions®and serving the theatre profession, go to the links listed below.Advertiser Page WebsiteAmerican Musical &Dramatic Academy 21 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-100- AMDAAngstrom Lighting 43 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-176Apollo Design 1 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-104AudioVendWireless Systems39 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-102Ben Nye Company 12 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-106BMI Supply 9 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-107Bulbtronics 27 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-110Charles H. Stewart& Co.43, C3 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-113Chauvet 13 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-155City Theatrical 21, 43 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-114Demand Products 27 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-156Dream WorldBackdrops43 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-157Eartec 19 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-198ELS 29 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-183EntertainmentTechnologyC2 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-158Graham Swift/Theatre Guys43 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-168Advertiser Page WebsiteHigh End 2-3 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-185JR Clancy 11 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-159Light Source, The 7 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-160LimelightProductions19 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-129Look Solutions 29 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-131Musson Theatrical 31 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-132New York FilmAcademy4 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-133ProductionAdvantage23 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-139RC4 43 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-166Rose Brand C4 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-140Sculptural ArtsCoating37 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-141Stagelights.com 43 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-167StageRight 35 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-145TLS 43 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-169TMB 11 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-172YamahaCommercial Audio15 http://sd.hotims.com/12898-199Getting The Word Outcontinued from page 37“I had a kind of wait-and-see attitude about e-marketing — youknow, all these Web sites say they’re going to do this and that, butdo they really?” she says. “I had BeDynamic touted to me by threeindependent sources at a conference quite accidentally. They area wonderful organization in terms of content management. ”E-marketing “changed the whole way we staffed ourselves,”adds Taormina. “We had a staff marketing director, and now wework with marketing consultants to get much more targeted,specific work for less money than what we were paying thatstaff person to do. Initially, e-marketing sounds like a hugeinvestment, but I think it’s worth every penny. Web site marketinggives us a visibility we’ve never had before. This allows us tobe in front of people in terms of what we do for our communityand in terms of attracting sponsors who want that visibility. It’svery important.”Other forms of e-marketing to explore may seem a bit grassroots,but many publicists highly recommend FaceBook, and/orsetting up a MySpace page. Before you tackle either of theseoptions, research other theatre companies’ current postings/pages and determine what you like and don’t like about theway your competition presents itself. See whether their graphicstranslate well. Decide whether their copy is effective or out-ofplacein this kind of genre and figure out how you can do it better.You might also want to explore Flickr (www.flickr.com), a Web sitethat allows you to post promotional photos and graphics that canthen be downloaded by a client at no cost. Research advice onthe specifics of setting up your page extensively through Googlebefore you start, and ask for hands-on help from your Web sitedesigner or a tech-smart staffer.E-marketing is really what you make of it. If you think out theprocess with care, and execute your promotional moves wisely,the law of averages will reward you with prominent reviews— and a full, happy house.Lisa Mulcahy is the author of the book Building the SuccessfulTheater Company (Allworth Press).42 August 2007 • www.stage-directions.com


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Answer BoxBy Stuart T. WagnerA TempestuousMaskCollege students test their makeup expertiseby adding foam latex to their repertoire.Curtis as Caliban on the set of The TempestALL PHOTOS BY STUART T. WAGNERActor Wesley Curtis sits for the three-hour application of his foam latex mask in preparation for hisrole as Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Here, makeup artists J. T. Pitt (L), Jamie Makely andChris Eubanks prepare the foam latex pieces for application.Here Curtis has eye makeup appliedfor a drunken, sleep-deprived look.Through the use of advanced latex prosthetics, threestudents at East Carolina University — senior dramamajor J. T. Pitt, junior Jamie Makely and senior ChrisEubanks — were instrumental in morphing sophomoreactor Wesley Curtis into a half-man, half-fish Caliban for aproduction of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. For each of thesix scheduled shows, as well as for the three dress rehearsals,these students created an entire set of the five-partmask Curtis wore as Caliban. While the concept seemedsimple enough in theory, this feat took several monthsof research and much trial-and-error on the part of thestudents involved.Pitt began his search on the Internet, investigatingthe animal kingdom for a likely model to use for the scalyCaliban. After one was found, a cast was made of actor WesCurtis’ face using a slow-setting alginate — the same materialdentists use to make castings of people’s teeth. This formwas then filled with plaster, resulting in a 35-pound replicaof Curtis’ head.This casting was then used to make castings of portionsof Curtis’ head. The more manageable specific castings thenwere used as forms upon which to build the Caliban face,which was sculpted in clay. A casting was then made of theclay Caliban models, and a reverse of the monster’s guise wascreated. At this point, a latex-filled sandwich was made toconstruct the actual mask parts. Each mask piece was bakedat 185 degrees for three hours — a process that requiredconstant monitoring.Additionally, Caliban’s fish-like appearance needed toextend seamlessly from the latex mask to a painted unitard.As part of his costume, the actor wore a pair of pants anda cape that appeared to be hand-sewn from remnants ofCaliban’s shed skin, thus keeping his color palette consistentand his overall appearance that of a wild creature. Coloration,including teeth and tongue makeup, were added as finishingtouches, along with false fingers and nails. Caliban was readyto skulk across the stage.Stuart T. Wagner is a freelance photojournalist from Apex,North Carolina.Answer Box Needs You!Every production has its challenges. We’dlike to hear how you solved them! Send yourAnswer Box story and pics to answerbox@stagedirections.com,or go to www.stage-directions.com/submissions to upload your story.44 August 2007 • www.stage-directions.com

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