Putting a Face on Theatre
I'm sitting in the house at the Dorset Theatre Festival as my crew finishes applying molding and other detail touches to the set for Clybourne Park, our last show of the season. This production was coproduced with Barrington Stage in Massachusetts, and as part of the cost-sharing discussion, we decided it would be smart to split the physical labor--have some of the set built by our shop here, and some built in the shop at Barrington.
There were a lot of reasons to…Continue
Added by Rich Dionne on August 16, 2013 at 6:58am — No Comments
I found myself staring at a designer drawing of a simple porch column the other day: about 14' tall, with a 3'-tall brick base and a tapered square profile above. I started drawing it, and then stopped. I was stuck--thinking about different views, different construction techniques, different material choices. It was a little frustrating, frankly, but not all that uncommon: I often find myself spending a lot of mental energy thinking about how to build a piece of scenery--even the seemingly…Continue
Added by Rich Dionne on July 26, 2013 at 5:37am — No Comments
We are days away from our third changeover here at Dorset Theatre Festival, and after weeks of rain impeding our build progress (we have a pretty small shop, so we rely on the ability to build outside), we've suffered through a week of near-100-degree temps and daily heat advisories. Our only vehicle capable of picking up material of any size from the lumber yard is in the shop. We just finished a changeover not two weeks ago. And, people are getting tired, and cranky, and generally…Continue
Added by Rich Dionne on July 19, 2013 at 6:24am — No Comments
I was driving to the store with our scenic charge, Jes, yesterday to pick up some vinyl tile for our upcoming production of Barefoot in the Park, and lamenting that I had no idea what I was going to write this week. As a joke, she said, "well, you should just write about me!" Of course, she meant it as a joke, but it got me to thinking...
Any time I start working with a new shop, I lay down a few ground rules. Most are the basics: correct is better than quick, but…Continue
Added by Rich Dionne on July 12, 2013 at 6:17am — No Comments
I have written many times about how to build machines or how to put together control systems for various effects; I can't recall a time when I wrote about how to construct a particular visual effect. We have had a really cool element to tackle the last week at Dorset Theatre Festival that I really wanted to share. The set designer has called for a full ceiling in our production of The Whipping Man (yes, the backwards ceiling from last week!); she also has called for a chunk of that…Continue
Added by Rich Dionne on June 28, 2013 at 5:01am — No Comments
One of my two shop interns has asked me the same question a number of different ways the past two weeks: "what is expected of me?" It seems like a simple question with an obvious answer--to those of us who've been working for a while. For the newcomer, the expectations and parameters can be blurry and intimidating. And, knowing what is expected of you is kind of fundamental to knowing how to perform.
So, without further introduction, and as a courtesy to all the new and…Continue
We're deep into the load-in of our first show at Dorset Theatre Festival (a production of Theresa Rebeck's The Scene). As is often is the case, it's a bit of a push to make it to focus and tech, and I find myself a little tense, a little anxious, and expecting way to much of myself and my staff in too little time.
I've got a fantastic staff: my ATD, Aaron, is level-headed, talented, and hard-working. The staff carpenter, Amanda, is also very skilled, and both…Continue
I was inspired by Erich Friend's blog post, "A 400 HP Pencil," on CAD issues yesterday, and I thought I'd use this time to talk a little about my thoughts on using CAD most effectively.
First off: "CAD" does not refer to "AutoCAD." I recognize that there's something cool about shortening names and creating our own "insider lingo," but that's not where "CAD" comes from--it's not an…Continue
Added by Rich Dionne on June 7, 2013 at 6:04am — No Comments
I mentioned last week that one of the designs I'm building this summer incorporates a Murphy bed, and I've spent the last week working out how to make it happen. What's a Murphy bed, you ask? You've seen them; they were a staple of physical comedy for a while. A Murphy bed is simple a bed that folds down put of a wall of a cabinet.
Here's some footage of the great Charlie Chaplin wrestling with a Murphy bed from the film, "One A.M.":…
Most of my teaching responsibilities since coming to Purdue have been at the graduate level. There are a lot of reasons for this, but suffice it to say that I have--much to my own chagrin, quite frankly--found my curricular development efforts directed at the MFA degree program, rather than at undergraduate course work. Recently, I received a bit of a promotion--from lecturer to assistant professor!--and with this change comes the opportunity to shift my focus to include undergraduate course…Continue
It is important to me that the final projects on my upper-tier classes do a few things as the culminating work in the class. They should:
Added by Rich Dionne on May 3, 2013 at 5:30am — No Comments
It's that time of the year again: end of semester evaluations. At the end of each semester, my design and production colleagues and I all get together for a couple of hours and take time to share our experiences with each others' graduate students over the last 16 weeks. Ideally, this is an opportunity to celebrate the many good experiences while discussing those times when we've perceived opportunities for growth and development.
I'll confess that I approach these meetings…Continue
Added by Rich Dionne on April 26, 2013 at 5:28am — No Comments
We've had an explosion of student-driven workshops over the past year at Purdue. It has been truly amazing to see so many young theatre artists exploring their craft, trying out new things, and generally being excited about our art, and I'm proud to say we've been fairly successful at making room for these projects that are not part of our main production season.
However, as one might imagine, these workshops create inevitable tensions; the greatest of these center around…Continue
Added by Rich Dionne on April 5, 2013 at 5:52am — No Comments
Throughout this semester in my Show Networks and Show Control class, we've tried to connect concepts we've been discussing back to the Open Systems Interconnect (OSI) layering scheme, which is a model of communication systems that breaks these systems into modular functional building blocks. Hammered out in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the OSI layering scheme provides a complex framework for communication systems; each of the seven functional layers describes a specific set of "duties"…Continue
Added by Rich Dionne on March 29, 2013 at 6:51am — No Comments