“The Chalk Boy” in rehearsal

The Chalk Boy by Joshua Conkel is the first show to open this season, Friday July 13th.

Beneath its boring facade there is more going on in the tiny town of Clear Creek than the opening of the new Taco Bell.  Four of the town’s local girls are here to take you on a tour of their funny, yet brutal reality.  They struggle with faith, friendship, sex, the occult, algebra, and the disappearance of… The Chalk Boy.  This is a deathly black comedy that punches as hard as your high school bully.

Directed by Nina Capriola and featuring Nikole Moon as Penny, Luna Ezekiel as Lauren, Genevieve Toribio as Breanna and Daniella Vargas as Trisha.

Set design by Samantha Petrovich, lighting by Matthew T. Pavellas, sound design by Vincent Eclavea Jr., costumes by Sarah Larson and props by Genevieve Toribio – stage managed by Natalie Cruz

Stay tuned for the commercial…(snap shots below!)

They can drive a sane person mad…

For those of you unfamiliar with any of the day-to-day tasks of stage management, one of the fun jobs we get to do is take line notes. A line note is a note taken during rehearsal when an actor doesn’t say a line correctly, calls “Line!” (meaning, they need the line given to them), drops words, paraphrases, etc. The Shape of Things is a four-person play…which means they have all a LOT of lines (and they are doing an awesome job, by the way!) and it’s inevitable that there will be pages upon pages of notes for them…

My wonderful assistant stage manager, Mason Brown, is a part of a SM team for the first time and I’ve delegated this responsibility to him for a few reasons:

1) I trust that he will give the actors accurate notes

2) He pays attention during rehearsal (this seems silly, but really… it can be a lot to ask)

3) As stage managers, we’ve all had to go through it: why not go all out for your first time?

So, Mason, I appreciate all that you’re doing (and the actors do, too!) Welcome to my world, kid.

This is what lines notes have done to him.  Enjoy.

Identity crisis.

As a first time costume designer on Dog Sees God, I guess the only things I’ve got going for me are:

  1.     I attended FIDM for awhile (but dropped out – sorry, Mom and Dad)
  2.     I like clothes
  3.     The show is set in modern times (so I don’t have to worry about being time period specific)
  4.     Lots of people that work with me trust my judgment (or so they tell me)

Although I am armed with these…um, powerful tools of design, this show will be no easy task: it has the most looks out of all of the shows featured in 2X4BASH. But there is a larger challenge I face: one of my characters, C.B.’s Sister, is a teenager who has an identity crisis and is constantly changing her look and how others perceive her and I need to express that via costumes. I’m definitely up for the challenge, but it’s a lot to take on.

On a personal note, I admire this about the character, in a way, and feel that it is extremely indicative of what we’re all doing in the BASH. One day, I’m someone’s stage manager and two hours later, I’m their sound designer, and all the while, dealing with the every day issues of managing a new company. Wearing multiple hats all day long can be tiring and, mostly, confusing, leaving me wondering on a daily basis “who I am” today.

This particular character inspires and scares me. Sometimes, I fear that I won’t be able to define myself clearly as an artist the best way I can this summer, since I am not primarily a “designer” by nature. I am an arts manager: I am excellent at upholding the integrity of others’ artistic choices. But making my own? That’s a scary thought, but I’m up for the challenge.

So, here’s to finding my way, through design, this summer. C.B.’s Sister: you are my personal mascot for breaking through the confusion and defining myself.

I wish I was a Mechanical Engineer



Ron Barth, President of Resource Furniture, demonstrates and explains their amazing line of Italian-designed space.
This video is pretty cool. I have been thinking of ways to to give set pieces dual purposes and this video validates my idea. (Thank you, Shane, for sending me this.)

Space is always an issue  in theater and even more so at The Western Stage, now that 2x4BASH will be in the mix of the main season productions. I have one piece built but still working out some mechanics  for Dog Sees God. Right now, the units have two roles within the same show. I can’t wait to talk to the other designers about their needs and how we may apply this idea to cross set pieces between shows. Space-saving furniture is key, in my mind, due to the fact that two shows are in the round, relying hugely on furniture alone to set the scene.


The Genesis of a Production Poster

The Impossible Task

I never thought that designing a poster for a couple of theatre productions would melt my brain, but after working on our show poster for 2X4BASH: theatre on the edge, it’s a very real possibility. Our show poster had to feature all four 2X4BASH productions plus the dates and authors, as well as the specifics of where, how much, contact info, etc. It all seemed very daunting at first.

As I was crawling into the fetal position, thinking about all the aspects the poster needed to include, I luckily glanced at the pin board above my computer.  A couple of old local band show fliers hung there like shining 1/4-page papers of hope. They had about four or five band logos on them plus the show info and it all fit onto little 1/4-page pieces of paper! If whoever designed these fliers could fit that all on there and make it look interesting, I could make a regular sized poster no problem. Plus the band show poster had the grittier look that we were looking for to represent our on-the-edge line up of plays.

The Band Poster: My Inspiration

The Font Search

And so I began my journey of making a band show themed poster. The first thing I did was create “band logos” for each of the shows. This meant finding fonts that could pass as band logos but also worked with the feeling and themes of the shows.

I never knew how mind numbingly grueling a font search could be. I searched font website after font website with glazed-over, tired eyes and eventually found the perfect ones to use. I then quickly came up with a color-blocked design that used our red, black, and white 2X4BASH colors to keep the poster simple and eye catching. Many of my fellow 2X4BASH teammates liked the design, but unfortunately, several of the fonts I used turned out to not be free for commercial use. To avoid having to contact the font creators and buy all of our fonts, I fell back into the search for fonts. This time it was even more difficult, because I tried to find free commercial use fonts that looked similar to the ones I was replacing.

After another few hours of searching fonts, I found the replacements and put it up for more review among the 2X4BASH team. Several tweaks later, our poster was complete.

The Future Is Upon Us

2X4BASH is interested in trying to fuse newer forms of technology with our theatre performances, so we included a QR code in the right bottom corner that can be scanned with an application on a smartphone and be taken to a picture of this same poster on our blog. This should make it easy for people to get our info without having to write it down.

As much as I make it sound like designing the poster was a big pain, I did have a lot of fun making it. Keep an eye out for our poster around town!

“You’re a difficult equation with a knack for heart evasion…” Design inspiration for None of the Above

So, it’s my second time ever sound designing (pretty stoked about it) and after reading the script, I felt the relationship between the two characters had a quirky, sometimes awkward, but playful tone to it. Other than the lyrics cleverly bouncing around metaphors of math and English, Sia’s “Academia” captures the kind of mood that I hope to throughout my design in the show. The song talks about two people who are trying to essentially express the same thing to one another, but it’s as if they speak two different languages. Give it a listen! Let me know what you think! (Lyrics are below).

You can be my alphabet and I will be your calculator
And together we’ll work out on the escalator
I will time you as you run up the down
And you’ll measure my footsteps as I pleasure this town
The mean of our heights is divided by the nights
Which is times’d by the daggers and the root of all our fights,
The pass of your poem is to swathe me in your knowing
And the beauty of the word is that you don’t have to show it

Oh academia you can’t pick me up
Soothe me with your words when I need your love

I am a dash and you are a dot
When will you see that I am all that you’ve got
I’m a binary code that you cracked long ago
But to you I’m just a novel that you wish you’d never wrote
I’m greater than x and lesser than y, so why is it
That I still can’t catch your eye?
You’re a cryptic crossword, a song I’ve never heard
While I sit here drawing circles I’m afraid of being hurt

Oh academia you can’t pick me up
Soothe me with your words when I need your love

You’re a difficult equation with a knack for heart evasion
Will you listen to my proof or will you add another page on
It appears to me the graph has come and stolen all the laughs
It appears to me the pen has over analysed again
And if I am a number I’m infinity plus one
And if you are five words you are afraid to be the one
And if you are a number you’re infinity plus one
And if I am four words then I am needing all your love

Oh academia you can’t pick me up
Soothe me with your words when I need your love
Academia

We’re following the Tweeter, the Tweeter, the Tweeter…

“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

An idea that we at 2x4BASH have been toying with is incorporating “media-friendly” shows, where people can sign up to sit in designated seats in the house (as to not disturb our ‘traditional’ audience members) and use their Smartphones during the show to comment on or react as they watch. SF Playhouse (http://www.sfplayhouse.org/) used this concept during their production of Wirehead with Twitter and they re-tweeted select posts from audience members. I think this concept is pretty cool, but as I see it, there are so many factors that go into making this even slightly successful, especially introducing it as a completely new idea to our theatre community here on the Central Coast.

Cell phones in the theatre are typically considered blasphemous, but as time evolves, I feel we as theatre artists need to, as well. Most of us always have our phones on our person at all times (I know I do) and yes, I do think it’s incredibly rude to talk on your phone at the theatre, or not silence it. But if we were to create an environment where it was okay to use your little, technological limb for good rather than evil, I think both audience member and the theatre could benefit.

We have to look at the constants versus the variables in this situation. The constants: where the seats are located, making sure all participants interested sign up and have a verified Facebook/Twitter account (so we can check to see if they actually posted something). The variable: Internet connection, and the biggest variable of them all… human beings. We can only tell them what they are supposed to do, but will 100% of the participants do exactly that? Doubtful. The idea is to get our audience engaged and talking about what’s going on, on a first impression basis. Most of the time when we see a show, if something strikes us in a strong way, we have the rest of the show to think about or rationalize it. But if you had the opportunity to say exactly what they thought or felt about that moment in time (as we often do with Facebook and Twitter anyway), wouldn’t you want to?

Ideally, if we can rally up enough interest in our production, people will want to talk about it, right then and there without having to wait. I believe this is our ultimate goal: interest, reaction, dialog. We want to share our dialog with you.

To get started, follow us on Twitter! (2x4BASH) We promise to follow you back!

Some interesting links, regarding this topic:

http://www.tcg.org/pdfs/publications/centerpiece/Nov09_Twitter_Centerpiece.pdf

http://www.ayoungertheatre.com/theatre-marketing-twitter/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2009/mar/13/tweet-twitter-theatre

Rodarte: States of Matter

Photo by Autumn de Wilde

There is an amazing exhibit going on at MOCA Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood that I am dying to see.  It’s called Rodarte: States of Matter and it is an instillation which features costumes from the movie “Black Swan” as well as other fashion by Rodarte.  Watch the mini tour its absolutely beautiful!!

I’m swooning over the close ups of those wonderful textures ♥♥♥ It’s costumes like these that make my little designer heart skip beats. Amazing works of art!!

The exhibit is up and will be running until June 6th 2011.  For additional information click here.

A Prop Girl’s Bag-o’-Tricks

I few things I know I’ll be using to make props this summer for 2x4BASH are the items I’ve listed below. You could make almost anything out of these things. I’ve worked on props for the Western Stage for almost 8 years and I don’t think I could get by without these products or tools.

If I could carry this all on a tool belt, I would

1. Sculpt or Coat – This is like a really thick glue-type product that I use for giving props a protective plastic coating. It works really well for fake food items and disguises foam to look like other things. You can use it as a semi-gloss too or tint it with paint or thin it with water. Most paints will adhere to it as well so you can coat your prop, let it dry, and then paint over it. Great stuff.

2. Glue gun/Hot Glue – Hot glue is my wonder adhesive. It works on almost all types of materials, especially plastics and wood, and hardens quickly so I can keep working without stopping. Most people use hot glue, so it’s not like this is some hidden secret of the prop world, but I love to use hot glue in ways that aren’t usual. Hardened hot glue

I think I need a glass of prop milk

looks a lot like glaze so I often use it for prop food as a sugar glaze or icing. Here is a donut that I made out of a piece of foam sculpted into a ring, some Sculpt or Coat to coat the foam, paint, hot glue for the chocolate icing glaze on top, and some little tan nugget things I found (I think they’re used in fish tanks) that I used as peanut pieces.

Hot glue has so many uses in the prop department, we’d never get by without it.

3. Sculpey (or other polymer clays) – Sculpey is a brand of polymer clay that I use to make all sorts of props. It’s easy to mold, comes in many colors, and can be painted once it is baked. Sculpey often comes in handy for smaller props such as fruit and

WARNING: Not as delicious as it looks!

pastries. If you need to make something that’s bigger than 1/4 inch thick, foil should be used. For example, I made a mango last year out of only Sculpey, foil, and paint. You ball the foil up so that it takes up most of the space and then apply the Sculpey over it. Since foil is oven safe, there is no problem with baking it like this. Once it’s cooled you can safely paint it any color you want, if needed. For my mango, I painted it with blended colors of red, yellow, and green to make it look like a nice ripe mango.

4. Spray Adhesive – Outside of hot glue, spray adhesive is probably my next most used glue. It works pretty well for paper crafts and applying fabric to surfaces like wood. It can be a sticky mess though. This glue is very tacky and if you get it on your fingers you will start to stick to things. Also it will get in your hair and eye lashes and clothing, so if that doesn’t sound like a fun time, cover up before you spray. I wear eye glasses and often end up doing all my spray gluing half-blind, because I take the glasses off while using the glue to save them from a nice layer of sticky speckles all over the lenses. Prop making is serious business, people.

5. Paint – As with set creation, the prop department also uses a bit of paint to make our props. Since I usually don’t need nearly as much as the set does, I prefer to stick with little bottles of acrylic paint since I tend to waste less and it’s easier to pop open one of those bottles than it is to crack open a can of paint that you need to stir. I’m also not very efficient at color mixing, so when I use the big cans of paint I always end up mixing a cup of paint together to get the right shade when I only needed about a teaspoon amount. Yeah, I think I’ll stick with the little bottles.

6. Foam – Any type of foam is valuable to me. I’ve used anything from insulation foam, to cushion foam, to packaging foam to make props. My most used foam is the cushion foam though, because it’s spongy and bread-like (I used it for the donut up there), so it comes in handy for all sorts of different breads. We had a whole bakery of breads set up once for The Baker’s Wife made mostly out of insulation and cushion foam.

7. Design Master Glossy Wood Tone – This spray paint tint will automatically make every thing look better. I don’t know how it does it, but it can. It can make things look antiqued or old and used. It can make things look slightly glossy and intensify the colors the prop already has, while knocking down those colors that might be too bright under stage lights. I just love this stuff. It has a sister color, Cherry Wood Tone, that can also be helpful. Cherry Wood Tone is, as the name suggests, a bit more red tinted and worked wonders on our berry tarts that the props department made once. These were made out of Sculpey for the crust, fake strawberries and grapes glued on top, a hot glue glaze like I used on the donut, and a little touch of Cherry Wood Tone.

Starting to get hungry?

Just looking at an unused glue stick, you’ll notice that it’s milky colored and slightly opaque. That’s what our tarts looked like before we sprayed them with the Cherry Wood Tone. The spray instantly cleared them up somehow and gave them a beautiful glossy sugary glazed look. I couldn’t believe how much just the spray improved them. The Design Master’s Glossy Wood Tone tints are like magic prop sprays and I’d be lost without them.

You’d never know from this post that I’ve made things other than fake food props, but I work on all types of props ranging from designing book jackets, folding fake flowers, to fashioning fake ice sculptures out of plexiglass! The fake food props are often more prevalent though because real food is often too messy or too hard to use on stage. It does happen but requires a lot of nightly cleaning and proper food storage, so when the food product isn’t actually eaten on stage, a fake prop is much preferred.

I must give credit to my prop department partner, Leslie Lancaster, as she has shared with me many of the techniques and products I’ve talked to you about today, and I wouldn’t know about any of it without her.

The Maine Attraction.

“Perhaps, therefore, ideal stage managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds.” -Peter Hall

As I pack and get ready to say ‘see ya later’ Dover-Foxcroft this week, I recall the quote above (which is annoyingly placed in the signature of all of my outgoing emails) and can’t help but acknowledging that this is exactly how I am feeling at this very moment. Having only a month to put up a full-scale show with high schoolers’ schedules, a limited budget, and a two-person design team doesn’t necessarily render these ‘odds’ impossible, but they do make the overall process more of a challenge…and they definitely don’t make me feel any calmer. But when all was said and done, we had a beautiful, fun, enjoyable show.

The Apple Tree, for those who are unfamiliar with the show, is three mini-musicals, based off of three short stories: “The Diary of Adam and Eve” by Mark Twain, “The Lady or the Tiger?” by Frank Stockton, and “Passionella” by Jules Feiffer. Thematically they are all linked by topic of temptation, the power of choice, and what it is to be a human being. As you can already tell, I am a fan of using quotes to illustrate my points, and Eve in the first story sings:

“How’d I come? Where’m I from? What’s my ultimate aim? I don’t know. Even so, I’m glad I came.”

Thank you, Eve, for perfectly expressing my feelings about coming to Maine this winter. And thank you, cast and crew of Foxcroft Academy’s The Apple Tree, for allowing me to, once again, feel extreme pride in what I do. I will never, ever forget you!