Monday, October 22, 2012

Production Crew: What it means, exactly ... and generally

When students sign up to be on the production crew for a show, do they know what the job is? What the responsibilities are? Who is in charge of what?

Maybe they do, maybe they don't.

Those who have been on a crew before probably have a good idea, but even then, there are some misunderstandings about what the job is all about. So, for your reading pleasure - it's not quite Kerouac - here are the job descriptions for the WHS Production Crews.

General notes for ALL CREW MEMBERS:
  • You are backstage for one reason: to crew this production. Stay focused on what needs to be done
  • ALL cell phones will be collected by the Stage Manager(s) when you arrive. If you need to make a call for an emergency, see the directors. Make sure you communicate with your parents that you will not be available by phone between call time and the scheduled rehearsal end time.
  • No one other than cast and crew will be permitted backstage. Friends can meet you after the rehearsal or performance, but they can’t be backstage during our time.
  • No crew member may leave the theater/green room area: Auditorium, Little Theater, Scene Shop and Costume/Make Up rooms. Do not go out into the hallways or parking lots unless it is by the specific request of the director. (Water and snacks are normally available in the green room area.)
  • No food or drink backstage. This includes water. Keep the water in the green room areas.
  • Do not leave the theater early for any reason. Even if your last cue/shift is before the final bow, everyone stays until the theater is secure for the day.
  • Safety is really important backstage and in the theater in general. It’s dark, there will be large moving scenery pieces, some of you will be climbing ladders - you get the picture. Please make sure you know your surroundings when arrive at the theater, and be prepared before the theater goes dark and the rehearsal or performance begins.

Headset Etiquette for the Theater

Positions that will be using headsets include Stage Manager, Props Manager, Fly Master, Light Board Operator, Sound Board Operator, and Follow Spots (when used).
  • There should be no talking over the headsets during Technical Rehearsals, Dress Rehearsals, previews, or performances with the following exception: when the Stage Manager gives a stand-by cue, all crew members on headset should reply with "standing" or "standing by."
  • There should be NO talking when a cue is in standby
  • Cues should not be taken until the Stage Manager's "go" command.
  • If requested, crew members may notify the Stage Manager when a cue has completed by saying "cue X complete" or a command that is understood by all crew members.
  • There should be no discussion about a cue until after the cue has been taken.
  • Everyone on headsets should be aware that they can be heard by anyone else picking up a headset or even walking near an unused headset with the volume turned up. Crew members should take into consideration this public nature and should refrain from derogatory comments, profanity, etc.

We rely upon clear communication for cue execution. Please remember this at all times.

Duties for Specific Crew Assignments

Stage Managers: Stage Managers will check in with Lammers as soon as they arrive at the theater. Stage Managers are expected to be at the theater 10 minutes before the posted call time. When they arrive, Stage Managers will:
  • Check crew attendance using a call board or sign-in sheet
  • Collect cell phones from the crew members and get them in their secure location;
  • Turn on the headset intercom and pick up the assigned beltpack;
  • Coordinate crew to get pre-sets completed by 6:45;
  • Assign stage sweeping duties and confirm it gets completed;
  • Double check presets for Act I Scene 1;
  • Announce house opening times in 15 minute intervals (“House opens in 45 minutes,” “House opens in 30 minutes”, etc.) with the final calls happening at 5 minutes and as the house opens (coordinate with Lammers for timing of the last two calls);
  • Turn off all work lights at “House-Minus-Five;” turn on all run-lights;
  • Call “places” at curtain time when indicated by the director;
  • Verify that all performers are at places prior to curtain;
  • Verify that all crew are at their stations prior to curtain;
  • Communicate via the headset intercom all necessary cues;
  • Clear the cast from the stage at intermission;
  • Coordinate crew to complete presets for Act II;
  • Call “places” at the end of intermission when indicated by the director;
  • Clear the cast from the stage after curtain call;
  • Reset the stage to a “secure” position;
  • Return cell phones to crew members;
  • Return headset(s) to the booth and power down the system
  • Check out on the callboard and with Lammers/director prior to leaving the theater.
Props Manager: Props manager will check in with the Stage Manager(s) when arriving at the theater. The Props Manager will:
  • Pick up the headset (if available or assigned) in the booth (check the headset for signal)
  • Unlock props cabinet(s) and preset all props for Act I in their designated locations;
  • Coordinate with performers concerning personal props during the time prior to house opening;
  • Coordinate with Props Running Crew for specific assignments;
  • Assist with Preset Duties as assigned by directors;
  • Manage props during Act I;
  • Preset props for Act II during the intermission;
  • Manage props during Act II;
  • Retrieve and secure props from set/performers as needed after the final curtain;
  • Return and power off the headset to the booth;
  • Check out on the call board and with Lammers/director prior to leaving the theater.

Fly Master: The Fly Master will check in with the Stage Manager(s) when arriving at the theater. The Fly Master will:
  • Sign in on the call board;
  • Pick up the headset (if available or assigned) in the booth (check the headset for signal);
  • Check the fly rail lights and labels, adjusting or rewriting as necessary;
  • Test all fly lines that will be used during the show. If there is a problem, notify Lammers/TD immediately;
  • Check all static flylines (teasers and legs) so that they are set at the trim height;
  • Preset all flies for Act I Scene 1 (and any other scenes that need preset)
  • Assist with any other preset duties as assigned
  • At “House-minus-five” turn on all run lights;
  • Cue, operate and coordinate all fly cues as needed during the show
  • Preset all flies for Act II Scene 1 (and any other scenes that need presetting) during intermission
  • Fly all scenery and curtains out fully (with the exception of the Main Curtain) after intermission;
  • Fly the Main Curtain out only after the OK of a Stage Manager or Director;
  • Secure all fly lines (lock only if requested by the director)

  • Return and power off the headset to the booth;
  • Check out on the call board and with Lammers/director prior to leaving the theater.
Light Board Operators: The Light Board Operators will check in with the Stage Managers when arriving at the theater. The Light Board Operators will:
  • Sign in on the call board;
  • Check the headset for signal with the stage managers;
  • Power up the light board and load the current show’s file;
  • Perform a light check: this will entail one person operating the board and the other person going on stage to verify that each light works (You may need to borrow a remote headset from one of the other crew members for this.
  • Relamp instruments that do not operate; if instrument will not operate, troubleshoot the light according to the procedure for that light;
  • Run through the cue list. It is not necessary to run through all cues, but check to make sure cue are loaded and timed according to the script;
  • Assist the followspots with their preset check;
  • At “House-minus-five” the Pre-Show Warm cue should be up and the show ready to run; turn on all run lights; turn off all booth lights;
  • Execute light cues as cued or rehearsed for the show; keep notes of any fixes or changes that may be needed;
  • After the final curtain, keep the Post-Show Warm cue up until the main curtain is flown out and the work lights are turned back on;
  • Save the show file, power down the board, and close and bar the booth window
  • Check out on the call board and with Lammers/director prior to leaving the theater.

Sound Board Operators: The Sound Board Operators will check in with the Stage Managers when arriving at the theater. The Sound Board Operators will:
  • Sign in on the call board;
  • Check the headset for signal with the stage managers;
  • Power up all sound equipment;
  • Check all sound input devices INCLUDING performer microphones;
  • Organize performer microphone in the green room according to the established procedures;
  • Assist performers with microphones - attaching, securing, etc.
  • Verify that all settings on the soundboard are preset for Act I Scene 1;
  • Run cues and monitor mics and inputs during the show;
  • Recover performer mics after the show; secure mics and transmitters according to the established procedures;
  • Power down all sound inputs and outputs, and close and bar the booth window;
  • Check out on the call board and with Lammers/director prior to leaving the theater.
Followspot Operators: The Followspot Operators will check in with the Stage Managers when arriving at the theater. The Followspot Operators will:
  • Sign in on the call board;
  • Check in with the light board operators; go to the follow spot positions for pre-show check
  • Check the headset for signal with the light operators;
  • Check the followspot for operations; relamp the instrument if needed; troubleshoo any other problems as needed;
  • Assist the Light Board Operators with the light check as needed;
  • Assist the Stage Managers with presets as needed;
  • Run all followspot cues as required during the show; at intermission, wait in the booth;
  • Stay on station until the final curtain; return to the booth and wait for the house to empy;
  • NOTE: the intercom beltpacks and headsets can stay at the followspot station from the first technical rehearsal until strike;
  • Assist the light board operators with closing up the booth;
  • Check out on the call board and with Lammers/director prior to leaving the theater.

Running Crew - Props: The members of this crew will check in with the Stage Managers when arriving at the theater. The Props Crew members will:
  • Sign in on the call board;
  • Check in with the Props Manager; preset all props for Act I as needed;
  • Assist with additional presets as needed or requested by the Stage Manager(s);
  • Execute all props assignments during the show and reset during intermission;

  • Retrieve and secure props from set/performers as needed after the final curtain;

  • Check out on the call board and with Props Manager prior to leaving the theater.

Running Crew - Sets: The members of this crew will check in with the Stage Managers when arriving at the theater. The Set Crew members will:
  • Sign in on the call board;
  • Check in with the Stage Manager(s); preset all set pieces for Act I as needed;
  • Sweep the stage prior to every rehearsal and performance and/or requested by the Stage Manager(s);
  • Execute all scene change assignments during the show and reset during intermission;

  • Secure scenery as needed after the final curtain;

  • Check out on the call board and with Stage Manager(s) prior to leaving the theater.

Typical timeline for a WHS Performance night

NOTE: “House” is what time the house opens to the public. Usually, that will be at 7:00 PM, but it may change from show to show. “Curtain” is what time the show begins, usually 30 minutes after the house opens.

“House -60:00” (Curtain -90:00): All crew is to report to the theater. Sign in on the callboard, and check in with your crew head or director. Begin preset duties as described and assigned.

“House -45:00” (Curtain -75:00): Stage Manager makes first house call (45 minutes); crews continue with preset duties.

“House -30:00” (Curtain -60:00):  Stage Manager makes second house call (30 minutes) crews continue with preset duties.

“House -15:00” (Curtain -45:00): Stage Manager makes third house call (15 minutes); all presets are to be completed by this time; cast warmups may begin at this time, but crew can be in the green room when all is ready.

“House -5:00” (Curtain -35:00): Stage Manager makes fourth house call (5 minutes); Last check for presets; all backstage general work lights are turned off; all run lights are turned on; cast members perform their last checks (or whatever the director requires of them at that time);

“House OPEN” (Curtain -30:00): Stage Manager makes final house call (open); No crew or cast is permitted on the stage; all activity is directed from the green room. Final notes and warm-ups are conducted during this time as conducted by the Assistant Director (and any other director who requires.)

“Places for Act I” (Curtain -5:00): Stage Manager calls for places; all crew report to their stations, and cast reports for the places for Act I Scene 1. This is done quietly and quickly, but without rushing.

“Call-Around” (Curtain -1:00): Technical Director gets on the intercom to check that all tech stations are ready; Stage Managers will verify that performers are at stations; Lights will received command preset cue commands; Technical director will hand over control to the crew.

“Intermission” (Intermission +0:00): Intermissions are generally 15 minutes. Crews will reset any scenery, props, costumes and cues necessary to start Act II.

“Places for Act II” (Intermission +12:00): Stage Manager calls the cast and crew for places for Act II; the Director or Technical Director will give the cues from the booth when the lobby is clear and the house is seated. This will be the same procedure for the beginning of the play.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Crew for Leading Ladies

Here is the production crew for Leading Ladies. It's a bigger crew than we normally work with, so if your plans have changed, please let me know and we can reassign people as normal. This is the kind of show where we do a fair amount of work before the show, nothing during the act, and then make some quick changes during the act breaks. Everyone will have a particular job before, during and after the show.

Stage Managers/Assistant Directors: Cassie Kittredge, Morgan Frederick, Makayla Kellner

Sound Operators: Reggie Gillis, Claire Callahan

Light Operators: Ted Townsend, Hannah Schroeder

Running Crew:

Curtain Runners: Sally Timko, Kiley Graves, Bailey Ziehr
Revolves: Jack Krebs, Jacob Spurrell, Rylee Frake
Presets and Furniture: Adrienne Rule , Mackenzie Wallace, Alisa Gerhold, Hannah Weber, Sammy Nading, Kat Cross
Props Crew:
Props Manager: Clara Tossi
Props Crew: Sarah Endicott, Jill LaGrange, Anne Seifert

Don't forget that we have a crew view slated for September 12th at 3:00. Our first technical rehearsal will be on the 13th right after school.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ready, Set, and ...

Someone, push the big green button!

We have arrived to the new school year. There are a lot of things to get done, and to get communicated. Once again, the WHS Performing Arts Technicians blog site will be a source of information, and now that I don't have to blog for graduate school assignments, I should be better at keeping this site updated.

Of things of note:

1) The Little Theater renovation. If you read the previous post, you are aware that we have new equipment in the Little Theater. While the schedule didn't hold as true as I had written, we are good to go as of this morning. New curtains, curtain tracks, battens, and two mechanized rollers for a cyc (permanent) and painted drops (we'll have to add those) are now at our disposal. For the first time in many years, we have two well-equipped and functioning theaters.

2) Set construction for Leading Ladies. Our first show opens on September 20th, with previews on September 19th. Rehearsals are under way, and our first Set Saturday is this weekend. The schedule looks like this

  • Saturday, Aug. 25th: Set Saturday #1, 9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
  • Saturday, Sep. 1st: Set Saturday #2, 9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
  • Saturday, Sep. 8th: Set Saturday #3, 9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
  • Saturday, Sep. 15th: Set Saturday #4, 9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
  • (There will be a more detailed schedule for the crew posted later this week.)

These are open to all cast, crew, and anyone who wishes to get some set construction and painting experience under their belt. 9th graders are especially encouraged to attend as you will get a chance to learn the ropes of the WHS theater while actively participating. Come and go as you need, but either bring a lunch or some lunch money (as in the fast-food variety).

3) Technical Theater Clinics. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, September 4th-6th, 3:00 - 4:30 PM in the Little Theater. I'll post more about these next week, but make some time in your schedule to attend the three-day tech theater clinic/info session that we do at the beginning of every year. 9th graders should make a point to attend - techies who were active last year should also make a point of attending as we go through the procedures and learn how to use the new Little Theater Equipment. Safety, facility tours, procedures, Genie lift training and meet and greet the other directors will be part of these three days. Calendars will also be handed out, and information regarding crew sign-up for the musical will also happen.

4) Assemblies. This term, we have two: Homecoming on September 24th and 25th, and ITED (or Iowa Tests) Recognition Assembly on October 10th and 11th. The second assembly is a new addition - we used to do it in January; last year we didn't do the assembly because of the change of test dates, and now we do it in October. We'll discuss that in more detail at the Technical Theater Clinics as well.

There's much more to this trimester than what I have here, but I should probably leave a few things for future posts. Look for some additional tech theater info as well, such as lighting, sound, tools, and cool web things that are tech theater related. (OK, some won't have anything to do with tech theater, but they will be very cool.) Stay connected with tech theater at this site.

Techies rule!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Once Again, Into the Breech, Dear Friends ...

Call it "Phase II," call it "The Second Reckoning,"or "The Revenge of the Red Tape." Call it what you will.

I call it "Long Overdue."

This week, the Little Theater rigging project began. In one day, the good folks from Tiffin Scenic Studios wrought their demolition powers, and had the original Little Theater rigging - with the exception of the electrics - cleaned out. What they found was not surprising. Well, it was surprising, but not in the way that we hoped.

For those not close to the situation, here's the skinny. Our little theater for its entire existence relied upon three hand-crank winches to raise and lower the electrical battens - primarily for the purpose of hanging lights from the ground instead of using our lift. All three winches were attached to one 2x12 firmly bolted to the wall. Our main curtain was hung from the ceiling on its track, and the remaining curtains - well, we haven't had any since 1995. In short, we had a functional theater that was not completely equipped.

Danger tape and plywood signs - now a distant memory.
During our preparation for the show Harvey in September of 2010, we began to have trouble with the middle winch - it wouldn't move the batten. Closer inspection showed a frayed cable, and a head block -  a pulley mounted from the roof I-beam - that was jammed. Then we really started looking. There were LOTS of problems, not among the least being the large 2x12 that anchored the winches to the wall was showing signs of weakening. We stopped everything at that point, and had Derek (the technical director from Theater Cedar Rapids and experienced rigger) take a close look. He told us we shouldn't do anything else with the battens. (Actually, what he said was more shocking and urgent than that, but for now, let's just say he was plain about his recommendation.) The district came in the following Monday AM, secured the battens to the I-Beams, and covered our wall with red tape and all sorts of danger warnings. For the uninformed, there would be no mistaking the message: don't touch the winches.

It should be mentioned that by this time, we already knew that the rigging in both theaters was scheduled to be replaced; the timetable for the Little Theater was set for Summer of 2012. I thought this might bump it up because of the safety issues. We were assured that since the winches and battens were secured, it would be OK, so the schedule stayed unchanged,

Welded head blocks: boo!
The equipment removed by Tiffin during the first day showed that while we had exhausted this equipment beyond usefulness, there were signs that this wasn't the first time that repairs or quick fixes had been made. The cables were worse than we thought - and considering that we thought they were in bad shape, this is really saying something - and the winches showed sign of excessive wear in parts that shouldn't show wear. Probably the most disturbing was the pulleys that had been repaired a long time ago - they had be welded back together. (I will grant that in some cases welds can be stronger than the steel they are knitting together, but according to our installers, this was probably not the soundest of ideas.) The photo to the right shows one of these head blocks.

The good news is that the new rigging will be installed before The Fourth of July, which means that we will be able to work on the set for Leading Ladies as we hoped - starting sometime in the first or second week of August. More on that in later postings. For now, take a look at what our naked Little Theater looks like. It won't look too much different than this when it's done, save for the new curtains and tracks that allow us to adjust where we put those lovely new black curtains. Oh, and we'll have a roller cyc for the back of the theater as well ... but I get ahead of myself. I'll post more about those items as they get installed.

Phase II is now moving along - and I'm thankful for that. Stay tuned for more updates.