Tag Archives: Stage Directions

March Goes in Like a Link

It’s the end of the week, but the beginning of a new month. This is conference month for those of us in technical theatre. First is SETC, happening next week (March 5-9) in Louisville, KY. Shortly after is USITT, taking place March 19-23 in Milwaukee, WI. I will be at both if you wanted a chance to catch up or introduce yourself. At USITT, Stage Directions will be hosting a book signing for my book at their booth on Friday, March 22nd, at 12:30 PM. More info to come. For now, enjoy these links:

My latest magazine article in Stage Directions is now online; I profile the Milwaukee Rep props shop, home of props master Jim Guy. Milwaukee also happens to be the location of this year’s USITT conference. Coincidence?… actually, no, we chose to write about Milwaukee Rep for this issue precisely because of USITT.

The designer of the Dalek from Doctor Who, Ray Cusick, died this past week. The Verge has some videos and a story about him and how the Daleks came to be.

When the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre shut its doors in March 2012, its production facilities and prop storage were abandoned and surrendered to the landlords who owned the building. Jim Buckshon was subleasing part of that building at the time for his company, Renegade Productions, and decided to lease the entire building and save the props. Read the whole story to see how Buckshon took on one of Vancouver’s largest prop collections and kept it intact for future productions.

Weta Workshop — the design/production/creature/FX shop behind films such as The Lord of the RingsKing Kong and Avatar — recently solicited questions for their Mold Shop Supervisor, Michael Wallace.  Mike answers those questions about working in a mold shop, materials and techniques he uses, and his own background.

AJ Catalano is a sci-fi prop maker who has built items for films ranging from The Avengers and The Amazing Spiderman, to The Muppets. Check out this video where he talks about his background and the work he does:

Exploding Cuckoo Clock

Last fall, I did the props on Crazy for You. For those unfamiliar with the show, there is a scene were a cowboy shoots his gun off in the saloon. The bullets hit various objects in the room for comedic effect, including a cuckoo clock that explodes.

Cuckoo Clock, exploded
Cuckoo Clock, exploded

I have not shared any photographs or information on the clock yet because I was actually writing an article on it. The full details and pictures are now up in the latest issue of Stage Directions magazine in an article called “Don’t Go Cuckoo.”

I also shot a short video showing the action of how the clock cuckoos, explodes, and how long it takes to reset it for the next performance.

I am back

It was quite a busy summer, between Shakespeare in the Park in New York City, the Santa Fe Opera and editing the final manuscript for my book (as well as a brief trip to Italy thrown in there). I will be posting photographs  in the coming weeks of some of the more interesting projects I have completed.

You may have noticed a slight redesign to this blog. I’ve been meaning to update it for awhile, and then the whole thing sort of crashed, so I had to rebuild it from scratch. I hope it’s a little cleaner and more straightforward than previously. I’ll probably be tweaking it as time goes on, but nothing major.

I now have a site up for my book at propbuildingguidebook.com. Don’t get too excited, as there is not too much there at the moment, but it does have the table of contents and the cover. Over the next few months, the team at Focal Press will be proofreading and editing the text as well as laying out all the photos and illustrations in the interior. I should be receiving a mock-up of all that in a few months, and once I check over and approve everything, it will be sent off to the printing presses, which will take another few weeks. If everything stays on schedule, it will be available to purchase next February. I will be filming some companion videos for the book, which may begin to appear on the site in the weeks leading up to the book’s release.

In case you missed it, I also had an article in the August issue of Stage Directions magazine. “Make Your Props Pop” looks at three different props built by the shops at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Trinity Repertory Company and Paper Mâché Monkey. The last one was built for the current Broadway production of Peter and the Starcatcher. Interestingly, this article was originally supposed to run earlier in the Spring, but it was bumped to a later issue because of space restraints. In that time, Peter and the Starcatcher won Tony Awards in all its design categories, so I reworked some of the article to include that.

Friday’s Rehearsal Report

Through some bizarre set of circumstances, we find ourselves here at the Public Theater in technical rehearsals for three different productions within the same week. I sometimes wish all the theatre that is made from September to November could be spread out over the entire year. Until then, we keep on moving and keep on working. And we keep on reading this blog, because I have some excellent links for you!

Yours truly has an article in this month’s issue of Stage Directions magazine, in which I detail our shop’s process for creating a break-away wall for The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. So head on over and read it, and maybe leave a comment.

This has to be seen to be believed. Gabriel Suranyi spent 19 years creating a scratch built model of the USS Enterprise naval aircraft carrier. The site has dozens of photographs showing off the astounding level of detail.

Thanks to Seán McArdle for pointing me to this fantastic arrangement of nearly a hundred vintage spraypaint cans.

Paint-Sculpt has a nice little tutorial on sculpting realistic skin texture. They have a few other helpful tutorials as well.

Friday, Friday, Friday, Fun, Fun, Fun Links

Welcome to Friday, everyone. I have some fun sites to keep you from getting bored at work today.

In honor of Father’s Day, Make Magazine has a post on 10 Projects to Make with Dad for Kids 10 and Under, as well 10 Projects to Make with Dad for Kids Over 10.

Also at Make is this great interview with food sculptor Ray Villafane. Not only are the pictures incredible, but his explanation of his carving process is very clear and well thought out; it’s helpful even if food is not your medium of choice.

Stephen Ellison talks about using plastics—foam in particular—for theatrical purposes in this Stage Directions article.

Finally, here are some great photographs of intimate spaces of renowned artisans. On a personal note, the first photograph of Henry Mercer’s home is where my wife and I were married. Not right inside his bedroom; it was on the grounds surrounding his home and in the courtyard of his tile factory.