Fake ‘n Bake: Ay-may! – It has been nearly four years since the Fake n’ Bake blog was regularly updated. That is about to change as the talented Aimee Plant takes over the site! Fake ‘n Bake has long been one of the go-to destinations for making fake food, and I am looking forward to learning some all new tips and tricks.
When a stagehand gets hurt, who pays? – Speaking of bad working conditions, we’ve probably all worked at a company that wrongly paid us with a 1099 instead of a W-2. Besides the tax issues that arise, this also means the company is not covering you under their worker’s compensation insurance, so when you get hurt moving a large statue of Virgin Mary during a scene change, you’re on the hook for your medical bills. This article highlights some of the theatre workers fighting to change all that.
Below the Surface – The River Amstel in Amsterdam was recently pumped dry, and archaeologists were able to dig up over 700,000 objects that spanned several centuries worth of history. They have photographed over 11,000 of these artifacts and present them at this website. The objects range from contemporary gambling tokens to prehistoric pottery fragments.
The following comes from the May 3, 1903 issue of The St. Paul Globe:
When the curtain drops at the close of every act of a drama or opera it is the signal for the players to rush for their dressing rooms, some of the men in the audience to troop up the aisles in search of—a change of air, and the women to chat and—possibly to note what the other women are wearing.
But there is another class of individuals for whom the falling of the curtain means business, and the liveliest kind of business at that. They are the “stage hands.”
As the curtain strikes the floor a stentorian voice cries:
“Strike!” echoes another equally robust voice, and instantly there is a commotion on that stage that would bewilder a bystander, if he were permitted there at such a time—which he is not.
The first voice is that of the stage manager of the company playing at the theater. The second is that of the stage carpenter attached to the house. The commotion is the scurrying about of the stage hands, the property men and the electricians whose duty it is to clear the stage with the greatest possible celerity of all scenery, furniture and lighting paraphernalia that encumbers it. For perhaps the first act presented a street in a large city or the parlor of a rich man’s mansion, and the second is to picture a country lane or the wretched hovel of the poor but virtuous. Hence this bustle.
I’ve previously mentioned the massive auction of Rick Baker’s stuff at the end of this month. Check out this article on how Tom Spina Designs is preparing and preserving his work in anticipation of the sale. Some of these props and animatronics are decades old and were not built to last, but Tom and his crew have a ton of experience restoring and protecting items like this.
I missed this article from last autumn, but WNPR has a great profile on Ming Cho Lee. I think it’s safe to say that if you work in American theatre, you will eventually work with a designer who was trained by Ming. Not only has he shaped set design, but he has had a huge part in shaping design education.
Finally, here is a video from the 90s about the original animatronic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The technology that went into those suits were incredible. Unlike CGI, the suits can actually be performed in live; I wonder if any theatre company has ever used anything as sophisticated as these? That would be a cool show.
The DIY movement and small, creative businesses are becoming more and more important to the economy as a whole. Many props people either freelance as their own “business”, or run side businesses making things (such as selling things on Etsy). Save Us. Be Creative! takes a look at this growing trend.
On the other side of the coin, traditional theatre work is still worth fighting over. This past week saw the end of a particularly intense strike by IATSE stagehands at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. This article delves into the reasons behind it and why young theatre technicians spent two weeks outside in the cold and snow to protest their concerns. Coincidentally, the play the theatre was putting on was The Mountaintop, which imagines Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last day as he prepares to address a crowd of striking workers. The company could not find any workers to break the strike, so they tried to run it without any technical elements; this included having an actress sit in a folding chair and read the lighting and sound cues (“Thunder and lightning! Crack!”).