CriticalDance Forum

Diary of a "Nut"
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Author:  BabsLights [ Sun Nov 19, 2000 8:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Diary of a "Nut"

<B>Nut Load in minus 9 days:</B><P>It's nine days to the load in of my first Nutcracker of this season.<P>This year it is much easier, in terms of preparation of the actual lighting plot. All of that work was done last year, when I was first hired to re-light the show. But I did have to make some adjustments to the plot....for instance, I went through and eliminated all lighting instruments that were never used. Then I also wanted to change a few gel colors (was I nuts last year when I actually thought I would be needing a green backlight wash?). <P>The artistic director also had some additions he wanted to make. Last season he and I spent some time watching the show and making notes about what we wanted to try this year.<P>Some key areas we wanted to work on were:<BR>(And this is a Blanchine you know the tale)<P>-The transition of Dros coming in to find the sleeping Marie...and putting his magic on the little Nutcracker: Some thought this too dark. Some thought it too bright. Some thought it just right. I personally felt it was ugly as sin. But because of all the moves of the set at that point, it was never a part of the show that I could spend more then a minute on. This year, it will look better, I hope, and I will to be able to touch it up quickly.<P>- Snow. Oh, my goodness, Snow. The artistic director used words to describe that scene I hope I never hear again (the most positive was: "It looks a lot better then last year" - the most descriptive was his comparison of it's similarities to old snow in New York City). This is a major re-work this year. Plus, although it makes more work for the electricians, I have added a gel change in the booms. Out come the pinks and ambers used for the party scene, and in go ALL cool colors. This should help a great deal. This year, I want people to be able to say more then, 'Well, it's an improvement'.<P>The crew started prepping the lights, and gels, and set last Wednesday. I have turned in the plot, and the new hanging schedule (shows where set items are hung) and the new gel list. We've had our conversation about the fans for snow. (And we still are solving that little challenge, too). The fans we used last year just didn't give what the AD was looking for. So we are trying a new placement for them, as well as some other kinds. The trick is to blow a huge blizzard onstage while the snow is falling, but keep from moving any of the legs and borders of the set. No small challenge.<P>My assistant this year is to be a student from a local university. I have not met him yet, and that's a little nerve-racking. I know he'll be well-trained. And I know he comes from the same educational background as I (same school) but hopefully I'll get to at least speak with him prior to 8am on the morning of load in.<P>The two electricians for the company are great - Billy and Tommy...they sound like a rock band, and they do rock. Billy is a gadget guru, and loves to build electrical things. Last year he completely re-wired the tree for me, and then was disappointed when it only got applause once (and he didn't hear it). I promised him last year, we'd make it so magical this year, he'd get applause every night for his efforts. Tommy was the master electrician several years ago when I did Swan Lake for these folks. He's amazing, too.<P>Things should also be easier for the stage manager this year. The cues are in his book, and he had a bunch of shows last year to get used to it. It's hard when you have been calling the same cues for years, and then suddenly you really have to learn it all again. Nutcracker cues are in very obvious places, but there are still new numbers to know, and new timings to understand.<P>Tomorrow they are back in the warehouse working again. I wonder what the day will bring...<P><BR>

Author:  BabsLights [ Mon Nov 20, 2000 6:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Diary of a "Nut"

<B>Nut Load in minus 8 days:</B><P>As I was drifting off to sleep last night, and smugly going through my head the list of things finished and ready for the load in, and contemplating my list of things from yesterday's post, I was jolted to the reality I forgot something!<P>Oh my gosh! The DataFlashes! I forgot the DataFlashes! I need channels, I need power ( I think I need power...I gotta read the manual still!), I need space on the electric batten and on the boom. (And I need to reprint all the paperwork, and the plot, and head BACK down to Kinkos where I once again have to explain why I want this drawing to be made exactly double its size. Oy.<P>We added lightening last year to light Dros in the shadows for his first appearance onstage after the party. We used two strobes at two different levels on the boom close to his hiding place. <P>Billy hated those strobes. Because he had to operate them himself, and every night he worried if it looked alright (and it always looked great, but he is the ultimate perfectionist, which is why I love him!) He started a campaign after opening night to get a Dataflash or more to do it (which is controled by the lightboard). So, during the year the ballet got four of these things. And I have to add them!<P><I>Evening:</I><P>Well, I thought it was going pretty smoothly...I had heard nothing from the shop about any questions about the prep, aside from an initial call from the production manager.<P>4:15pm, just as I am trying to field a call, and get out the door to catch a bus, the phone rings. No mention of who it is. In a year, I have forgotten the Billy doesn't actually introduce him self he just starts talking...and it usually starts simply with "Barb!" and not much else. You have to draw him out to try and figure out who it is.<P>I'm busted on the DataFlash situation. "Where are they going?" At least I thought of it bwfore he asked and it interupted my sleep...I feel less guilty, somehow. I tell him I know, I forgot, working on it this evening, new drawings tomorrow. (And also his long awaited LARGE drawing - right now the guys are working from an 1/8th inch scale).<P>It never ceases to amaze me how a conversation that starts with "Two things" can lead to "this is wrong" and "you need to change this" and "last year, didn't we do" whatever it was. 20 minutes later at least, we're on to bargaining about the use of some lighting instruments that seem to have been found in the back somewhere. I can hear Tom in the background assisting in the sell...but it's an odd sell when they have no idea what it is...just that "It's bright" and "It's good" and "You mean matching intensity is important to you?" Yep, I can safely say it is. We're talking about 8 lights or so being used to light the entire stage for the battle. Those puppies have got to be similar. It is actually Tom's voice in the background that is selling me, as I know Billy would try and sell ice to an Eskimo. Okay, throw the unknowns in!<P>We banter some more, and I am again reminded that an important part of every designer/electrician relationship is that special bonding time we shall call: "What you did wrong". And there are things wrong, and it means a lot to be able to tell me. Sadly I have left some really stupid things for him to find from my bleary-eyed, flu induced coma of last week. I can hear the production manager in the background guffawing about a couple things he is hearing, and Tom assisting with the litany of "Oh, and another thing". At some point I even hear the stage manager in the background...and he works in another building - something about Billy stealing his cable. Everyone is around for our special time it seems.<P>I finally get off the phone, and out the door, only to return an hour later to a message awaiting from the stage manager, Joel.<P>Joel's pretty amazing. We have had conversations about calling shows. I call modern dance, and I rarely have a score. My notes and drawings and charts are all based on movements and outright memorizing of the music and counts, with my notes to assist. I have called ballets from a score. If I had a score, I'd use it, too, but I never feel as comfortable as I do with my complete stick figure interpretation of the entire show. <P>When I first called a part of ballet for a pretty major company south of here, I toiled over my book. I had the score, and I had reference notes in it referring to the book with my figures and notes. Back and forth I would go between the two. I was a nevous wreck. It was quite awhile before I felt comfortable enough with knowing the show, that I wasn't asking (begging) the sound man to set up the video system yet again for me in some back corner during the load in.<P>Joel on the other hand, is a ballet guy, a musician at heart I think. He reads music like words. And he is very comfortable with it. You can be in the office with him, and he's humming his way through to find a specific note for a specific cue. It seems like he hums all the parts, as well! He has said he would not be comfortable with the stick figures thing. Two different worlds. But here's what I find amazing. He once told me, that even if he doesn't have a score for some piece of music...he sits down and writes it out, musically. Now that's a msuician! Simply amazing.<P>Joel is looking for an updated follow spot cue sheet. Although he has all the cues in his book, he wants to make sure he has the correct frame numbers listed for calling the cues. I'll bring that over to him tomorrow as well. We chat about general things: state of the arts, state of the dance, etc., and even learn that he does on occasion visit I try to entice him to post a similar thread - the stage manager's diary. We wonder if it would work...if he's complaining about me, and I'm complaining about him about something, but I say we could make a pact that we agree to work it out before and after, and it's a clean slate in the theatre. We start talking about who else from other departments we could get to do the same thing. I hope he does it.<P>Well, I have some paper work to update, and some corrections to make now.<P>But I must remember to leave something wrong for Billy to find. I'd hate to ruin his day tomorrow.<P><p>[This message has been edited by BabsLights (edited November 20, 2000).]

Author:  Basheva [ Mon Nov 20, 2000 7:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Diary of a "Nut"

This is intriguing Babs - really. Very interesting to hear how someone else sees things. It's like a picture from another world of expertise.........and a world we, as dancers, all depend on.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Nov 20, 2000 8:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Diary of a "Nut"

Babslight, this is really interesting for an outsider like me. I'm looking forward to the day by day account.

Author:  BabsLights [ Wed Nov 22, 2000 9:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Diary of a "Nut"

<B>Nut Load in minus 7 days:</B><P>My goodness...changes, changes, changes. But after a long conversation with one of the master electricians (Billy and Tommy share the job) I think we have all of the information up to the minute on the light plot.<P>There is still some new equipment missing, so there will still be some question as to what exactly some instruments will be, but Billy has back up plans for the back up plans, and I think we're ready to go.<P>The only thing they have left to do is the hanging tapes for the load in. They have been working on them, but were awaiting the large version of the plot to assist with that. Billy also wants to go over those Monday evening so he's completely up to speed at 8am Tuesday morning. Interesting, that's the same reason I have decided to to re-do my focus charts this having to think about each individual instrument and what it is doing, I hope it will be that much fresher on Tuesday. There's over 300 instruments in this show. And last year was a long time ago. <P>The crew is done working in the warehouse, and only Billy returns on Monday. I have to do the Kinko's run, but after that, things should be calm until the start of the week. No one is around for the Thanksgiving holiday.<BR>

Author:  BabsLights [ Mon Nov 27, 2000 2:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Diary of a "Nut"

<B>Nut Load in minus 1 day:</B><P>The calm before the storm. The paperwork waits. The notebooks wait. The pencils wait. Everything waits.<P>Today was a series of "just checking in" calls. I called the stage manager to check in. The production manager called me to check in. The unknown student/future assistant called me to check in. Everyone is ready to go. <P>Trucks were being loaded today at the warehouse. Our security manager here at my job is also a stagehand, and was on that call. Lots of jokes about me using every light in the house, and then some. (Which I flatly deny, and will happily drive over there now to show that there should still be lighting equipment on at least one shelf!)<P>8:00am tomorrow is mighty early, but we need all the time we can get. We are scheduled to work until 10pm tomorrow evening. Plenty of time to visit with and get to know Liam (the assistant) and share Thanksgiving stories with the production gang.<P>Now, off to look over paperwork again, and shopping to stock up on Nicorette gum and Mountain Dew and some as of yet undetermined source of choclate. And early to bed.<P>

Author:  BabsLights [ Wed Nov 29, 2000 4:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Diary of a "Nut"

<B>Load In Day</B><P>It's here. And it's here mighty early. And the day starts off with a surprise.<P>The person we thought would be the house electrician is not. <P>The electrics crew is filled with great folks. Some of them, I know, took the call to help me out. Are they here because they have heard me whine for a year about last season? Probably. Should I feel quilty for whining? I do for a bit, and then recover....when I see how quickly everything is happening. It's great! We are at respectable stopping points at coffee, lunch, coffee, dinner, and coffee. What a relief!<P>The other aspects of load in seem to go well, too. I think everyone seems calm. That was not the sense I got last year after the dinner break.<P>After dinner, we do eventually get to start focusing the front of house positions. Although we do not get it completely finished (which had been my hope when everything was getting done so smoothly) we do get farther then we did last year - this year the cove and the box booms are finished in somewhat over an hour. I seem to be holding a barometer to all things by "last year". Last Year - how things can go wrong. I cling to any hope to prove that this year is going better.<P>Liam, the assistant is here, and doing well. I'm a little sorry for him, as it's a long day without a whole lot to do, and he's obviously tired from school. We sit down to watch the video tape of the show, and he keeps dozing off. hmmm. (Actually, it was not an attempt to torture the fellow; I learned that you really can't describe to someone easily the plot. He hasn't seen it before, and through talking about it, I figured he better become more familiar with it for what's ahead. Everyone else knows it inside and out. He'll be at a loss.) He takes the paperwork home to update it, which means he actually has to type it in to the lighting program he uses...different from mine. Although I suggest that I can export it for him this evening, he seems to want to do it this way. I suspect he may be interested in it for the same reason I did some sheets over - familiarity with the plot.<P>10:00pm comes quickly, but in many ways, not soon enough. But we are ready to focus.<P><p>[This message has been edited by BabsLights (edited November 29, 2000).]

Author:  BabsLights [ Wed Nov 29, 2000 5:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Diary of a "Nut"

<B>Focus Day</B><P>8:00am definitely came too quickly!<P>To add extreme pressure and stress to a day I always find stressful anyway - I'm stuck in a traffic jam. And I left EARLIER today then I did yesterday, to make SURE I had no troubles. I call the production manager's cell phone, to tell him, I am on my way, but have to leave a message. They have to do some trimming before I can start anyway, so they can do that before I get there.<P>I arrive at the production office out of breath, panicked, and 15 minutes late. Liam and David (the PM) are sitting calmly in the room, and David's first words are "Relax, don't worry". Well, simply put, why not?<P>Turns out there's been a snafu with the union call. One department seems to have been sent to the wrong theatre. Conveniently enough, that was the fly department. So we sit waiting for the call that they have arrived.<P>By the time they get everything trimmed where it needs to be, and I get the master electrician at his position to start the focus, it's almost 9am when we are underway focusing.<P>Again using the "Last Year" scale, things start well. The balcony rail goes very quickly, as opposed to last year's two hours. I won't even get in to that situation....too painful to recall - but I will say that for a brief, heart-stopping moment this morning when I looked out front to start, I thought I was facing the same situation. Thank goodness, it's okay.<P>Best news of the week is that the house has a new "Genie" lift. This is used to take the electrican up to the electric to focus the lights. This new one has a maximum foot print, with outriggers fully extended for safety, of four feet. This means that, like a Volkswagen, this thing can be parked ANYWHERE....and even more to the point, it can be parked between two sets of legs, with the legs on the ground. The older lift, referred to throughout the day as the lunar landing module, has about a 12' span AND needs a drop to be 3-4 feet above it's legs. Focusing with the LEM is like shooting with your eyes closed. You focus the the light where you think it won't hit any set pieces, and then drive past, lower the set to its proper place, realize you were wrong, and go back to adjust later. You do most everything twice.<P>This theatre is a drop and roll house (as all should be when you are using a lift). This means that everytime the lift moves, the bucket and the electrician lower to the ground. 30-60 seconds to drop, then move, then set the outriggers, then 30-60 seconds to raise. Time ticks slowly by. Ideally, we are running two lifts, focusing to electrics at the same time. I quickly abandon the second lift onstage, however when I see how easily the new lift can be used to park. <P>I send Liam and the second crew upstage to focus some back lighting on a drop (translucent flowers) where there is already a huge gap between the backdrop and the electric. I have no idea what Liam's experience is with focusing, but no time like the present - trial by fire as it were. And he comes through fine. As I clear out of the downstage area with the Mighty Mini lift, he moves in with the LEM for another pipe of backlight. Liam also is doing a good job, even while focusing, of keeping track of what I am doing, and keeping notes.<P>At lunch, I am torn between feeling we are in good shape or bad shape. It could go either way, and frankly, it will be tight time wise. I sit on the couch contemplating this, and start adding numbers in my head...could I go faster, what should I have done faster. What can I cut? 8 hours day...why not further. This is when I realize that right off the bat, an 8 hour day is NEVER an 8 bhour day, it's really a 7 hour day. I never thought about it before. You have two coffee breaks. They are supposed to be 10 minutes. They are always 15. There's a half hour. Then there's this rule about clean up. All work stops dead at 15 minutes before the end of the call. And I don't mean that at 15 minutes, then people put the stuff away, things fly out, etc, and people prepare to wash up. They start pulling stuff at 20 minutes so that at 15 minutes their coats go on. The theatre is bare of people at 10 minutes before. So, you have that happen before lunch, and before the end of the call, that's another half hour.<P>That last part of the afternoon is a three hour call. (Which really means 2 1/2 hours) and as the clock ticks closer and closer to the coffee break, I'm panicked. As we are focusing, I'm thinking further about what to cut. Liam, whether he expected it of not, has moved on to advanced focusing...the booms. He's doing a fantastic job, and in a challenging way. Whether he chose it, or the guys set him up that way - I see him struggling to focus booms opposite each other. Which means you are as good as blind. Not the way I like to do them, especially quickly, and I ask him if he wouldn't prefer to work one side and then the other. He says he's okay, so I let it go - but I strongly suspect, it was a set up, and he may be nervous to change it. He's doing fine, and quickly catches up with us upstage, so I actually have to hold them off while we finish with specials...there's no way he and I can see with booms from both sides, and my stuff overhead all hitting the same 5 foot width of stage.<P>Fortunately, at the coffee break, David decides to offer two options. We can either come in a half hour early tomorrow, or we can go an extra hour tonight. We decide to keep going with the crew we have. No one is very happy, I know that. I also know I am a very unpopular person....the silence around the stage is deafening. They were supposed to leave at 5pm (4:50pm local time) and they're gonna be late for dinner.<P>At 5:15, I am finished focusing. We even have time to check the curtain warmers, and pick up fixing a light I let go earlier in the crush for time. And best of all, we have a chance to work with the new Data Flashes. I read the manual last night. And I re-read it. And then I read it again. So having some time for all of us, the ME for the house, the MEs for the ballet, and I to work with them.<P>Now, tomorrow's two hour work call can be totally devoted to working with the light levels. Yeah! The crew is grumbly, but politely smiling. Fortunately no one is crushed in the race for the door. Everyone who knows me has had ample opportunity for getting their digs in, though it's been all good natured typical crew stuff.<P>But we're ready. Really ready, for tomorrow.<BR><p>[This message has been edited by BabsLights (edited November 29, 2000).]

Author:  Azlan [ Wed Nov 29, 2000 11:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Diary of a "Nut"

Oh, Babs, this is so much fun to read! Thank you.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Nov 29, 2000 11:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Diary of a "Nut"

Barb, that was magic! Despite my ignorance of such matters, your account gave me a real feel for what this hectic set-up day was like and your descriptions were clear enough for me to understand what you were you trying to achieve.<P>I do hope you will continue the saga through to the first night.<P>

Author:  BabsLights [ Fri Dec 01, 2000 5:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Diary of a "Nut"

<B>Work call, spacing rehearsal, tech rehearsal</B><P>Good grief. Keep me away from tall buildings or sharp objects right now. I might hurt myself.<P>I arrived at the theatre early it turns out. I had an older copy of the schedule. But it's always nice to have a little breathing time. So I breathe. <P>The work call goes smoothly. We have ample time to update the cues to add the new special effects. It also provides us with ample time to bring the board operator up to date on a few little quirky things he has to do to run the show...little gifts of love left from last year's operator, thank you very much. It quickly becomes apparent that we can't clean up some of these silly things, nor can we be too complicated in the programming of the new stuff. Added to that some confusion about the location of some buttons on the board....I'm getting a headache.<P>And the headache arrives just prior to the 100 children here to rehearse spacing. Nice timing. Just prior to coffee break, we set the stage for the Battle, and the kids have the floor. When we return from coffee, we turn one of the Battle cues on, so they can get used to running around in twirling primary colors. Fortunately we have time to adjust the speed of the twirling templates, before any kids get car sick....or more to the point, before the crew and I do - the kids seem fine. All the different Battle casts are put through their paces battling the imaginary 6 feet mice.<P>The artistic director arrives during this rehearsal, and we chat for a bit, before he goes on the stage to watch the staging. Many folks are drawn to the lip of the stage to watch, as the activity is cute. I will admit that.<P>Blissfully, the battle part of the rehearsal ends as scheduled, so we are no longer surrounded by baby mice, soldiers, rabbit, fox, etc. times 5, and we clear the stage to set the second act for the angels. This is good, because the second act set is somewhat similar in color to the snow set, so I can work lights for that. Also, the angels are smaller and seem to need to be led around the stage by hand. They are newer at this, so there is less running and tendency to touch EVERYTHING then during the battle rehearsal.<P>Angels quickly learn their jobs, and we are on to the company. The company for Nutcracker is huge; all the different casts are here. It is greatly inflated with many older students from the school. These dancers are the ones that always seem to being desperately trying to look totally cool and like they belong, yet inevitably seem to be in some important line of traffic. The company dancers are actually harder to spot - they know where to go to stay out of harm's it's little surprises as you roam the stage and run into the people you know and haven't seen for a few weeks. Hugs. Kisses. Brief snatches of conversation.<P>I ask to have the boom colors changed to their real second act colors. As the company works through the grand finale, I can work on some light cues. After various casts for the finale have worked their issues out, we move on to flowers, so I have an opportunity to work on that section. I am, however, very hesitant to make too many changes, as virtually every girl on the stage is in black or dark color of some sort. If I change too much, I will be in for a very rude surprise when they appear this evening in their baby-pink and baby-blue flower costumes.<P>15 minutes before the dinner break, we come to a crashing halt, and it's off to the local fast food restaurant for some fat (aka comfort food)<P>During the half hour before the tech rehearsal, we adjust the fans again, to look at where they are focused for the snow, and the crew is setting for the first act. <P>The first act is like being shot out of a canon. The cues are so fast, there is little time to be adjusting things as we go. Suddenly, with the clock in its correct position, it looks like a super nova, and trying to get those lights off of it is catch as catch can. Some cues we let go, as called, others I hold the stage manager off until I can adjust. There are a couple stops for the dancers, so we can catch up during those moment.<P>One of the complicated changes is from the post-party to the battle. We are behind lighting cues, the bed special is in the wrong place for the new bed location, and the topper of the event is the growing tree only has the top portion of it lights working (wrong sub master up). The castle's interior light flicks on and off, and one of the lights in the pit has dropped to light the pit only. Excuse me, but what's the fastest way to the exit?<P>Then it's on to snow. Oh, snow, oh snow. The transition is messed up, and we see that especially beautiful sit of the drop upstage revealing all lights on the cyc. That's pretty. The two dancers are bourreeing and boureeing and bourreeing waiting for the light they need. Light finally arrives, and it's still not great. Fortunately, the light on the dancers looks much better with all the cool colors, unfortunately, the lighting for the set is still not we scramble madly to see if there is absolutely anything anywhere that will hit the set where the director wants it. (Which is tough, since the lights are focused OFF the set). We do find a few things we can throw at it. The amount of light on the back drop is a lot....I wonder how much more it can take before little wisps of steam can be seen. The director likes what he sees us working on, so we know what direction to head in tomorrow during the work call.<P>There is a change over to act two, and finally, we can be calm. act two you can work....and also, it was in pretty good shape last year. I add a few things here and there, to make use of some color changes I made and focus changes to adujust from last year.<P>And then we're done. Or at least the rehearsal is done, and there is nothing more you can do. I'm feeling dazed, and overwhelmed. We quickly retire to the production office to make plans for the next day. It's only two hours to work before the children arrive again. So that means really an hour and a half, when you take into consideration late start, coffee break, set change over, etc. We have some focus touch ups, and much to do with the lighting levels for the first act.<P>How the heck will it get done? The thoughts start streaming in about...gee, he'll never work with me again, etc. <P>I hate the first rehearsal.<P>But now I have several hours of paperwork ahead of me to prepare for tomorrow's festivities.

Author:  BabsLights [ Mon Dec 04, 2000 6:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Diary of a "Nut"

<B>Work call, spacing rehearsal, dress rehearsal</B><P>Although I arrive with quite a list of notes for our 1 1/2 hours of work call, we fly through them quickly, and Liam is able to finish the list while I start lighting the show drop. We find ourselves in a waiting mode frequently as the carpenters are needing to work on the tree which is the same area I need a lift to be working. But everyone gets their tasks completed and we head to the battle set up just prior to coffee break for the arrival of 100 little people to again battle their imaginary foes.<P>After coffee, the board op and I work on cues blindly (a way of altering cues in the light board, without affecting the cue that is visable onstage). Then it's time for the angels in act II so the set is changed over. The company then starts their spacing rehearsal, so I have an opportunity to work through some notes from last night for the second act. I pray to the gods of theatre that someone will announce that we need to have the snow set in. I am done with act II until I see costumes again, so we're just working on some aspects of tidying the cues. At one point, while we sit watching the lighting board starts flashing warnings on the monitors, which brings the board op, Liam and myself to full attention. There is an assumption that someone is messing with something backstage, so I head back there to make sure no one is doing something they shouldn't be, just as the stage plunges to darkness...not a good thing when people are dancing. fortunately, the house lights are on, so it is not a complete black out. From the house I scream for worklights, as does the school director. The yells and the sudden darkness onstage bring the stage manager running, followed shortly thereafter by the production manager (there's a monitor of the stage in the production office). After discussion, it appears that there was a power surge, and though the two light boards (one is a back up) are on a protector, the network running the two boards is not, and so the warnings were telling us the two boards were out of sync. The blackout was cause by the board op resetting the boards. That's good news (though embarrassing that my department did that to the dancers) because it means the black out was not a sign of worse board things to come.<P>The rehearsal continues, and then I hear the words I long to hear - "Can we go to snow?" yes yes yes, please oh please oh please. We have about 30 minutes of the snow set in when I can light. I concentrate on lighting the set - the girls are all in black again. But although we reserve judgement until the evening, when we have full effect of costumes and snow, the director does seem pretty happy with the changes we have made. Thank goodness. We're ready for the dress rehearsal.<P>Dress rehearsal starts out smoothly. I make a concerted effort to not be making changes during the fast series of cues that start and end the party scene, so that they can be called as they should be. There are still things that need to be altered, but I make notes and we do it blindly during the change over of the intermission. The snow scene looks good (what a relief) and the director seems happy. The second act also seems to be going smoothly - there's time to fix things as you go during that act. We stop at one point to be able to re-run some things dance-wise....once the curtain comes in, the rehearsal is over and we won't be able to go back. <P>It's a better feeling leaving dress rehearsal this evening, then last...though there are cues to be watched carefully during tomorrow's matinee, because of the amount of things changed blindly after we had run the first act.<P>

Author:  BabsLights [ Wed Dec 20, 2000 2:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Diary of a "Nut"

<B>Opening Day</B><P>The show opens. It almost seems like the matinee is to be final dress rehearsal, but it really isn't! There's an audience out there. The changes made from the night before, blindly, are fine. The director has a few minor things he would like attended to, and those are done quickly (and blindly) prior to the evening show. <P>I experience an interesting situation. For the show, my tickets are in the back row...underneath the huge balcony. I have been previously working from about row L or so, in front of the balcony. Suddenly the show seems very dark. Although I have checked to see what it was like from the balcony levels previously, I never would have thought to check a few rows back. I spend much of both acts wondering if I am simply tired or perhaps getting sick - that my eyes are affected. I mention this to Liam afterwards and he says he had noticed the same thing. I asked other people, and they saw no difference.<P>Anyone with any ideas, let me know...but we decided it was because under the balcony, the vast ceiling and walls are obscured, so perhaps the reflection off of the wall is missing, and therefore it seems darker.<P>The evening show gets a little off for some unknown reason. The eyes on the owl are on when the curtain goes up, and in the rush of everyone to fix that problem, other cues get behind. The eyes keeping turning off and then returning in the next cue...on and off, on and off. Since absolutely no one can say why it happened, it's actually more frustrating, because you can't troubleshoot. We establish Owl Eye Emergency Plan. If this happens again, the eyes will be unplugged. Instead of people, in two different areas (in the light booth at the light board, and backstage with the remote control trying to take it out)

Author:  BabsLights [ Wed Dec 20, 2000 3:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Diary of a "Nut"

<B>After thoughts </B><P>I am much happier this year with how the snow scenes and second act look. The second act, with it's all blue, and blue/green set, and costumes of pale pinks and peaches is a tough one. This year it seems to blend together better. The snow scene is certainly much better, though it could certainly uses some splashes of highlighting white on the some parts of the set. But there certainly is not A) any room on the electrics, or B) time in the schedules, for more lighting instruments.<P><BR>The first act I'm less happy with this year then last for some reason. Can't put my finger on it, but it's true. However, I do like the adjustments we made for the transitions from the party scene to the battle scene. <P>The show runs through the 28th of December. I'll probably see it once or twice before it closes. And I have final updates for paperwork, once I get some information from Liam.<P>So, another year passes. The past ten years or so, most holidays seem to be centered around Nutcrackers. I guess it's to be the rings around my trunk; the means by which I count years.<P>And you know what? I do enjoy it! A lot!<P>

Author:  Azlan [ Fri Apr 13, 2001 2:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Diary of a "Nut"

This was really fun, Babs. I vote to put it on the Features page.

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