Friday, May 20, 2011


I just finished working on the Drexel Players production of Noises Off!. It is the final mainstage production in the season before I graduate. Definitely worked my ass off to help put on an amazing show. I spent the majority of the past 1.5 months working on building the revolving set. I took any role I could to learn all aspects to learn what it took to put on such a massive show.

My addiction to paint was put to use during this show. There were many pieces of wood painted to look like wood in a two step process during this show. First the piece of wood was painted yellow and then wood brown.  Basically colors that are similar to my high school colors. The process was tediously mindless and I was okay with that. Actually i loved it.

Not only was I able to utilize my painting skills, I also got the opportunity to get over my fear of the catwalk that hung over the house. During focus, I got assigned the lights in-between the two catwalks. In true spider monkey fashion, I climbed over the safety bar to adjust the lights for the show. It was pretty awesome to develop the ability to ignore the fear of being so high to fulfill my assignment. Definitely a useful skill to apply to my every day life.Not only was I able to work on the production side, but I got the opportunity to be on run-crew. This has been a goal of mine for the past 3 years, and to finally achieve it was simply amazing. Boy, was I in for a challenge when I accepted the opportunity to be on run-crew.

I was super excited for tech to the point there were 5-6 alarms set. Unfortunately they weren't loud enough. Luckily I woke up not too late, (but still late) for the start of tech. For those of you not involved in theatre. Tech is the time when the crew works together for the first time. The actors have been rehearsing for weeks so they know what they are doing. They don't know however, know how to get in sync with what they crew is doing. For example, learning the rhythm of how the show runs and how to work the transitions.

I was mess going into tech. I learned that I got assigned to wardrobe and this worried me greatly. Mainly because the last time I sewed was while I was still involved in Girl Scouts. I was a member of troop 900 from kindergarden until sophomore year of college. Sophomore year was two years ago, and it had been years prior since i held a needle. Learning new skills at a rapid rate is a bit intimidating. I scheduled time with the costume shop director to start reviving my sewing skills. Even though I tried to prevent this from happening, the majority of tech was spent being frustrated and on the last day, i freaked out and cried.

Although my first/tech experience was emotional, I learned an enormous amount. The technical director, Mark Andrews and the Stage manger of the production, Katie (who is also one of my good friends) sat down with me and basically explained the process of what it takes to be on run-crew. I was not alone in expressing an immense amount of frustration during tech. Also during the sit down, I was able to learn about the hierarchy of production. For example, the producer, technical director and stage manger all have leadership roles during different stages of a production. If you want to learn more, watch Mel Brooks's The Producer or Wikipedia information. (I would choose to watch the Producers first.)

Even though tech was full emotions, I stayed strong and continued to be on the run-crew. There were definitely moments where I wanted to quit. But overall, I am happy I stayed. What I did on wardrobe was quick change Sweetpea, he played Tim in our production, and make sure Brooke (played by Laura) and Tim had their outfits on side of their entrances. What that means is, during the transition before the start of Act II, I had to make sure Tim had his change of shirts, pants and shoes were on stage left as well as Brooke's sunglasses, purse and fur coat. While at the same time, making sure props were in their proper spot for the start of Act II and the as the set moved I watched the wire. I was quite forunate to have so many jobs. Also it was extremely fulfilling to constantly having the feeling of being needed.

One of the main fears, I had going into this production being on run-crew was overcoming that fear of not being needed. That the only reason I was put on the crew was being I was a senior and this was the last opportunity for me to be on run-crew.  Thankfully, I was needed and this intensified my backstage experience.

Because I had a purpose, this allowed me to loosen up and really soak in the Noises Off! backstage environment. There were so many elements needed to put on this production, it was fascinating to watch them all come together. Every person had a role to play, but how everyone got into and played their role was different. The each actor had a very different process of how they got into character. And since I was part of wardrobe, I got to witness their transformation into the person written in the script but with their individualize flair. And then it was a whole another ball game as to how the run-crew prepared for roles in the production. The sound technicians created a light show with their sound check to music.  Definitely a crew bonding experience.  The theatre is very theatrical. More so then the average patron realize.

Watching everyone in their element was definitely an experience, that not many people opportunity people get to experience. And with the way the arts as a whole are going, this frightens me. My experience working on the production of Noises Off! definitely enlighten me on how my senior project can be used to change the arts. Right now they are all fighting for the same consumer, yet the team behind the curtain knows how to work together to put on a production that combines many different elements. Why can't performing arts groups as a whole unite?

That is the question, I am answering with my senior project. And i a starting by uniting college students using the arts as a meeting ground. If it wasn't for my involvement with the show Noises Off!, I don't I would be able to create such a clear way to change the arts as a whole for the better on a global level. It is simply baffling, how one event can accumulate an immense knowledge that can be applied to other parts of my life. I knew my senior project was going to help future Mandell productions, however I did not expect to gain a new perspective on life and how this experience brought my senior project to a new level of improvement.

While I was absorbing the experience of this opportunity, I made cards for some of the cast and crew. Unfortunately i wasn't able to make cards for everyone, but luckily I was invited to the senior gala to give the rest out. To make the cards I handed out to people, I first drew out a stencil and then used it to cut out stars. Once there were enough stars, I colored them  in various colors and patterns before I sewed them to customized card size using turquoise and royal purple thread. On the last day of the run, I printed out pictures of people I took the night before at the cast party and then sewed them on the opposite side of the card from the star inside the card. On the inside of the card, I wrote a personalized note to every recipient. There reason I put so much effort into the cards, is because I wanted people to realize how much it meant to me for them to include me as a member of the crew. This was a very special production for me. I wanted everyone to know that I was taking it seriously.


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