In the Midst of Tech

by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

Friday night, The Servant of Two Masters entered the newest phase of rehearsal: tech.  Technical Rehearsals (most commonly known as “tech”) is when we leave the classroom we’ve been rehearsing in and move on stage.  One by one, the technical elements of costume, make-up, lights, sound, and props are added, and every night we get a little closer to having the full show on stage.

For this show, the first order of business was spacing.  With the nature of the set, the cast needed time to see how blocking they’ve been practicing worked with the backdrop (with its door and shutters), the fountain, the ropes, and the entrances and exit.

Once the cast felt comfortable with the space, the second element added was props. While the cast had access to “rehearsal props” during the first few weeks (items that resemble or stand in place of the actual props), the transition from rehearsal props to real props can always be a little tricky. Some items don’t work the same way, or are a slightly different size or shape, and so the cast, director, stage manager and prop designer have to work together to make sure that everything is perfect.

Tonight we start to add two more elements: lights and costumes. Since lights and costumes can have a major effect on each other (just imagine what would happen if you had a beautiful red dress put under a dark green light), lights and costumes are being added together to make sure that both designers (as well as the director) are happy with the results.

With each night we are getting one step closer to the final look of the show!

And just to give you an idea, here’s a little sneak peak at one of our publicity photos…

servant pub

 

Design Insights: The Servant Set

by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

In our production meetings, we’ve had the privilege of seeing the evolution of the scenic design for The Servant of Two Masters. Designer Eric Fielding and his assistant Logan Hayden have been hard at work at creating a set that reflects director Stephanie Breinholt’s concept for the show.

The design accentuates Stephanie’s vision of a production where all the visual elements have a timeless feel, with no specific time period. Located in a traditional Italian piazza, the set combines different period from the forced perspective of historical design to the “Laugh-in” style of doors and windows.  The combination of these different elements, design styles and periods, creates the perfect stage for this zany production.

Here’s a picture of Eric’s original design.

Set Design courtesy of Eric Fielding

Set Design courtesy of Eric Fielding

And currently, if you walk through the tunnel of the HFAC, you can see the different elements under construction.

Photo Jan 30, 6 52 48 PMPhoto Jan 30, 6 53 13 PM

A Mediated Stage

by Ariel Mitchell, dramaturg

An essential part of The Civilians’ process is the inclusion of media. The Civilians outline their mission as “…tackling complex and under-explored subjects, enabling artists to enrich their processes through in-depth interaction with their topics, diversifying artistic voices and audiences, and integrating theater with new media.”  Since we are following their process we are looking for a fun new way to include media into our production as well.

The way we approached the set testifies to how we are striving to incorporate media. Our set designer, Noah Kershisnik, is actually a production designer. We have stolen this title from the world of film where a production designer is responsible for the look of the whole world not just one set. Noah has been working with all of us along the way interviewing and gathering story material as well as coming up with ideas for mediated moments and the physical look of the set. Although previously involved in theatrical productions, this is the first play he has designed. Because our play relies so heavily on media, our director, Prof. Lindsay Adamson Livingston, wanted to bring a person with theatrical as well as cinematic sensibilities to design the show.

The front view of the stage.

The front view of the stage.

The stage will be set up in the Margetts in a proscenium-esque setting. However we will try to avoid the movie theater vibe by having screens on the sides of the theater (above the audience on the left and right) as well as in the front.

The aerial view of the stage.

The aerial view of the stage with the screens.

We also plan to have blocks, a piano, and even people act as projection surfaces.

Set pieces we are using to project on.

Set pieces we are using to project on.


We want to play with media, seeing people interact with the projections and using them to further the story.

 

 

A Run for the Designers

by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

For The Servant of Two Masters, the first two weeks back in school have been focused creating the foundation of the show.  Lines have been memorized, characters have started to develop, the overall blocking (movement of the actors) has been set, and the beginning ideas for all the lazzi moments in the show have begun to sprout.  So much creation has been done, that the next step was to do a Designer Run.

A Designer Run is the first moment that the cast performs the show all the way through for the designers.  While still very much in the beginning stages, it gives the designer’s the opportunity to see the world that is being created and to make sure that the ideas that they are developing in their individual shops are still working.  This past weekend, the set, lighting, costume, sound and prop designers all joined with the cast, the director, the assistant directors, the stage manager and myself to watch the cast put the whole show together for the very first time.

It was a good time.

Here were some of my favorite moments:

Our first intro to the characters

Our first intro to the characters

Our lovers are introduced

Our lovers are introduced

Rivalry? Or alliance?

Rivalry? Or alliance?

The servant girls come out to play

The servant girls come out to play

Chaos starts to ensue

Chaos starts to ensue

Things start to heat up

Things start to heat up

And we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what this show is to become!

The Power of Spectacle in BYU’s Phantom

by Nicholas Sheets, dramaturg

As The Phantom of the Opera continues to show strong at BYU I began to reflect a little on the power of the spectacle, due in part to my love for works by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Other musicals by Webber, besides The Phantom of the Opera, are also very popular: Jesus Christ, Superstar; Cats; Starlight Express; Love Never Dies (the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera); Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; and Evita. As the pictures show, there is a lot of eye candy in each of these shows, whether through costumes, musical numbers, scenery, lighting, or even directorial choices. Wherever a Webber musical arises, there are sure to be “wow” moments that send the audience on a roller coaster of fun.

Starlight Express's rollerskating set

Starlight Express’s rollerskating set

 

Love Never Die's Coney Island Spectacle

Love Never Die’s Coney Island Spectacle

 

Cats-the costumes are absolutely incredible

Cats-the costumes are absolutely incredible

Now let’s return to BYU’s production of The Phantom of the Opera and take a closer look at what Tim Threlfall’s directorial decisions are to make this show a spectacle like the one on Broadway. Let’s begin at the beginning. We have combined both the orchestra and sound bytes to help portray the show in a manner that envelopes the audience. This isn’t like Oklahoma, where all the music comes from the microphones and orchestra pit. This show has pre-recorded music, such as frog croaks and Phantom voices. Also, Doug, our student sound designer, has the voices moving across the speakers, so it appears the Phantom is moving as well. This is all to create a more spectacular experience as you view the show.

Also, when the Phantom decides to rain on the Masquerade parade, he enters with a very menacing costume. I was very tempted to add this to my display outside of the DeJong Concert Hall, but I want this costume to be a moment of surprise for those who will attend, and hopefully it was for those who already attended. Deanne DeWitt did an amazing job constructing this costume.

What would this production be without fog and a boat? Well, pretty much nothing according to our standards. So, we have fog and a boat. This is a remote controlled car that navigates among the fog during the iconic Phantom song. Once parked on the side of the stage, it is very easy to take it off stage left. To see an up-close picture of this sequence, go to the HFAC display on the south stairwell.

Our director had some issues to clear up before we could fully present this musical. For instance, how do we make the Phantom disappear during the scenes where he is supposed to drop through a trap door? The answer comes twofold: fog and flying. First, we have used a lot of fog to help eradicate the audience’s view of the Phantom. This also serves as a neat effect that fills the stage with an ominous feeling of obscurity. The flying is a neat addition that helps the Phantom appear as a master magician, as Madame Giry informs us. Many hours of practice have passed so all those who are hung/flown in the musical would do so in a safe manner.

These are only a few ways in which this musical has kept its spectacle at BYU. For those who have already seen this musical at BYU, why don’t you let everyone else know your favorite parts that really stood out to you as a spectacle within the show. This could be costumes, dance routines, lighting, sound, etc. Be careful of spoilers though!

End of Phantom Tech Week

by Nicholas Sheets, dramaturg

The time has come for the actors to rest before opening night. They have gone through an arduous week of tech rehearsals. However, even before the actors began to go live on stage, the production crew gathered together for what is called “paper tech” rehearsal. Paper tech is a rehearsal where the stage manager, lighting designer, stage designer, sound designer, costume designers, and just about every person involved in the technical aspect of the show, gather together and make sure all their notes coincide. Since I wasn’t part of the technical crew I went to see first-hand what goes on in these meetings. While incredibly dry and routine, this is an essential aspect so when everyone arrives in the theater, they are all on the same page. With only a week to rehearse with the technical elements, we needed every minute we could get.

Long nights ensued as the actors, make-up artists, costume designers, stage hands, etc. began to form many entities into a finely tuned instrument. We stopped on many occasions to fix errors and perfect the show. I attended various rehearsals, and I am blown away by all the talent found in this show.

This week we end tech week and begin to open the show. We have prepared for our guests. We have sold out performances. However, rush tickets are still available to students only. Here are a few pictures I snapped during tech week. It’s another sneak-peak into the Phantom of the Opera we have created here at BYU.

Preparing Vocally

Preparing Vocally

Preparing Wigs and Make-up

Preparing Wigs and Make-up

Preparing the Stage and Visual Cues

Preparing the Stage and Visual Cues

Preparing the Lights

Preparing the Lights

Super excited for opening week!

Design and Dramaturgy

by Ariel Mitchell, dramaturg

This past week, our Gone Missing production team has broken into groups: Design and Dramaturgy.

The design team deep in discussion.

The designers will focus on how the show will look, how many screens we need, how we will use lighting, costumes, and projections to tell the stories of loss outlined in Gone Missing and The Cleverest Thief.

Some of the performance writers (Sarah Porter, Ali Kinkade, and Jenna Hawkins) putting a moment on its feet.

Meanwhile the dramaturgy group will be workshopping the moments we have chosen into a text that the actors can memorize and use. Basically what this means is that the four main writers will each take one moment we have chosen home. They will treat it as it’s own play thinking of traditional plot structure (inciting incident, rising action, climax) and write a draft. The next time we meet, they will bring it to class. The actors will read it and we will all give our comments and ask questions. The next night, the writer will take home a new moment (taking into consideration the comments given in class) and the whole process starts over again. We repeat this until we have a polished script that we can present at the end of February.

Design Insights – Holiday Set Design

by Carter Thompson, Set Designer

In one of our first production meetings for Holiday, the director, Barta Heiner brought in an antique quilt that was somewhere around 100 years old. The fabric pieces which were made from wool and cotton fibers were remarkably well preserved, but all the pieces made from silk were brittle or shredded. Silk was sold to wholesalers by weight and in the 1800s silks were often treated with metallic salts (most commonly iron, lead, and tin) to increase their weight, thereby increasing their value. This treatment also improved the drape of the fabric. Over time, however, the metallic salts have eroded and destroyed the silk. Something which once gave the fabric value and beauty has destroyed it. An 1898 article from The New York Times even warns that, “These weighted silks are, however, of so combustible a nature that some have been known to take fire spontaneously…Spontaneous combustion is liable to break out—more especially in black silks.” This is where the concept for the set came from.

Holiday takes place in two rooms of the Edward Seton home. The home is from the Stanford White period (around the turn of the century) and is located on 5th Avenue overlooking Central Park. The action takes place between December 1928 January 1929. The wealthy Seton family—and the U.S. economy generally—has been weakened by excessive wealth. Grandfather Seton was a self-made man who went from nothing to become one of the most prominent financiers in New York. In the 1800s he amassed a great fortune which gave his family strength and power, but in 1929 that wealth is destroying his grandchildren as they race towards alcoholism and vanity.

The set is comprised of two rooms, a drawing room and a nursery room. The drawing room reflects some of the excesses of the family wealth, and it is a room which is splitting at the seams, like the antique quilt. The walls are treated with a segmented trellis wallpaper pattern which disappears into blackness. The corners of the walls do not meet as the room stretches upward. Their world is being pulled apart.

This room is guarded by an austere portrait of Grandfather Seton, the man whose wealth has led his family to the brink of moral collapse. The nursery room represents a return to virtue. The room was carefully prepared by their late mother and now serves as a sanctuary from the rest of the home. The style of the room is taken from the Art Nouveau period. It is soft and bright and gentle.

For the basic architecture of the home I drew inspiration from the Isaac D. Fletcher mansion, built in 1898, which is one of the few mansions still standing on 5th Avenue. The home was occupied by several millionaires in the first half of the 20th Century before becoming the Ukrainian Institute of America. Its longest occupants were Augustus and Anne van Horne Stuyvesant, an unmarried brother and sister who lived in reclusion, thus preserving the house in a beautifully unaltered state up to the present day.

What I have tried to capture in Holiday is a world of wealth, family, and changing relationships where some characters are really trying to find themselves in a world that is about to fall apart.

Set Design Model–Drawing room

Set Design Model – Nursery

He’s Here….at BYU!

Image

by Nicholas Sheets, dramaturg

I just want to say hello to everyone who is taking their time to visit the 4th WALL and to hear about news concerning our upcoming production of The Phantom of the Opera. Expect to see many sneak-peaks into our production at this website. Each week you’ll get a neat insight into the creation of the University Premiere of The Phantom of the Opera in the U.S.A. I hope you’re as excited as I am for this production!

To start out with, I’m going to give you all a preview of our working scenic design for our stage. This design is from the hard work of Benjamin Sanders, the Director of Dance Productions at BYU. This is a working design, so it may change to a certain degree between now and production. Enjoy!

Courtesy of Set Designer Benjamin Sanders