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Getting My Hands Dirty Again

December 3, 2012

Since autumn began, I haven’t done much theatre. It sounds more tragic than what it actually is: I’m getting my minor almost finished with. My B.A. Theatre major requires me to take on a minor and this semester, I’m really working on that minor in Creative Writing. I’m writing poetry, fiction, scripts…and with all the writing required, I haven’t had time to do any extra shows. Except the one I’m required to fulfill for the semester by the theatre department—Load-In/Wardrobe Crew for The Piano Lesson.

On your first day of school here in our department, we put half the freshmen down in the Scene Shop and half upstairs in the Costume Shop: we’re teaching them what tools we use, how we put the shows together behind the scenes. Last year, I was working as an Assistant Stage Manager, so this is my first time back building sets and handling costumes since freshman year. When I first came here, I underestimated myself and thought that  there was no way I could handle these big machines and those whirling tools. I was afraid I would lose a finger and get my hair caught. It took freshman-me a while to learn how capable I really am and that was the first thing I had to remind myself of when I started again this semester: that I am capable and that I’m the one who should be keeping an eye on the freshmen, teaching them how to wet-blend the paint.

It’s been awhile since I was in the Shop but it’s nice to get my hands dirty again. I’m handling pneumatic staplers, drills, sorting through steel, using chalk-lines and tape measures, pliers, supporting ladders, carrying platforms down flights of stairs to the theatre, and painting. LOTS of painting. All the floor and stairs had to have:

  1. a base coat
  2. wet-blended
  3. washed
  4. grained
  5. and sealed.

As one of my freshmen painters said “we’re painting wood…to look like wood”. It sounds absurd, painting five layers of paint to create the effect of wooden floors but the end result looks terrific. I’d definitely recommend that everyone should have at least three sets of clothes and a pair of shoes that are tough, sturdy and can get dirty–I’ve ruined a good pair of dance pants the one day I forgot to change my clothes.

So that’s what I’m up to right now. I’m up to my neck in laundry because of all the paint on my clothes and my hands are covered in a mixture of paint and ink stains from my writing classes. I’ve deliberately not auditioned for shows because I’m just too busy: between writing, learning stage combat and focusing on The Piano Lesson, it’s been crazy. But at least the show is looking good. I can’t wait to see how good the actors will be once we put them in the costumes and onstage.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 3, 2012 12:31 pm

    Even though you aren’t doing as much theatre, it sounds to me like you are still doing theatre. Tech work is a valuable experience to gain since it gives you the knowledge of the back bone of theatre (plus, anything that helps contribute to being a well-rounded theatre artist is a helpful experience). 🙂

  2. The Growing Artist permalink
    December 3, 2012 1:53 pm

    That’s awesome that you are involved “behind the scenes” of that show. I would like to have more experience in tech work. I agree with The Crazy Theatre Artist- it does help to make you a more well-rounded theater artist!

  3. December 4, 2012 11:09 am

    Agree with the other ladies! I’m grateful for (most of) the backstage work I learned to do in college. It’s useful later, even if only to make you appreciate everyone else on the team!

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