Category Archives: crew

Volunteering at DreamWrights: It’s Contagious

Volunteering at DreamWrights is contagiously fun. Take Tony Fogle, for example. One night, he was bored so he agreed to lend a hand striking a show in which his aunt had been involved. Three and a half years and 26 shows later, Tony is a pillar of the DreamWrights family, as the “go-to” Lighting Designer. “I came to help with strike one night because I had nothing else to do. A bunch of people asked if I was trying out for next show but theatre really isn’t my thing. But sure, I’ll come help with something backstage,” Tony explained.

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Tony did return, thinking that he would be able to participate behind the scenes, where he would be more comfortable. “They threw me onstage as Little John in Robin Hood,” Tony winces. “That was a little overwhelming for me.” He describes it as tough but fun. Admittedly, he did enjoy it but he did not look forward to getting back on stage.

“The people here were awesome.” They kept him coming back. The next show was Gentleman from Indiana and Tony did props for that show. At that time, a talented college student was doing lights. Tony was impressed with him. It probably was due to Tony’s height (he’s 6 feet 6 inches tall) that he was asked to lend a hand. “I helped him out. As he was adjusting the lights, he started explaining to me what he was doing. Before he left, he gave me a quick run through of how the lighting system worked. Two shows later I was doing lights and I’ve done just about every one since.”

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Not originally educated for his technical career at a micro electronics company or in lighting, technical is where Tony’s interests lie. He says the best part of being the Lighting Designer is that it keeps him off stage. “If it weren’t lights, it would be props or set. I’m not a big social person.” He likes that everyone greets him on his way in but he quickly finds his place in the shadows, where he’s comfortable behind the control panel. He says he likes how all the jobs are connected. “I’m here doing my own thing but I’m part of the bigger picture. I like having my own little piece of the larger puzzle.”

When asked what his secret to making the actors on stage look so good, Tony responds, “Make sure you can see them all. If somebody is in the dark, it is glaringly obvious to me. If there is part of the set that the lighting isn’t nice on, I notice. When I’m doing it I try to hit everything and make it look nice.”  His best advice is to simply make sure everyone is lit.

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Tony considers Seussical to be his toughest show to light. “I stressed a lot about it but Seussical was my favorite because it was more of a challenge. It pushed me to learn things [about programming lights] that I didn’t know previously.” He anticipates The Wizard of Oz to be equally challenging. He says an option could be to go with “plain Jane” lights.  Tony explains, “Just like Suessical and some of the other shows I’ve been involved with, I feel lights can make a big difference in how the audience connects with the show. I have to make sure I compliment, and hopefully add to, the mood of the show.”

When Tony counted up the number of shows in which he’s been involved, he surprised himself. “This is show number 26 I’ve been involved with… which is ridiculous! But it is fun so I keep coming back. And they keep asking me to.”

 

Tech Stuff is for Girls!

Catie D.
Catie

DreamWrights’ Technical Director, Bob (T. Builder) McCleary can often be overheard singing the praises of his tech teams. Recently, he has been particularly impressed by two girls – the Dinnneen sisters. Catie and Hannah Dineen have three brothers (Tom, 13; Scot, 15; Sean, 18) but it is the girls in this family that have made the largest impression on Bob.

Catie and Hannah got involved in theater when they were 8 and 4 respectively. Not long after, they started doing tech work with Bob. They enjoyed being at the theater, so whenever they were not cast in a show, they got involved working on the crew.

Catie reveals, “It’s cool to be behind the scenes because not everyone gets that opportunity.” Hannah chimes in, “It’s been fun learning all the different jobs at the theater.”

Bob believes it is the girls’ attitudes that make them so good. Bob explains that these girls “try hard and do a good job.  They will take a shot at anything I ask.”

Hannah D.
Hannah

Catie is an 11th grade homeschooler.  She has been involved in the homeschool shows, the summer shows, worked on planning and organizing the Teen Ball, and most currently you might’ve seen her in  Flippin’ Broadway. This 16 year old has participated in casts, stage crew, lights, spot light, costumes, set building, and a variety of other odd jobs.

Hannah is 11 years old and in the 6th grade. She is involved with the homeschool shows, stage crew, lights, sound, projector, props, set building and anything Bob tells her to do.

If you happen to see these girls with a drill in their hand or climbing up a ladder, pay attention! You might just learn a thing or two!

Top 10 Things Most Often Heard Backstage

1. Can you get my ________ ?
This is mostly heard during tech rehearsals when we’re all trying to figure out the important stuff, like timing and how the show runs. But at one point or another, there’s something you’ll leave in the dressing room or green room.

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2. Put that back!!!
If you are part of the props crew you say this a lot. If you are backstage you hear it a lot. In fact, there are signs saying not to touch stuff! (They don’t always work.)

3. SSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
Even though it sounds like a geyser is going off back stage, this is used a lot. With kids, teens, young adults, and older adults not everyone knows the appropriate level of volume.

4. You need to move!
This also is heard mostly during tech rehearsals. People don’t always know where set pieces live backstage or realize that the costume that person is wearing will end up on that chair your sitting on in about 3 seconds.

5. You can’t sit there.
You might say this is a repeat because you have to tell different people that they can’t sit there every show.

6. Will you help me change?
Also heard during tech rehearsals when the actors are realizing how little time they actually have to switch from a fish to a Whoville character, for example. If you have a buddy to help get the zipper up or the hair in that wig cap, it make those changes go a lot faster.

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7.  I found this.
As a veteran crew member, I have been given all kinds of found treasures including staples, tape, bobby pins, safety pins, plastic things, birthday candles, batteries, parts of costumes, parts of props, and parts of the set! The fun of theatre!

8. What is this?
Even though this prop has been sitting on the props table for six weeks, it never fails that during the most quiet scene in the show, you hear someone ask someone to explain what it is.

9. Where’s the director?
Everyone always has questions for the director. But for some reason, the middle of show is the best time to ask.

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10. It’s dark.
Yes, back stage is dark. Thanks for letting me, the whole cast, and the audience know!

Jacob Schlenker
Student
and Veteran DreamWrights Crew Volunteer

 

 

Unique Alley Staging Features The Secret Garden

20160208 The Secret Garden Alley Configuration (5)
DreamWrights Theatre in Alley Configuration

Artistic Director, Diane Crews, knew that the biggest challenge in mounting DreamWrights’ next play, The Secret Garden, would be the number of scenes and locations needed. So, instead of the traditional proscenium seating configuration, Crews and her crew felt that this production would lend itself best to an alley configuration, a form of theatrical staging in which the stage is surrounded on two sides by the audience.  Crews explains, “Alley staging will allow for the action to take place on both ends [of the alley] and up and down and in the middle of the audience. There will be five different acting areas including a home in India, the interior of the Manor in England, the Manor’s front garden, outside of the British home, the village, the moor, and of course the secret garden.”

20160208 The Secret Garden Alley Configuration (9)
DreamWrights Theatre in Alley Configuration

Crews is excited. “It’s a wonderful format that lets the audience use their imaginations right along with the actors.  We can all see the wall around the garden, and at the same time be able to see right through it.” But, when Crews first pitched the alley staging idea to Guest Set Designer, Allen Brenner, he wasn’t sold. Brenner explains, “Alley staging presents several challenges. One is the sightline. With the set in this configuration, I have to try to do as much dimensional stuff as possible and it has to be low profile.” Even the blocking can be a challenge, he says. “You have to consider what audiences can see, what you want them to see, then make sure that they can actually see it.”

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Brenner’s scale model

But after some consideration and in brainstorming with Crews, Brenner agreed that with all of the different and faraway scenes in the play, alley is a great option. “Alley provides separate locals for the audience so it gives the feel of different places.” For example, Brenner reveals that on one end of the alley will be the scene of the English manor and the other end of the alley will be scenes in India.  “Alley staging gives me a lot of territory to work with. It makes it a lot of fun.” Brenner also points out that it will require the audience to participate more in the action, as they will feel the movement from one end of the corridor to the other and in between.

20160127 Allen Brenner Alley Configuration (23)
Guest Set Designer, Allen Brenner

DreamWrights is pleased to have the talents of Guest Set Designer, Allen Brenner, for this production. Brenner’s design hasn’t appeared at DreamWrights since The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 2010, and it will beautifully transform the audience to faraway lands including the fascinating secret garden. According to Brenner, alley staging is less common than the traditional proscenium. It has rarely been done before at DreamWrights, and as far as he knows, possibly never elsewhere in York.You can count on The Secret Garden to be a unique experience. Call it an adventure, one that will take you from India to England to a secret garden. You won’t want to miss it.

Top 10 Life Lessons You Learn As A Theatre Tech

1. Black is always chic. Although, I once dressed as a monk while a stagehand at DC’s Arena Stage.

2015-07 Bob McCleary

2. Patience is a virtue.  And waiting is an art.
3. Be clear when communicating with others.

In theater:
In is down, down is front
Out is up, up is back
Off is out, on is in
And of course,
Left is right and right is left

4. Treat everyone with respect, especially those lending a helping hand.
5. Always get a good night’s rest. There is nothing worse than waking up in the middle of a scene change and wondering, “Am I putting this on stage or taking it off!?”
6. Organization is the key to success.
7. Expect the unexpected.
8. Silence is Golden. The audience pays to hear the actors ON stage, not the gossip BACK stage!
9. You must be able to keep cool under pressure.
10. You are never alone…except maybe for one-man shows.  But this is ALWAYS true at DreamWrights.

Bob “T. Builder” McCleary
Technical Director, DreamWrights

Top 10 Things DreamWrights Techies Cannot Get Enough Of

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Tape – Masking tape, glow tape, scotch tape, double-sided tape, electric tape, spike tape, mic tape (surgical tape), hem tape, pretty silver tape, magnetic tape, police tape, Velcro® tape, friction tape, tape measures, and gaff tape (a fancy duct tape that holds most theaters together)

Help – As in, “I’ll help!” or the more common, “Help me!”

Anonymity – Why else would we dress in black and hang out BEHIND the set?

Teamwork – “Can’t get that screw in?  Get another person in there pushing on the drill!”

Learning & Experience – “Angle the drill upwards with a downhill ‘fermature’…. Just keep trying.  You’ll get it.”

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Imagination – “We need to find a (cheap) way to:  flood the stage, blow up the world, etc.”  Just another day at DreamWrights.

Drills – “Bob, I would be working but we’re out of drills.”

Pins – Safety and bobby

FOOD – But this might just be a York thing. (Or “Bob, Is it snack time yet?”)

YOU! – We miss you when you are not here!  And bring a friend!

Bob “T. Builder” McCleary
Technical Director, DreamWrights

Creating New Active Work Space

Thank you to all the volunteers who have helped with our ongoing project to turn storage space (estimated to be 50-75% of our current square footage) into active work space for our volunteers and programs.

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Our new shop space will allow storage of tools nearer the stage and easier access to  several power saws, allowing for quicker adjustments to lumber lengths. This was made possible by several recent donations of tools, allowing us to stock two shops.  The basement shop will still remain the focus of set construction when there is another show on stage. But now all of our carpenters will grow fat because they no longer have to run into the basement every time they need to make a cut. The largest new  item is a radial arm saw given by Dave H. Thank you!

Other projects include the ongoing organization and cleaning of the basement by persons unknown.  And a few known (kids from the past several shows) who are taking apart unneeded items to reuse the materials on future sets and free up space for construction and painting.

On the third floor Jacob S. and Corinthia K. with a little help from Amber S. and Paige G. are organizing, cleaning, labeling, mapping and prioritizing props.  Sending numerous items to the basement for disassembly and reuse.

Thanks to all of our wonderful volunteers!

Bob T. Builder
Technical Director