Saturday, February 4, 2012

New! not

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One Year Done

So, it's been a while since I've revisited this blog. I guess grad school will do that to you!

I've finished year one of my MFA, and it was incredibly busy, incredibly difficult, and incredibly fun all at the same time. The fun I owe to my classmates and colleagues, who are some of the raddest people ever. The difficulty- well, going back to school after five or six years off isn't the easiest thing in the world. Also, some classes are just really demanding. But I feel I've learned a lot (and still have a loooong way to go). I'm moving to a new house in New Haven for next semester, and it's a bit closer to campus and a bit further from the halfway house and pawn shop, which is nice.

Spring semester, I greatly enjoyed my rigging class. I had been trained in rigging by a variety of TDs and electricians who just happened to be around wherever I was working, and I knew based on differing opinions and practices that there was a lot of misinformation out there. I always wondered about the systems in some of the theaters I worked in. Now I may not have everything memorized, but I do know where to turn for information, and I feel that anything I rig is going to be as safe as I can make it. And I can also analyze a pre-existing system for flaws fairly accurately.

Structures got easier second semester, perhaps just because I got into a groove and had less of a struggle finding time for the homework. But also because I knew more about what to expect on tests. I genuinely enjoy doing structures, even if it is a pain in the ass. Learning it has made me feel somewhat accomplished.

I ATD'ed a show in the spring, and that was a really great experience compared to my other production assignments. And somehow less stressful. Working with the staff carpenters was really cool- they are all very helpful, and very funny. I think my drafting improved greatly on that show, and I started to understand what it's like not to be so hands-on (like when you have a union crew). Not sure I like being hands-off, but I'm understanding it better at least.

This summer, it was quite difficult for a lot of my classmates to find summer work, and I was no exception. I think in my case, it's just because I wasn't willing to do summer stock again. I managed to find a partial-summer internship with an events production company, which had me working on all manner of crazy things. And now I'm freelancing for the rest of my time in NYC until school starts back up.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holy hell, batman!

So here I am, at 5am the last day of first semester here at YSD.

I survived- barely. I had a great time, made lots of friends, and nearly had a mental breakdown during finals week.

So here's what's awesome:

-My classmates. It's gonna sound cheesy, but I fucking LOVE my classmates, and they are amazing people, and we have all gone through what feels like an epic battle together. The people here are generally incredible and awe-inspiring. So that's rad.

-Structural Design for the Stage. This class, though I might be failing it (we'll see), is pretty effing amazing, and taught with gusto. I had not taken a math class in ten years prior to this, and I'm still able to follow it for the most part. Not because its easy, but because it's just so well-taught.

-The Rep. Yale Repertory Theatre is one of the coolest buildings I've ever worked in. Not because there aren't dangerous beams at nose height in the grid, but because when you're in the grid, you are surrounded by all this crazy church architecture. Pretty sweet.

-I've probably learned more in one semester here than I did in all of undergrad. It's intense, but I feel like I'm getting a lot out of it, which is great. I came in never having opened AutoCAD, and have now drafted nearly an entire set. It may not be *great* drafting, but I'm doing it. I can tell you how much a 5/4 pine stick of any width can safely span with almost any variety of loading condition. I can accurately mill steel to a thousandth of an inch (well, on a good day).

Here's what's been difficult:

-Not having time to cook a single meal for myself all semester.

-Spending too much money on fast-food type places because I have no time to cook.

-Pulling two to three all-nighters a week and still not getting caught up.

-Production assignment during finals week.

-Not being able to leave New Haven, even for half a day, ever.

-Chicken pillow.

Monday, May 31, 2010

My email to Selecon

I’ve been working at a theater with Selecon fixtures for the past few years, and I’m writing to offer some criticism and suggestions.


We have Selecon Pacific zooms and 7” Rama fresnels.

The zooms have a great output and a great cooling system, but are unwieldy and tend to fall apart. The red or blue plastic pieces on the endcaps tend to be mistaken for handles by people used to working with Source Fours and Altmans, and are often picked up by these non-handles and broken, resulting in a lot of not-so-safe black-tacked endcaps in the grid. The end caps are also difficult to seat correctly for someone not accustomed to them (and most technicians in NYC are not accustomed to them). The gel clips are unnecessarily difficult, and the shutters fall out and will not go back in. Most of our zooms have only 3 shutters at this point. Granted, they are about 10 years old, but we have 30-year-old Altmans that are easier to repair. The focus knobs on the side get really tight sometimes and can cause hand injuries when they are finally loosened. I think this is due to the shape, where one side is longer than the other.

Our Rama fresnels are new as of last summer, and already metal pieces are falling off of them (usually breaking off of the dials) without provocation. We don’t use the safety cables that came attached, because they are quicklink and not carabiner, which is simply annoying. The “quick-focus” attachments for these units are sitting in boxes collecting dust somewhere, because they were too difficult to attach, and made little sense when the rest of our units have traditional c-clamps and require wrenches anyway. Good idea in theory, but they just weren’t worth taking the time to figure out. If they had come pre-assembled, we may have been able to use them. Again, these have great output, but the only 1k lamps that work in them die after only 250 hours. We will be switching to 750w next season to save money, but it will be disappointing to have a system that is not as bright.

Nobody I know enjoys working with these units, and I think if you made changes to address these issues, you may find more buyers in the states. I know this is easier said than done, but I wanted to put in my two cents.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010



In the world of theater, things are generally scheduled tightly, due to budget constraints, time constraints, etc.

In the world of music, most gigs are quick, painless, and fun.

They don't sound so different, these two worlds. Yet- musicians expect to show up for a gig maybe half an hour prior (at the most), make sure the mics are working, and then play a show.

Theater technicians, however, expect to see musicians hours before a show, to check and re-check and re-check the re-checks of everything. And to program some light cues. Because running a show live off of an Express board with Altmans and Selecons just plain sucks.

Musicians- when you have a gig at a real theater, please show up on time. Technicians, when you have rock musicians coming in- expect them at least two hours late. If we all just think this way, then maybe something will meet halfway, somewhere. Yes?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tech-Related News

Shure no longer repairs its old wireless mics, even though they CAN operate at an FCC-approved range. They also, oddly, backed the legislation (more money for them? New wireless mics with receivers can be $4,000 each.

There will be a Costume Symposium at NC School of the Arts in August (which, by the way, consistently cranks out some really talented technicians and designers). The focus of the event will be wig making and styling.

In the realm of awesome-looking European things that we will never have stateside, Frankfurt just hosted an event called "Luminale", with over 150 lighting installations, with a focus on eco-friendly low-energy lighting.

The ETCP technical certification exams will take place in June in Las Vegas. Register by May 7th, or wait till LDI in October. In related news, why the eff don't these conventions EVER come to NYC, which is pretty much the birthplace of American theatre?

At USITT this year, there was a special 50th anniversary exhibition on the history of lighting consoles.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Grad School

In the Fall, I will be embarking on a new adventure: grad school.

I will be sad to leave NYC and to leave my full-time, kick-ass job with really great co-workers, but I am excited to begin the learning process all over again at Yale Drama, where I have been accepted into the Technical Design and Production department. I'll be focusing on technical direction, and learning all sorts of crazy awesome things from professors like John Huntington, Don Harvey, and Ben Sammler.

It's been a long time since I've been in classes, and I've never had the luxury of JUST going to school- I had a full-time job nearly the entire time I was in undergrad- so I'm looking forward to focusing on my training for the next 3 years.

The things I'm most excited for are the stage machinery/rigging and projection design courses. They all look really bad-ass. I'm also hoping to sneak my way into some playwriting stuff during my time there as well, as I am really into the creation of a production as a whole...and the fusion of production with playmaking, as seen in Big Art Group, Superamas, The Wooster Group, Radiohole, etc...
I'm also happy that I'll get a chance to learn more about sound design, as I am terrible at EQing and such...

I'm hoping to keep up this blog while I am at Yale- I'll have to check with the department to see how much information is okay to post-

It appears as though the work I'll be doing will be a lot safer and more regulated than what I am accustomed to- which is a welcome relief. Hard hats, harnesses, goggles, etc. I'm down with all of that in my old age.

But I will say- if you haven't checked out Yale, do. They have an amazing program, and their financial aid is effing incredible. Seriously.

And, to de-mystify the process of applying and interviewing for grad school in production- if anyone out there is reading and like me, could use the advice of someone who's been there: of course be prepared, be on time, etc. etc. But also- show them your personality, be honest, be as confident as you possibly can be. Honestly, I was a stuttering wreck through my whole interview with the dean. But apparently something I did worked.


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About Me

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New York, New York, United States
Tired. Caffeinated. Quietly evil.

I'm a theatre technician, living and working in NYC. Also an aspiring costumer, makeup artist, playwright and dilettante.
I like to rant about things, I swear like a person who swears a lot, and I work too much. Other than that, my time is spent at home with the puppy or in Chelsea bars with friends and co-workers.