Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pillow Posts -- 7/10/07

One of the things I love about theatre is the quirky things you are sometimes required to do; today's quirky activity started when the Royal Danish Ballet showed up and immediately asked us to procure a tree stump.

Yes, a tree stump. One of their shows is a pastoral piece about a guy dancing with pixies in the forest (kind of like Belladonna, except without him getting eaten at the end), and so in order to give a sense of the setting, they decided to put a tree stump on stage. Preparing that seemingly-simple piece of scenery actually required a lot of work.

First, we had to find a tree stump. A couple Operations interns went out to the bonfire wood pile and found a nice big one. Once they gave it to us, we first prepped it by cutting off a loose bit of wood on the bottom. Next, we covered the bottom with a felt-like fabric called duvetine so that the wood wouldn't scratch the marley floor. We cut the duvetine so that it approximately matched the contours of the wood, and then stapled it to the sides of the stump (not the bottom of the stump, or the staples would scratch, and not too high on the sides because we don't want the duvetine to be very visible). Next, we wrote on the staples with black Sharpie so that they would be black and not stand out against the duvetine, and finally, we brushed down the entire stump to get as many loose bits of bark and sawdust off before we took it on stage.

We had to talk to the dancers to find the appropriate position and orientation of the stump, and then we had to put spike tape on the floor and on the stump so that we can put it back into the same position every night. Once the stump was spiked, we carted it off stage right. During the show, at the appropriate time, Jason will wheel it onto the stage on a dolly. I will assist him in putting it onto the stage from the dolly, and I will bring with me a dustpan and a brush to sweep up any bits that fall off in the process of lifting the stump. Once we have the stump set, I will sweep up the loose bits of wood and store the dolly with me stage left. When we strike the stump after it has been used, Jason and I will put the stump back onto the dolly, and then Jason will cart it back to stage right, while I sweep up any more wood bits that have landed on the floor.

As you can see, a fair amount of thought goes into simply putting a tree stump on a dance stage, so if you ever see one, you'll know some of the things that had to be done to get it there.

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