Friday, December 7, 2012


photo source: American Rep facebook page
Pippin is going to Broadway! How exciting! No, I am not going with it. It was awesome to see the show here in Cambridge though, and the many scenic elements I worked on put to use! 

Saturday, December 1, 2012


This month is going to be a good one, I can tell! I have work lined up with the Huntington Theater Co, with Moonbox Productions, and the Central Square Theater, taking me straight into January. Hopefully I will have more time to get out and about around Boston with friends more; moving in and working full time has been pretty overwhelming. Now I am getting used to public transportation and settling into my new apartment. There was some confusion over my lease and security deposit and such, but I will be getting paperwork tomorrow, which makes me feel better.

The first day of December started off with snow! An excellent way to kick off the holidays-- though I expect we will all be tired of it soon enough. This first week is going to be a little nuts; I am splitting my time between working with the Hunt on Our Town and possibly Invisible Man, and doing some electrics work for my good friend Jeff Salzberg on Of Mice and Men with Moonbox Productions. Luckily enough, both Our Town and Mice & Men are at the Boston Center for the Arts, meaning I will be able to walk a few hundred feet from one gig to the next.

More updates to come! Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Day in the Life

I looked up 30-day blog challenges for inspiration to write more. While a lot of them feature very personal questions and things I would rather cover in a personal journal, there were a few interesting ones. One suggested post was "Your day, in detailed bullet points." Since every day is a crazy adventure in my life, I thought this might be fun. Let's see how much I remember.

-5:45am first alarm went off
-6am second alarm went off, I got up, dressed, gathered lunch that I packed last night, headed out
-6:36am caught the bus for Sullivan station, the orange T line from there to Back Bay
-7am walked to the BCA Calderwood Pavilion, where I am working for the Huntington Theater Company. There is another show loading in across the hall, covered in swarms of Boston University students, and other companies and such in the building, so it's a little chaotic at times. 
-Waited in our break room and ate breakfast
-7:30am we started working on laying the deck for Our Town, a bunch of 4'x8' sheets of crappy lauan painted to look like golden-brown wood flooring.
-Unloaded a truck of flame retardant-ed trees, boxes of paint stuff, doors/frames, windows
-Worked on assembling a curtain track/its attachment to the front of the set under the supervision of Jesse, a staff member at the Hunt. It's basically a curtain which will hide the kitchen we've been working on until the "reveal" moment, and it slides open and closed.
-10 (ish)am break. Went to the 7-11 for an energy drink and a chocolate bar (saved the candy for the afternoon break, which always means I'll finish the day strong). Worked on my crossword puzzle.
-10:15am Worked on actually attaching the curtain track to the set. It goes on the front of the ceiling of the kitchen with mega bolts, which took a lot of drilling and lining up and lifting the damn thing between several ladders, several times.
-(During all of this, other people worked on laying the flooring more, electricians were working on scaffolding across the stage, the Master Carpenter installed doors and windows, and a few other overhire carpenters worked on various molding projects)
-11am started attaching panels to the black, non-kitchen parts of the set. They have bolt heads to make them look like the theater's normal architecture, as per design with this show.
-12noon lunch! I don't mess around these days when it comes to lunch. Meat and cheese packed sandwiches, granola bars, cookies, yogurt, fruit, chips...hung out in the break room and worked on my crosswords more, enjoyed talking with my coworkers.
-12:45pm back to work: more of the "bolted" panels, to be leveled and screwed in from the back of the set.
-Also worked on crown molding for inside the kitchen (a very cramped space at this point; ceilings are an interesting choice onstage) and fake foam beams for the kitchen ceiling. We think these beams were painted with cow shit, they smelled so bad. Needless to say that job was done as fast as possible.
-Washed hands.
-Unpacked soft goods (curtains, usually) from RoseBrand...sold to us by my very good friend Peter Monahan, who is a sales rep there and a mentor of mine! It was awesome seeing his name on stuff I'm working on. We got a white muslin drape of some sort and a 9'x24' black velour curtain, which I worked on getting up into the track we hung earlier. We need to work on the attachments for this curtain: the higher-ups like the nasty noise of metal carriers for each point of the curtain, but they don't fit properly in the track we have, so the curtain doesn't open smoothly. We looked at plastic vs. metal carriers and have yet to try out the latest decided upon ones.
-I built a block of several 2x4s and some smaller pieces to fit behind the curtain track facing, which would cover one end of the track so the curtain can't be pulled right off the track. Someone else did the other side-- they are custom fit plugs for each side of the track, and mine is not yet installed so that we can still pull the curtain off and try those different carriers in the track.
-3:55pm unloaded custom flooring pieces from the van.
-4pm break. Chocolate bar and crossword puzzle. I feel like picking up the free Metro every day on the T will be a win for my crossword habits.
-4:15pm back to work, with fewer people now: some of our overhire are also crew for the evening shows and they need travel and dinner time. We finished the "bolted" panel pieces, worked on installing fake I beams on the very top of the set (continuing the theater's normal architecture). This took longer than expected, partially due to cutting bevels in the corners of these I-shaped pieces (interesting time getting them on the small chopsaw we share with the BU students loading in a door away) and partially because my partner is a slower worker. That is often my biggest challenge these days: not letting work partners hold me back from doing my best.
-5:40pm clean up. We organized our extra materials and things to still be installed-- very few at this point-- and got our tools and such out of the way for electrics. We also piled the trees out of the hallway of the building and shuffled some carts around.
-6pm Gathered up my things, filled out my time sheet, and left on foot for Back Bay station. I spent my public transit time today listening to music and texting my friend Meg from the summer, who is in Florida working at Orlando Rep. I am already comfortable with my route to the Hunt and the Pavilion, having worked for this company just a few days. I think people find me an interesting sight to see: bandana and work clothes and my tool bag and Joker bag (sorry Mom) but I'm also used to people being taken aback by what I do for a living so it's easy to ignore.
-6:40pm gave up my seat on the bus for an elderly woman. My stop was coming up anyway. (karma points?)
-7pm At my apartment and looking at emails, scheduling work into January at this point, which is awesome! Also planning for December: working with the Hunt and more, I want to see Our Town, see the Memphis tour when it comes through since I will probably get a backstage tour, visit home for my Grandma's birthday and Christmas, and to visit with my friend Meg when she comes up for the holidays.

Busy times!!

And's time to shower and eat dinner :) It might be a Netflix night of Dr. Who and/or Battlestar Galactica. My oldest brother will be proud.

Thank you for reading! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Tool Kit in the Theater

I started work at the Huntington theater yesterday, where I'll be working for a lot of this upcoming month. It is already a very different experience than my time at the American Rep: with a small scene shop located downtown, at the theater shared with Boston University students, the Hunt's shop is small and chaotic, but fairly efficient. They build for their own mainstage shows as well as various contracted works, and share the shop with students. We have started off the week by loading in Our Town at the black box space at Calderwood Pavilion.
A fully decked and roofed be seen briefly during the final scene of the show. Such is life in the theater.
One big change for me coming to work at the Hunt was a lack of available hand tools in the shop. Staff and overhire are told to bring their own tools in many places, especially IATSE (union) work calls, but other than the very basics (leatherman/multi tool, C wrench for electrics, gloves, tape measure) I haven't had the need to pack more of my tools. And I usually try not to, if a shop has the tools, because then mine will last longer and have less risk of disappearing. On calls for small shows, or say, when I helped my music teacher brother build sets for his elementary school's musical, I will haul my tools out of my car and use them more.

I know staff members at shops prefer their own tools often; and Tech Directors for smaller shops have their tools on hand often because they own more than the theater does, often, but I haven't been working in positions like that yet. (So this is possibly me moving up in the world? Or at least getting ready to!) I am more used to having my stage management kit (filled with anything one and one's actors could possibly need during rehearsal: pencils, sharpener, cough drops, tissues, first aid stuff, sticky notes, tape, etc...) wherever I go, so this is like a different version of that, I guess.

I have a pretty decent setup as far as tools go. For my sweet 16, my dad bought me a Ryobi battery-operated kit with a tiny circ saw, a drill, some bits. I've accumulated more, like hand screwdrivers and racheting screwdrivers, pliers, tape measure, random theater stuff like gobos and gel color booklets, and a little level, since then. Dad and I connect well over tools and mechanic stuff, so he usually gets me something fun for my birthday or Christmas, which is amazing :) Most recently, it was a head lamp, which is awesome for in the theater because no matter whether you are a carpenter or an electrician, the lights will go out at some point, or you will have to navigate and work behind scenery that blocks work lights, or crawl through some dark space to fix a connection or stabilize a platform leg. Painters often use them for the same reason; it's a steady, consistent light.

So tonight I pulled together my essentials to bring in tomorrow. I have a few tools that are red handled, so I gathered those and will keep the rest separate. I have phillips head and flat headed hand screwdrivers, a small level, a tape measure, a small hammer, a decent drill bit set, gloves, my leatherman and small maglite, a matte knife, and a few electrician's tools just in case: a multimeter, C wrench, and speed wrench. And my head lamp! I wish I could take my larger bit set in; it has drill bits, various screw head bits, a racheting wrench, and more...but the case is too large for my smaller tool bag and I don't want to deal with my larger bag with public transportation. My Ryobi drill is sadly outdated; it works well for home projects but wouldn't stand up to the Makita impact drivers a lot of shops have today, so I don't need to worry about bringing it in.

  Thanks for reading! Hopefully this wasn't too boring of a post...for many people I know this is standard stuff, but many of my readers also find day to day practices in this lifestyle quite different and interesting, so I figured I'd share something that is somewhat new for me.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pippin Load In

From the ART Website: This is the poster image for Pippin.
For the past two weeks, work at the ART has been loading in Pippin, the big show we've been working on for over a month. Pippin is a musical that the American Rep is setting in a giant, extravagant circus setting. Load-in has included boxing hardware to send to the theater, loading trucks, shipping people over, unwrapping things from shops in New York and some beautiful stuff from Vietnam, unloading stuff, laying platforms, laying decking (the specially painted stage floor), adding the pit extension that literally extends the stage over the orchestra's head, preparing the orchestra pit with platforms and safety nets, installing a false proscenium, hanging our 2 sets of curved truss (you can see some of it below) which now stretch the "tent" fabric between them, and more and more. There is another portal behind the proscenium, a pipe with hoops and decorative chains and pennants, and then of course my "Magic To Do" light bulb effect, hung directly upstage of the proscenium.

Part of the "chute" or circus tent was up at this point. My little phone camera can't capture the sheer size of this show!
 There were a lot of challenges and details to be attended to during this load in. It seemed like we were super prepared with hardware bags for each piece and bolts carefully counted out, but in reality things got disorganized and lost quickly. We had to stay organized and out of other departments' way at times. Safety was huge; with very heavy pieces being suspended overhead, we often wore hard hats. Getting the curved truss at the right angle and height took a while; installing the false pro and the portal were team challenges; my light bulb setup was a disaster with so many cables and wires flying in a small space. It was originally designed so that each of 22 bulbs could fly separately in and out, but with a clew plate added near the end to have the pieces all flown together, most of the pieces could have been replaced with just a pipe that the bulbs would have hung off of, set at their different heights. I'm not sure why this happened, or if all the problems can even be resolved, but the last time I worked on them we resolved much of the tangling of the wire ropes and were just left with the twisting of the electrical cables.

Yesterday was my last day of this long run at ART, and I worked on notes at the theater: adding light bulbs to the curved truss, dressing the midstage masking portal, working on a trapdoor platform under the stage, and cleaning up an oval platform piece that the acrobats climb all over. That was another challenge we faced-- acrobats were often practicing onstage this past week while we had to work on notes. 

I wish I could have taken more pictures of so many interesting moments, especially when electrics started working on lights while we were doing notes!  The pace is snappy though, and given design copyrights and other rules, we aren't really supposed to take a lot of pictures to share. I will get some from the ART website to share with you come opening, however, and I hope that you go see this incredible production when it opens! The show previews through December and opens on January 3rd. For more information on tickets and such, visit the ART website here.

November Wedding

My best friend from high school got married last weekend. It was an awesome wedding! As a member of the bridal party, I've been helping plan it for months...but everyone has been so busy a lot of it fell to Anna and Steve themselves to plan. They chose a blue and orange color scheme, birds and fall leaves decorations, complete with Woodchuck cider keg and a candy bar. Dinner was a Thanksgiving theme, making it the first of all of the guests' Thanksgiving dinners this year. It was in Greenwich, NY, at Christ the King spiritual center (ceremony at a nearby church).

They wrote their own vows : )
As the maid of honor, I turned to my mom and various stage manager friends to figure out what I needed for the weekend. A wedding is, after all, pretty similar to a show! Lots of planning and preparation needed. My survival kit included sewing stuff, breath mints, chapstick, Tide Pen, lotion, tissues, makeup, hand wipes, room keys, snack packs, and more. We arrived Friday, spent the afternoon at a really nice spa/nails place in Saratoga, went to the rehearsal and set up decorations (guess how many tech theater bridesmaids set up lights while the groomsmen stood around chatting-- LOL). Steve's family had prepared a lasagna dinner at the library of the spiritual center, which was amazing. We split the couple up and spent the night playing games and such, very low-key times, which was perfect.

The day of, the bridesmaids and Anna hid away in the bridal suite at the inn attached to the spiritual center, getting ready. It was a beautiful day! The ceremony was at a nearby church. When pictures time came around it was very cold for us girls but we managed. The reception was back at the spiritual center with an awesome DJ; lots of friends and family of the couple were there to celebrate with them. I couldn't be happier for Anna and Steve!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Shipping out to Boston!

Ok, so the Dropkick Murphys song actually goes Shipping UP to Boston. But who cares? I just moved into my new apartment in Somerville with the help of my Mom, Auntie Mary, Uncle Jim, and little cousin Carlie. I've been couch surfing with friends in Boston for about a month now while working at A.R.T. and let me tell you, it has been stressful. There isn't a lot in the world that gets me down, but not having a personal retreat really raises my blood pressure from day to day. (not to mention Boston traffic!)

So I found this place from an ad on Craigslist-- among many other ads I responded to-- and my new roommate Joe wrote back saying I could come look at the place and see if we would get along. It is a second story apartment in a pretty old building with a living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, separate bedrooms, trash service, heat, water, Internet, and cable; it has hardwood floors, a storage room, spacious hallway, and a cute pantry. I'm pretty excited.

My room: 10'x12' which is larger than my college dorms for sure.

Pretty sick closet with a bunch of hooks and 2 racks AND shelves. Yes, that's a zebra snuggie.

1/2 of the kitchen, still unpacking obviously

Other 1/2 of the kitchen. It's big!

Dining room...currently with a ping pong table...I'm thinking game room.

This is actually just a small part of the living room, it's HUGE. 
Joe seems like a nice guy, the place is clean so that says something at least! I looked at apartments with 2-3 girls living in them that were 10x more disgusting, easily. He hasn't put a lot of furniture in, so I'm hoping that means I can decorate in the future. If this first month goes well I will stay here indefinitely. It's so nice to have a place to unpack!

I left my car at my Aunt's house for a while. Parting with Tiny Tim was hard. I lived practically out of him for a month there, and put on more miles than the spring and summer this year combined. I also stored useful stuff in my car, like tools and blankets and equipment for the apocalypse. Not having that stockpile--not to mention a method of transport other than public transportation-- will take some getting used to.

More on Pippin and other adventures soon! Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pippin: In Progress

My first few weeks of joining Boston's "young professionals" has been intense! I visited for a week in September, interviewing and networking, and the recommendations from my mentors in Vermont and beyond really paid off. I was hired immediately as a temp worker for the American Repertory Theater, and put on several overhire lists for the Huntington, the Shubert, and Central Square.

I started immediately with A.R.T. in their scene shop in Northern Cambridge 3 weeks ago. We are working on Pippin, which will be set in a huge circus tent, complete with several levels of truss and wheeling staircases and giant banners. The shop is the largest one I've worked in thus far, though it seems small sometimes with the amount of people working: the Tech Director, his assistants, the paint charge and 3+ scenic painters, 4-5 staff carpenters and 4-5 overhire people from day to day. The metal working side of the shop is the largest part, and it's where I've been stationed almost exclusively for the past few weeks.

My project involves a set of 30 light bulbs that raise and lower along one of the big staircases. I have been working on making specialized sheave plates for pulleys, a redirect sheave plate that changes the direction of the rigging lines, and most recently welding tiny 1" bits of flat bar steel to tiny tube-like pipe to guide these wires. Building 30 of each piece (or 60, depending on what each setup requires) has familiarized me with the shop's tools fairly quickly and given me the chance to really practice with the cold saws, the iron worker, and the welding tools there.
my new friend the iron worker. it shears steel plates, punches holes, makes life a lot easier
Two types of sheave plates, offset by 1 degree angles...kind of annoying.
Once I got these plates done, there were 30 redirect sheave pieces to make, cables to measure out and prepare for rigging, and a countless number of tiny pieces and adjustments to make. We want every piece of scenery to be thoroughly checked for the install so that when the load-in day comes, everything is as ready as it can be to put in the theater space. I got to do a little welding on some tiny pieces of piping and steel chunks, which was fun and frustrating all at once. I had some guidance from the staff members and continuous overseeing from one of the Assistant Tech Directors. All in all, I hope this project will result in a cool effect for the show!

Information on Pippin can be found at the A.R.T. website.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

How I Beat Insomnia

Once upon a time, from age 8 to age 18, I suffered from insomnia. Night after night I laid awake, afraid because everyone else in my house was asleep and I wasn't. Later, as I grew older, I started wondering why I couldn't sleep. I counted sheep and read boring books and listened to soothing music. I was tired by day. I didn't care about much during high school. When I started college and found I needed the natural energy that sleep provides, I was incredibly frustrated. I took sleeping pills which didn't help me, and was afraid to take more. I tried herbal muscle relaxants. I panicked sometimes, knowing it would affect my classes and my life more than ever.

The summer after my freshman year of college was my first summer stock experience, spent as a stage management/rotating shop intern at Saint Michael's Playhouse. And it was there I discovered I could work myself into such exhaustion daily that I would sleep, at last. Maybe that is some of the reason I love summer stock so much, and why I love days in general that leave me wiped out. This week, my first week working at a scene shop in Boston, has left me silly-tired every day, and I absolutely love it. The work, the people, and the sleep I get at night. Don't get me wrong, I love my job for many other and more important reasons...but somehow sleep is the final factor that tells me I'm doing things right!

My sleeping problems are far from over. I started having vivid dreams around the time I started college, dreams that stress me out, that make me feel like I haven't slept at all when I wake up, dreams that disorient and frighten me. I'm never in control, I'm not a lucid dreamer or able in any way to wake up or realize I'm dreaming. I've woken up sick, shaking, crying, or startled. Sometimes I do wake up contented, which I'm thankful for; occasionally, it seems, a dream will come and resolve a problem or an issue in my subconscious. I guess whatever my brain is working on at night, it's important. I'd rather have it do its job than be that teenager who couldn't sleep and walked around in a hazy dream all day. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Post-College Life (so far)

Life after graduating is definitely a shiny new experience so far. For something like 16 years in the beginning of our lives we go to school and it plays a large role in dictating our friendships, our free time, our activities, and what we do with the rest of our lives. After graduation, a lot of that simply stops.

Immediately after graduating, I worked at a summer stock theater for 3+ months, where I did the work I love and was paid (albeit slightly) and provided with housing for that time. Maybe those benefits are part of the reason I'm a big fan of summer stock; in any case, it meant I had a few more months to figure out my year following the summer.

I didn't waste my time this summer while I was enjoying myself. I started applying for "real" jobs in June and July, searching sites like and stagejobspro and artsearch and more. I looked at websites and made phone calls. I asked for references and advice from my many wonderful mentors in this business. I applied for about 15 different jobs in various areas of expertise, since I have a wide range of skills to offer and am interested in many parts of the process.

Despite all of that, I am writing to you now from my parent's house in Vermont. Which is fine for now; I'm not ashamed and they're not bothered, and I can certainly earn my keep helping out here. There isn't enough work in Vermont to support myself with, however, and it's almost time to break into the theater scene elsewhere. I'm working on it, with a lot of help from friends and contacts and again, mentors. It's been a roller coaster month out of summer: I wanted to move right away, but didn't have the money so I decided saving up at home and joining the local stagehand's union, the I.A.T.S.E. Local 919, would be a good idea for my future. September went well: I worked with the local, with VSC, and in Boston a little, feeling it out.

Then October hit, and I realized that work is scarce enough I'm not really saving money. It's time to make the leap and make a bigger effort elsewhere; to spend the money now to move and search for apartments and jobs and hopefully make it up once I'm settled somewhere. Every day brings something different and big. I thought I was working hard throughout college, and I was, but not like this. I work hard every day to stay focused on what I want, to write and talk and think about where I want to be. It sounds simple, but it isn't. I know now I want to move to Boston and work there for this year, at least until the summer season comes around again. I work hard to not become a bum in my parents' basement, to suck it up and ask for help, to make use of the contacts and friends I made in the last 22 years.

Sometimes I feel really stupid about all of this. It seems so simple. But I've learned a lot already. Some of the problem with all those applications I sent out was my over-willingness to relocate. I applied to places all over the country, so long as it wasn't in Vermont. I didn't choose a place and focus on the many opportunities within it-- and each city does have its own type of opportunities. I hoped for a contract right out of college, which in this field doesn't always happen. I've learned just how much other people can and are willing to help, if you cultivate good relationships and ask for it. And I know that someday, I will be one of those people helping the next generation find their way.

Thank you for reading about my life lessons today! More updates to come.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


The Vermont Stage Company started its 2012-2013 season with a boom...quite literally! Written by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Boom tells the tale of a nerdy biologist who predicted the end of the world...and in preparation, stocked up his underground bomb-shelter-turned-lab and put an ad out for a date. Little does Jo, the punk chick who responds know that Jules' real intention is to preserve the human race.

Genevra MacPhail and Alex Koch as Jo and Jules. Photo Source:
 Directed by Cristina Alicea, the Artistic Director of VSC, this production is a quirky glimpse into the future and appropriately liberal for Burlington, Vermont. Working in the Flynnspace is always a welcome challenge to VSC's directors and designers: it is a small black box space with support columns and a low ceiling to work with. The stage is set as a three-quarter thrust for Boom; the staging carries the actors all over the space, often in unusual and interesting ways. Alex Koch turns a sweet geek into an impressively motivated character when it comes to surviving; when his limits are finally pushed by the often offensive Jo, we see Jules as he had never been seen before in probably all of his tragic life. Genevra MacPhail plays a captivating Jo whose vulnerability changes in very interesting ways throughout the show. I liked her immediately. Carol Spradling plays Barbara, the character who provides a mind-blowing plot twist with increasingly opinionated interjections.

Working on this show has been fun. I met Jim Dougherty, the technical director, back in January at the American College Theater Festival, where I was a technical intern and he was our supervisor. Working with him again to load in the set and flooring was a blast.
Load-in for Boom
Jenny Fulton's scenic design certainly captures the scientific-turned-home-turned-stockpile setting, complete with cold metallic architecture, homely Star Wars bedding and mismatched rugs. Sue Wade's props and dressings complete the space: filing cabinets and crates of important survival things (right down to the baby knits and diapers, tampons, and red Solo cups). I worked later with John Forbes and Sarah Simmons on hanging and focusing lights to create wonderfully diverse effects and a shadowy atmosphere that only furthers the feeling of being underground.

All in all, this is certainly a show worth seeing in the Champlain Valley area. Whether you are interested in the sleeping habits of fish foreshadowing the end of the world; side-splitting laughter and entertainment at the simple facts of life; or the astounding possibilities of human existence and perseverance, Boom is not a play you want to miss. For information on tickets, calendar, and more, please visit the VSC website

Thank you for reading!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Fall

There is something fascinating about the end months of the year. We aren't quite into what I like to think of as the dead months-- after the leaves are gone and everything is brown and grey and black, just waiting for the covering of snow-- but it's coming. After the crisp, sunny days of September and October, when the colors burst against the sky and summer says its last good-bye, dreary November will haunt the blackened forests, the leaves soggy and cold underfoot. A shallow wind creaks through the trees and the rain never really stops coming down.

This is the worst time of year to watch scary movies, to live in rural Vermont, to be alone. I used to be afraid a lot during this time of year. Somehow I am taking solace in its depressing discomfort this time around, and I suspect it has to do with my unhappiness at where I am right now.

After the summer, I wanted to start my post-grad life right away somewhere other than Vermont. I've been here for my whole life and worked with a lot of local companies. I want to experience new places. I love and miss my family, especially my extended family, who I don't see often. They are always there for me though, a short email or a quick phone call away: my parents, my grandma... and with my brothers settling down I don't feel the need to stay here.

So it's time.

But I don't have the money to move to the city yet, and the couple of places that made offers would probably have made me more miserable and bored than ever, so I'm staying at home, saving money, and getting my union card. It's reasonable. Logical. I'm just not patient enough, I guess. I want my independent life to begin now.

At least I'm not afraid anymore.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The End of Summer

It's been a busy month or so since I last wrote... the summer season at the Hangar theater ended with Trip To Bountiful, the story of a woman in Texas trying to get home. We had a lot of very detailed projects for this show, which was interesting and often challenging for the scene shop. With interns and apprentices leaving for school, our numbers were reduced, but many of the projects we worked on were portfolio projects for each of us to display our work, and so the fewer people in the shop, the easier it was for us all to work around one another.
Ticket booth
I worked on a beautiful ticket booth with our Master Carpenter, making a finished old-fashion booth that lifted and wheeled around with a handle mechanism. I also made a window piece and frame, which was great practice for some intricate fitting of pieces. I made a little roof piece and worked on huge, rough-hewn posts. During the load-in, I was a carpenter for the changeover and worked on a lot of the pieces that flew in and out: the roof, the window, the apartment wall. This show was a great way to the end the season because of the practice we all put in on detailed work.

Finishing touches on the ticket booth: routed edges, molding, all sanded and plastered or puttied

The window pane and frame I made! Becca made the bottom frame, which we put in later.

I made this day bed at the last minute for props, and am very proud of how it came out.
We were working right up til opening night on this show finishing things and especially working on these bench platforms that were controlled with casters on a pressurized air system to raise & wheel or lower & brake. It was quite a process. But the show opened successfully, and we all celebrated and then packed our bags and headed our separate ways, minus a skeleton crew to run the show and strike later in the month. 

I really enjoyed my time at the Hangar theater this summer. I learned a lot, grew in confidence about my skills, met a lot of contacts and friends, and solidified the fact that I love summer stock theater. Despite some rough patches-- as any theater, any job in the world, will have-- we produced an awesome season. Each show, we learned new things: we had Lend Me A Tenor, which was a hotel interior with big walls and basic scenery practices; Titanic the Musical, which we worked almost exclusively with metal; Full Gallop, which had a small set; Next to Normal, which combined wood and metal working; and Trip to Bountiful, which had finished pieces and furniture that really challenged our skills. Not to mention the kids' shows and the experimental was a busy summer!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Next to Normal

Our current production, Next to Normal, is by far my favorite of the season! A fairly recent musical, N2N tells the story of a family who works their way through mental problems displayed by one family member, and how that issue affects the entire family. It does an incredible job of addressing what modern medical and therapy practices can do and also explores the fears that many people have about loss, grief, middle-class living, familial relationships, and traumatic events. Andrea Burns stars in this moving production directed by Tracy Brigden.

The Hangar's N2N is slightly different than the original, with a fascinating new scenic design by Anne Mundell that fits the height constraints of our space nicely.
Lighting Design: Matt Richards
I really enjoyed building and watching this show. Check out my previous post for more information about the build process and load-in for Next to Normal. Ticket information, calendar, and more can be found at the Hangar website.
Photo Credit: Rachel Philipson, Hangar website

Photo Credit: Rachel Philipson, Hangar website

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Building Next to Normal

The past few weeks have been busy at the Hangar Theater! We opened Full Gallop, a one-woman show about Diana Vreeland (founder of Vogue magazine) on August 3rd and it ran for just over a week. Dee Hoty kept audiences riveted with Vreeland's funny and interesting revelations.

The set for Full Gallop was relatively simple for us. The entire show took place in an upscale apartment, which the designer Michael Krass chose to represent with a giant swoop of red set paper instead of walls, as well as with furniture and elaborate dressings and rugs. The real challenge was for stage management, who had to strike the set for the children's show every week.

While Full Gallop was performing, we started building for Next to Normal. This was another large production with a workload similar to Lend Me A Tenor or Titanic, but it combined woodworking and steel. We have all been excited about this show since it is very new and also the initial design drawings looked amazing. Anne Mundell designed the world of Next to Normal with a series of platforms and stairs flanked by three houses of various sizes, hanging upside down. The entire set is encased in drops and flats of clouds.

Parts of the set during load-in
We had a lot to build in a shorter time than usual (since Full Gallop had a shorter run of performances than the other mainstage productions). We started with the houses, since they are unusually shaped flats and paints needed plenty of time to work on them. I cut out all of the lauan facing one afternoon, which was a fun project. Framing the pieces with 1x3 was less fun, since the houses are such strange shapes and need to be supported unusually for how they are hung, but we got it done.

Other projects included steel platforms and supports, steel staircases and finished lids for each stair (I worked on those for a long time), hanging the cloud drop and masking flats. During this changeover, I got moved to electrics, so I worked on a set of double-decker trunions for the ground row of lights in preparation.A carp-elecs swing position is my ideal anyway, so this change wasn't unhappy for me.

Stair lids: 3/4"plywood with masonite facing

Trunions-- the black pieces on either side supporting the long strip of lights
This was a different changeover than usual for me. Having worked primarily in electrics and stage management before, I was ready for the challenge of switching departments and found I could make myself very useful to our young ME and electrics crew. It was a pleasure working with Matt Richards, the lighting designer, and Felicia Hall, the lighting design fellowship and Matt's assistant on Next to Normal. The changeover/tech week presented plenty of challenges, however, and I learned a lot about management and preparation, and infectious attitudes.

Some load-in photos: 
Nia & Cecilia installing the stair lids

Boom pipe and masking flats off SL...this pipe was later repositioned elsewhere.

Hanging the first house!

Focusing lights

I will post more photos and my review of the show soon! Thank you for reading!

Monday, July 30, 2012

creative writing #2

Lightning strikes all around me, picking off names I almost know. Who will be next? Where is the reason? Just out of sight, just out of reach

their silence echoes down hallways, in rooms and halls and stalls and houses, through trees down sidewalks under bridges until it fills the sky, asking


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Titanic the Musical at the Hangar Theater

Ithaca's Hangar Theater is currently producing an adaptation of Titanic the musical, a touching rendition of the historical event that looks especially at the relationships onboard and how lives were affected by the disaster. The story focuses on 4 couples from different classes, the leadership aboard the ship, and the hopes and aspirations of various passengers. Our production is carefully downsized from the original version, featuring just 20 actors and actresses playing multiple roles.

Building the set for Titanic was a big challenge because it is almost exclusively made of steel. Designed by Jo Winiarski, the scenery is an imaginative combination of steel framework and platforms, quite reminiscent of a ship, complete with railings and a swing-down, climb-able mast. Everyone in the scene shop worked overtime and learned much about metalwork during this process.
The main part of the set: a leaning frame wall & inset platform

The obstacles we faced building this show were more than the welding, cleaning, grinding, and treating of the steel materials, however. We received our order of steel 3 days late into the build, which is a big delay because it put us behind schedule and the paint crew, who paints the set as we finish it, was also affected. Transporting the huge wall frame and heavy platforming onto the stage was hard work as well, and the platforms had to be bolted and welded in the space during our changeover time. Other departments faced challenges as well, sometimes holding us up, but like any theater company learns, sharing space and time is an important balance and requires patience and communication. Luckily, we have a pretty solid team in the shop this summer.

The mast, also tilted, swings down to allow an actor to climb up it.

The final large component of the set: platforms over the entrances in the audience. Here is us at load-in installing one of them.

Other events at the Hangar these past few weeks have included more Wedge shows in our experimental series (Happy Days, This is Our Youth) that we have built and loaded in to the local high school's black box theater, and Kidstuff shows (Little Mermaid, Dish and the Spoon, Pirates) that are built to perform on top of the Mainstage sets. Currently, we are waiting on designer plans for the next mainstage-- Full Gallop, a one-woman show about the founder of Vogue magazine-- which opens next week. Hopefully that process will be moving along soon!

Thank you for reading, and as always visit the Hangar Theater's website for more information about the shows we produce.
I spent an afternoon welding on the main bridge platform!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

creative writing #1

a moment

perhaps sitting at the back of a classroom, admiring the angle of the late afternoon sun on a dusty chemistry lab.

or walking with someone, stopping mid-sentence and mid-stride. You don’t know why or where your mind went, but there was a sudden realization.

I opened the door to props storage, and the familiar musty smell washed over me. Dozens of chairs and odd bits of furniture make a familiar path toward the cacophony of teacups, glass bottles, old magazines, half-eaten toys from the 80’s, antique telephones, and battered suitcases. Halfway through the building, a foot in both worlds, the hair on the back of my neck rose and I knew I would die.

It’s the moment I heard a faroff bass thumping, lying in bed naked, that I remembered: I sold my soul two nights ago to a dark clown in a dream, and now there is no going back.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Opening Night: Lend Me A Tenor

Last night, our first show of the season opened to a lively and receptive audience. Lend Me A Tenor is a side-splitting farce that involves an Italian opera singer, his passionate wife, an angry boss in Cleveland, a hapless and nervous assistant, and three lovely ladies who will do whatever it takes to get what they want! The Hangar's LMAT, directed by Peter Flynn and starring Daniel Berlingeri, Lindsay Clemmons, Michael McCormick, Christopher Shyer, Janet Dacal, Eddie Vona, Emily Skinner, and Judy Levitt, was a delight.

Attending the performance was an interesting experience. When I imagine the set, I think of the space we worked in, both the backstage supports and the visual concerns in the front. Entering the house with the rest of the audience and seeing only the front of the set, lit beautifully and not scattered with tools, was very cool. I did not attend technical or dress rehearsals-- once the set was done, we started working on the kid's show (Little Mermaid) and the first experimental show of the season (Macbeth). Being an audience member with the rest of the Hangar staff was fun as well. It was very rewarding to see our hard work in action!

LMAT set in progress. Scenic designer: Ken Goldstein

Stage left of the complete set (photo by Meg Hurley)
As I mentioned, we've been working on the children's show and experimental productions as well. Young designers and directors get the chance to work on these, and the TD and paint interns get to take leadership roles as well, so we work with a variety of people. Little Mermaid has to fit into the mainstage space: we have some boat flats and seaweed covers that will go in.

Macbeth will be in the local high school black box theater, a nice space. We built a tabletop and rigged it to hang upside down over the stage-- complete with plates, glasses, silverware, chairs, and a chandelier. It took a long time and a lot of planning to set this table!

Hanging it was fun. We also cleaned and reorganized the high school scene shop, which would have been a drag except it's a very nice space, very well-equipped. Now, we are ahead of schedule, and have today and possibly tomorrow off before our Titanic steel comes in on Monday to start welding!

More updates soon!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Working at the Hangar Theater

It's week 2 in Ithaca for me, and I am really loving it here so far! Ithaca is a lot like Burlington: lakeside college city with some beautiful downtown walking streets, lots of hippies and local companies, with some wealth present as well. I've gotten somewhat used to the one-way streets and the detours (due to construction now, while the college kids are gone) and been able to explore a little.

As a member of the production crew, I am housed at Ithaca College for most of the summer, and our apartments are really nice-- we have a great view of the lake and sunset, a spiral staircase, and a cute little porch. My roommates and I get along well: I am in a double with Becca, a scene shop intern, and we share the apartment with Megan, the paint intern, and Sam, a costume shop intern. We've done some shopping together and are settling into some routines to make this summer work, and have already had some bonding experiences too.

The people at Hangar seem great so far. Departments work together, attitude is overall good, despite the fact that we share a fairly small space with a VERY large amount of people.  The shop is small but well-equipped, with a high ceiling to accommodate scenery and storage. I'm enjoying the work so far. Lend Me A Tenor is the first show we're doing, and it's very repetitive with lots of walls and platforms to build/repair/treat, but it's a great way to kick off the season and get everyone accustomed to how this shop works. Outside of the theater it is nice to have this group of people to go out with or watch movies with every now and then.

The schedule is going to get pretty intense soon, however. Hangar has a lot of programs, including kids shows, experimental theater, educational programs, and the 5 mainstages...all of which we'll be building. I'm hoping to apply for non-summer jobs soon, since I don't know what my days will look like when everything kicks off more!

For more info on the Hangar theater and this season's productions, visit

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Packing and more

Packing packing packing! I head out to Ithaca tomorrow to start work at the Hangar theater, I am very excited! It feels good to be graduated. This week after the wedding and everything has been filled with running errands, doing house and lawn work, seeing doctors and dentists before I ship out, visiting with my brothers and sisters, and organizing my stuff. Hard to believe how much unnecessary stuff accumulates over 21 years. I'm really going to miss my dog and birds this summer, though.

After the summer, we'll see what happens! I've applied for one job in New Haven CT which I am pretty hopeful for. I may apply for a few more, though it's good to know I could do well in VT for a few months, working at the Flynn, the Barre Opera House, and more. I really enjoy working overhire with the union at the Flynn theater, they're great people. Most recently I worked on Beauty and the Beast, and I was put on the weight rail, loading weights to the counterweight system as scenery and electrics were put on the pipes. That was awesome, if heavy, work. I will keep you posted!

I just watched the Les Mis movie trailer, which has theater people in a buzz right now. It looks good so far! Anne Hathaway is landing a lot of unusual roles lately, good for her.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Perfect Wedding

Last week was a busy time for my family! I graduated from college on Monday, my oldest brother Andrew got married on Saturday. I unpacked and repacked all of Tuesday, and headed out for Pennsylvania on Wednesday with my Grandma in her baby blue convertible Bug. We traveled all day and stayed in Binghamton, and then arrived in Lancaster on Thursday after arguing with our GPS for a while. We met up with my parents at the Heritage Hotel, a very nice place with a Robin-Hood themed restaurant (Loxley's) attached.

Near the hotel was a dinner theater, the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater, which was showing Annie Get Your Gun. It was a decent meal and a very good show afterwards! I had never seen Annie Get Your Gun before. The next day, Grandma and I went for a tour of the Amish country on the Strasburg Railroad before heading to the rehearsal dinner at Loxley's.
Dad's toast at the rehearsal dinner
We had a very fun time at the dinner and met up with my mother's relatives afterwards for some sherry and storytelling :) my cousins and my other brother, Dan, and his wife Kate, and I went to Loxley's treehouse bar after that, which was very fun.

The next morning was the wedding!

It was a beautiful day. The park in Litiz was pretty shaded, so it wasn't too hot. The wedding party was there around 10am, and people started arriving soon after that.
My dad's side of the family, enjoying the sunshine as they wait!
The ducks came to visit...they were NOT very nice!
Megan and the bridesmaids came down a curved stairway on the other side of a pond.

The ceremony was conducted by my dad's cousin, Bart Worden. It involved a ring-bearer with a book, two very determined flower children who almost made it the whole way down the aisle, the reading of a poem, a lively Bible reading (both by friends to the bride + groom) a sand ceremony, and very touching vows.
Afterward, the bridal party stayed in the park for a while to get pictures taken. While we were doing that, the guests walked to the reception at a nearby inn. My aunt and cousins enacted a secret plan we made months ago to surprise the bride and groom!

They were very surprised! When they entered the reception, the DJ played the Imperial March for us, and everyone waved the lightsabers around until Andy & Megan were seated at the head table. A shockingly small number of Star Wars events occurred, however, so we were glad to help out.
The plotters: the closest 3 ladies!
"Sexy and I Know It" brought out the Star Wars fans
My brother Dan gave the Best Man speech, which was wonderful!
There were so many other nice moments. Uncle Jim on my Mom's side sang the Danahy's hat song. Andrew and Megan had their cake and first dance. The sound of ringing on glasses to call for a kiss was never-ending :) We took sibling pictures, and the bridal party departed for a while to take more pictures in the park. Eventually, the reception wound down and we headed back to the hotel to relax and have a late dinner. It was a wonderful day!

Most guests departed on Sunday. My Mom and I went to Ithaca, NY, to scope out the theater I'll be working at. It was a long drive, but we had nice weather and it was worth it. Ithaca is a beautiful city, and the Hangar theater is right next to a park and boat launch. My housing at Ithaca College appears to have a little balcony on the outside. We drove back on Monday and boy, is it nice to be home!

Many congratulations to Andy & Megan on such a special weekend!