Friday, December 13, 2013

The Importance of Being Earnest

Moonbox Productions' fall show The Importance of Being Earnest closes this weekend after a very successful run! We opened on November 22nd at the BCA's Plaza Theater in partnership with High Spirit Community Farm, providing community life and meaningful work for people with disabilities. Every ticket sale and donation for Earnest includes a portion that goes to this organization.

Lady Bracknell-- in the purple-- is actually played by a man!

ALL of the muffins.
In the past, I've worked with lighting on Moonbox's shows: first as an electrician, then as the Master Electrician and Assistant Lighting Designer to Jeff Salzberg on A New Brain. This fall, I was the Production Manager for Moonbox, which is a challenging but rewarding position-- especially since the company has ever had a PM before-- that involves a lot of scheduling, emailing, communication, and hiring people, and being in touch with the shop we contracted to build the set, coordinating between them and the designer, and picking up rental orders.

Scenic design by John Devlin
I enjoy working with Moonbox because of the incredibly talented and decent people we work with; and because I support the overall mission of the company: supporting local arts and artists as well as connecting communities to local non-profit organizations that serve them. There are a surprising amount of connections within the company to my home state of Vermont as well: Sharman, our producer; Jeff, my lighting designer; myself; and for Earnest, our scenic designer was John Devlin, my adviser from college; our stage manager was Heather Lessard, one of my classmates from St. Mike's; and I was able to hire one of the students I mentored for while at St. Mike's to come work with us on our load in. For us, "local artists" includes these people, and it was a pleasure to work with them and introduce many of them to Boston artists and venues.

To read the astonishing amount of reviews on this production, and also to "like" us on Facebook, please visit the Moonbox Productions Facebook page here.  To order tickets for closing weekend, check out Moonbox's website!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cabaret with Brandeis University

This fall, I worked on Brandeis University's show Cabaret extensively for 8 weeks in the scene shop. With only 2 overhire carpenters and a few student workers, it took a while to build this complex set. It included a broken arch wall intersected with spiral stairs (some walkable); a Murphy bed; a hanging piano; a raised deck; and a LOT of molding and paint treatment.

Scenic design by Cameron Anderson

Scenic design by Cameron Anderson

I got a lot of welding practice on the arch pieces

And foam work...and molding

One project I worked on for a long time were these meat hooks

...for which I worked with oxy-acetylene and various other metal working devices
I also built this Murphy bed into one of the arch walls, very interesting project!
 Working at Brandeis was a steady way to settle back in after my summer away. I got a lot of practice with building techniques I already know and learned plenty of new things as well. There were definitely some challenges-- making all of the flying pieces fit between lights and architectural elements of the theater (the meat hooks were used to fly chairs, a sofa, and more; and the piano raised and lowered as well)-- as well as working for such a long stretch on the same show with many of the same people-- but it was a great experience overall and I hope to rejoin the Brandeis Theater department in the future for other shows.

Check out this teaser video a student made for the show!

Update: 12/10 Brandeis posted a Behind the Scenes video here

Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Driving with Massholes

This fall, I did a lot of driving to get to work at Brandeis University, where I built a set for their fall production. (More to come on that show!) My commute was 11 miles and took about an hour, since I had pretty standard hours.

The first week, I used my GPS and tried several different routes. From Somerville to Waltham, there's a few options. Route 90-- the Mass Pike-- is the first and fastest, but it can be cutthroat at 8am and 5pm. Not to mention the tolls. Then there's route 93 north to 95 south into Waltham, also a quick drive-- but going north to go south irks me, and it's dangerously packed on those roads during rush hours, both morning and evening. For a while I took rt. 16 to rt. 3 to 95 south, through Cambridge, and that went okay. Finally I decided on rt. 16 to rt. 20 into Waltham-- a straight line sort of route, but through several towns. I found the traffic patterns more interesting for a drive I had to do twice a day, 5 days a week, for 8 weeks. I'm also glad I chose that route because I feel a lot more familiar with Watertown and Allston and Cambridge than I would have been had I avoided the stoplights and gone on a major highway instead.

I learned a lot about driving and I'd say my driving skills improved exponentially. I have some theories about driving in Boston and why it is so scary and confusing: it's all about the intersections. Because the city has never had a renovation of the road system, the roads are based on windy paths from the days of old. Any major intersection has some quirks, like extra turn lanes, or having 5 roads meet up in haphazard ways, or double roundabouts. Then you get the combination of people used to driving on this crazy setup and people who have no idea where they're going, and impatience builds quickly. I don't think Massachusetts drivers are any worse than drivers elsewhere (in fact, the only location I'd judge drivers for being from is Quebec: what the hell do they teach up there?) but given the roads and especially the intersections and one-ways that MA drivers deal with, they seem like lunatics everywhere else.

Being a Masshole isn't a good thing, as much as some people take pride in being a jerk on the road. People forget that safety is important when you're in control of a large, fast-moving, heavy metal machine: both their own safety and that of others. People sit in their car where they feel immortal and feel like it's okay to be an asshole, when really they would never do or say stuff like that outside of the car. And often, I've found, people aren't even trying to be jerks. They make a bad judgement call; they aren't paying attention; they don't know all the rules of the road (which is inexcusable, it's true); they're just trying to get somewhere and feel on the defensive. I've come to a very zen place inside my car, even when I'm running late. Being  patient and kind-- though not kind to the point of endangering people by stopping too short or holding up the flow of traffic-- goes a long way for my own sense of well-being, and sure doesn't hurt the rest of the world on the road.