Guys & Dolls


Active Member
About a week and a half ago my high school put on its performance of Guys & Dolls. This was my first opportunity working as actual lighting designer for a show and it was definitly a good experience.

It has taken a little while but I finally got a bunch of pictures up on my website, unfortunately right now I don't have any of the actual performance, just pictures of the prep work and the theatre and our equipment and all those kinds of things. Thought I would share them with everyone:

I have a list of things that I learned from doing the design on this show that I will also share unfortunately I don't have it with me right now, but I will add that to the post later. Sorry if there are any spelling or grammar problems with my captions I only read through them once. 8O
I get there, but nothing happens. The page loads but no pictures... tried pressing "<<restart>>" as well. I also clicked on the "guys and dolls" link, it's broken or something.
You should just have to click on the ".>.>.>." arrows to scroll through the pictures, the first image that you see is just a title image, once you click the arrow you just scroll through the pictures. Sorry if I didn't include that.
sorry for the triple post lol,

Looks like fun, have you already done the show or are you going to?

I am envious of two things: Your ETC console and the fact that you have a fly system. The two things I want most for my auditorium... :(

And maybe a hardwired comm system but lets not push it :)

BTW- Was this a musical? Cause if it wasn't why all the mics?
No problem, we finished the show a week and a half ago, now we're just waiting for the cast party/dinner. I didn't realize it took so long to load, what kind of connection do you have? I have cable and haven't had any problems viewing it. Hmm... I don't know, I really wish we had a hardwired comm system too, we have one at the community theatre and it's really nice, so much nicer than crappy radios. Once you've used a hardwired comm system nothing else seems to be sufficient. :lol: And yes this was a musical and we some serious problems hearing some of the actors especially with the live music so the mics really made a difference. Guys & Dolls is kind of about gambling, the main character Nathan has been engaged for 14 years but gambling and his crap game have kept him from finally marrying. Sky is a big time gambler who is bet by Nathan that he cannot take Miss Sarah to Havana with him. He convinces her to go in exchange for his helping her save her mission, except on the trip they fall in love with eachother, oops. Then they come back and it goes on to the happy ending, yay! :lol:
sounds funny :)

I can understand all the mics in the case of the music, lol the orchestra pit should have tipped me off :p

I have a cable connection, it took about 2 minutes for the pics to load but after that I could go back and forward with no problem or wait.

Just out of curiosity, how big is your aud? I can't really see the whole
thing in any of the pictures.

Love the hardwired systems.
The maximum occupancy for the auditorium is 1000 but I'm not sure how many people there are actual seating for, I may take some better pictures of just the auditorium and everything now that it is all cleared out but that will be a few more days, I'll get more information for you today. 8)
To answer the previous question I checked and the auditorium seats 642. I haven't had a chance to take any more pictures but I did find my list of some of the things that I wrote down during the process of lighting the show, some aren't really that important, maybe they will help someone, maybe they won't:

1. Be very careful about what type of lens you have in your Source Four PAR's, having one Wide Flood and one Medium Flood when you haven't checked them out really can throw of your focusing. Choosing the right lenses really makes everything blend together nicely.

2. For the show I divided the Down-Stage area that was not occupied by any set into three zones, in this situation each zone got atleast two Source Four PAR's with a warm and cool color. If I had it to do again I would not have used them for this purpose, I would have gone with an ERS; PAR's are best I think for washes from FOH but not really for area lights downstage in that it is difficult to keep the light off the front of the stage. Farther back on stage, however, the PAR's worked very well for separating the stage into zones.

3. Whenever trying to separate spaces or different parts of the set with light rather than moving parts of the set I think it is imperative to use an ERS, crisp lines that minimize bleeding into areas you don't want lit are the best option. Use the PARs and Fresnels for filling in and providing back light.

4. Even with a solid design or finalized design it is the focusing that makes that design a reality. Be methodical, be consistent, and don't go too fast. Taking the extra time to make sure two lights are even or centered will really make a difference in the end.

5. Our school rented our scripts and materials from a theatre company; in the past I've used photo copies of the script, hole-punched and put in a binder for lighting; I think it's the easiest way to go for any technical position that really needs to see their script. That way your book isn't closing on you every 30 seconds.

6. I've found that, especially when you are being the designer there are really two parts to being a designer, the first is drafting your plot and hanging lights and gelling and focusing and all of that... that's just the first half, kind of like an artist mixing his colors so he can't start painting. The second half is the more artistic, creative part, and that's where you sit down in front of the console and you have decide what to use for each part of the show, is this too much light here? Do I need this lit now? Do I want this lit now? Is this too dark? Should I bring in more of this color? That part was a little intimidating when I got to it. 8O I've done it before but always working very much with someone else giving constant suggestions about intensities. Design is learning about intensity too, what is too hot and what isn't.

Those are just the things that I kind of scribbled down on a 'remember list' that might help me do things in the future when making decisions about a show or are there just to remind me what parts of the process their are and how they work. Any comments or criticism? :lol: :)
Lol unfortunately, while our school has lots of source fours, we have no extra lenses. All of them have the same lense angles as well so we can't even swap them around. And besides, all our source fours are in the catwalk and on the sidebars, and unfortunately our school board has decreed no students and/or staff are allowed up there for liability and insurance reasons. So we have to hire someone everytime we need to change something.

Our plays are usually single set, so we can spend much more time getting the one set lit perfectly. Unfortunately we don't for some stupid reason, I would if I could but the only lights I can touch hang above the stage. Everywhere else is out of bounds.

I use a photocopy of the script as well, it's annoying to have to photocopy the whole thing but it pays off.
I just spent three hours probably total over the last week sorting all of the lenses we have, each fixture came with one of each of the lenses for them. I hate it when you can't get to where you want and need to go to set things up and get everything looking good, it's the same reason at our school I can't do anything in the FOH, I can get on the top of a crappy 20' tall, wooden ladder, probably more dangerous than the hydraulic lift to focus lights on the stage but I can't touch a thing in the FOH. What is different though is the staff can, atleast the stage director can and he is just school staff. Ussually though I/we have the TD from the community theatre do it b/c he can get through the focusing faster and without every instruction from me. At the high school we never do single, non moving, elaborate sets, everything is wagons and flying in wall sections or standing wall sections, no platforms and risers. I've done a few at the community theatre like that and they are fun to do too. In some ways I think they can be more interesting than all separate moving pieces; you never know, as an audience member, which door or which opening an actor is going to come through or where a scene might take place. I guess you could argue that either way though. Fortunately I've never had to actually photo copy my own script, someone else has always had it prepared already, but I'm sure the time will come. :lol:

I guess no one else is interested in this post? Thanks for you replies though! :lol:
Ya, even staff aren't allowed on the 18' ladder. It's pretty solid too... Anyway, whenever I do a show for a director who doesn't know all the rules I can usually get up to the side bar, the principal would have a fit if she found out... Oh well.
Unfortunately for us, we usually cannot focus lights once the battens been raised above the stage, because the set won't allow for a ladder where we need it. So it's hang, aim, focus, raise, make notes, lower, reaim, refocus, raise, etc. Handy to have grade 9's around, they'll do it without complaining :)
As for sets... I like both types. A couple years ago we did a play that involved two exteriors and an interior. We managed to build one set for the whole thing, it was quite well done. Two stories too... but I can't ever recall any changing sets. Our sets tend to be quite realistic, and as a result I have come to dislike the style your set was done in, although doubtless it fit the show better :) We spend a lot of time on our sets. For instance, we are doing tech runs for Noel Cowerd's "Blithe Spirit". The whole set consists of one room. There are three entrances, two are hallways in the "house" and one goes outside. For some odd reason they actually painted an exterior backdrop on to the "exterior" flats, and the result is terrible, but other than that the set's pretty cool. It's a ghost story, so pretty much every prop on the set is wired in some way to fall, fly, levitate, etc. Fog machine, fans, etc. Backstage is a death trap :)

I'll post some pics and such next week when we go into dress rehersals.

BTW- Out of curiosity, where are you located and what is the typical budget for your schoool productions?

I live in Toronto, Canada and our budget for our play is $10000 CAD. We only do one major play a year lol :)
Oh yes, one more question:
I've been thinking about getting involved in community theatre. Any advice?

As for me being the only one replying... I don't know why no one else is interested but I love seeing what other people are doing.
Smatticus said:
I guess no one else is interested in this post? Thanks for you replies though! :lol:

Don't confuse the lack of multiple user responses as a sign of disinterest. You have had 72 views and 15 posts (well 73 and 16 now).

Just remember that not everyone will have something to say or ask but will take something away and have benefited from your post. I am sure that you check list will have helped more than just RapscaLLion.

Keep up the good work!
Advice for joining community theatre: dont!

I work with a number of community theatre groups, supplying gel and equipment and one of the main problems with community theatre groups is the amount of politics that goes on behind the scenes. Everyone wants to be incharge and it just doesnt work... ther eis some saying about it too many cheifs and not enough indians and too many chef's spoil the broth sorta stuff.... it all comes down tot hat principal so they are continously fighitng about who knows what most of the time!

But, if you are looking for a good way to get into the tech side of theatre and dont mind volunteering your time it can be one of the best things to do, so long as you dont get involved with the committee.... try writing to a few and tell them what you are intersted in, they are usually more than happy to have new people on board, just so long as you dont try to be a cheif! lol
Oh don't worry I'm very much used to that :)
I only want to be on the tech side, no terribly interested in stage managing or anything like that.
Community theater is very dependant upon the group. On the whole, if you want to do theater, give it a shot. It's either going to work out that this involvement was a good idea, or given a fair amount of time to acclimitize it won't work out with this group but hopefully does not rule out involvement with other groups.

As said, involvement can be very political and even very hack after those politicians make desciscions. Still there is growth and making a home in such situations, or other places that have other people and better politics - goals more to your suiting. You learn from them, they learn from you. Community theater... that's my intent once I get to my new shop location. Almost linked with a local group where I currently live but it's out of business for the most part for the moment. Nothing wrong with it - even board house wife primadonna's in my opinion beyond the ass they make of themselfs are there for some if lost purpose beyond the social overt part. Saw some good community theater shows - Elgin Il. has a good community theater for starters. Tools' want to confirm that? A theater up the street from the river boat in a store front crappy space? Places like that are very much like the off off Broadway or store front theaters in the big city in production as opposed to the local town's house wives in wanting to do something with their free time. It might be assumed there is a large range in types of community theater, but your intent should insure no matter which that you have fun and the goal at least is the same.

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