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Outdoors play

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by slingsandarrows, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. slingsandarrows

    slingsandarrows Member

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    Location:
    long island, ny
    So I am trying to put on a play in a park, does anyone have any helpful suggestions on how to do this on a low budget?
     
  2. tweetersaway

    tweetersaway Member

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    Occupation:
    Lighting & Sound Supervisor
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    There are a lot of factors in play for an outdoor production. What exactly are you looking at? Large venue, small venue? Is there a permanent structure for the stage/a booth area? Is it daytime or night?
     
  3. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    The more information that you can provide us with, the better we can answer your question. Where is the park? What is the show? What is the budget? Is there an actual venue or are you just performing on the lawn? The more answers to questions like that that you can give us, the more helpful we can be.
     
  4. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
    Teacher
    Location:
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    We do an outdoor production every year with a budget of $500-$1000.

    My suggestions:

    Find a park with a large, flat area (paved preffered) that can be used as a stage. Talk to your city's park and rec dept. to reserve the park for rehearsals and for the shows

    Use a royalty-free script (Shakespeare)

    Find a weekend with an "event" going on in your city that will draw additional people to your play.

    If you plan on doing this every year, build a simple set that can be stored easily and can be slightly adapted every year.

    Start it early in the evening to have light available, that way you don't have to rent lights.

    See if you can borrow mics, speakers, and amps from your school (assuming you're a student?) to do the sound.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2009
  5. slingsandarrows

    slingsandarrows Member

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    Sorry for not being more informative. Yes, I am a student. I actually just moved to this school and everyone involved with the theatre is upset about the limited freedom that the school allows for the performances, so we have decided to stage our own show outside of school. So funding is a bit of an issue, although there are a few ideas being thrown around. It seems obtaining at least $500 would be obtainable. It will be a small venue, no actual stage. As lieperjp suggested we were already planning on doing Shakespeare for the fact that we won't have to pay for scripts. The show would be Hamlet, a lot to take under but not impossible. It is to be done at a park, right before evening. Also, borrowing mics, speakers, and amps is an idea..I know some people who might be able to let me borrow their equipment for the duration of the show, but that's still very much in the air.
     
  6. slingsandarrows

    slingsandarrows Member

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    "Find a weekend with an "event" going on in your city that will draw additional people to your play."

    That's really interesting, never would have though of that, thanks =)
     
  7. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Project Manager, Stagecraft Industries, Inc.
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    I'm a huge fan of environmental theatre. One of my all time favorite experiences in college was doing the show Tracers outdoors, on the college campus in the summer. Our stage was a naturally wide part of the sidewalk. Our lights, well the two street lights on each side of the sidewalk worked well. Sound system ? Ha, my 74 vw bus with the speakers set out on the ground, a cassette deck and a really long extension cord. The Audience sat on one side of the sidewalk we used the other as a backdrop. It worked really well for this particular show, I bet you could find spots in a park that would work wonderfully for Hamlet. Need a couple of trees for Polonius to hide behind but other than that, everything else could be set anywhere. That's one of my favorite things about Shakespeare. He does an excellent job setting a scene through the dialogue, it was necessary in his day they didn't have the budgets to produce sets the way we do now.
    Good luck and keep us informed.
     
  8. slingsandarrows

    slingsandarrows Member

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    That does sound great, that had to be an amazing experience.
    Thanks, definitely will keep updates, it will be a while until this show comes out though
     
  9. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
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    Another thing, put up posters everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. Even if they are just plain old letter size sheets run off of your school's B&W copier. If you can do it during the summer on a weekend with an event, hand out little flyers during the event. Get people in costume to walk the streets. Make tickets really cheap - like under a dollar or for free. Then sell concessions, where you'll make the majority of your money.

    You could even do a lunch or dinner picnic in the park with the show following. Sell "box lunches" with a sandwich, chips, cookie, and apple and water or juice or soda/pop/coke (whatever you call it) for a nominal fee. Provide blankets or tables to sit at. Make it a family event - though Hamlet might not be the best for young kids. :rolleyes:

    You could also find a cheap children's theatre production, make it a family fun fair or fun day, get face painting, games with cheesy prizes. Make it cheap. In this economy, families are looking for wholesome, fun events that are extremely cheap and last for hours. An army of students makes great carnival workers - especially if your school requires community service hours - get your National Honors Society involved - they're always looking for projects to do.

    Good luck on Hamlet. That's the show we're doing this year for our outdoor. If you want to see if I can get you our cut version of the show, send me a PM.
     
  10. Dionysus

    Dionysus Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
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    I've worked on a few outdoor productions.

    Three of these productions were inside the main courtyard of the Huron Historic Gaol (Jail). The shows (save for matinées) started at dusk. For the first production there we set up scaffolding with the lights mounted to them.

    For the latter two we used some Genie Supertowers with some slightly improvised truss (did not have budget to rent or buy truss; But we made it work very safely. Did not even try to come down in gale force winds one night).

    The only problem that we had was when the Gaol was struck by lightning, and that lightning went along the stone wall and straight down the one tower and also striking the person lowering the tower. (We had tarps over the lights and booth riser).

    Anyways the courtyard is NOT paved, it is all grass, save for a 3" wide line of stones that we used to mark the edge of our stage area.

    The First production we did in the area was A Midsummer Night's dream, and everyone commented on how nice it was to do it outdoors (well with stone on all sides, certainly helps with acoustics). And during the Matinees we clearly did not need or use any lighting at all.

    The Last production we did was actually written by the director and told the story surrounding the last public hanging in Canada (which was done in that very place). It was very eerie leaving after the show knowing thats where the character actually died.

    Anyways I wish you well with this prospective outdoor production, you'll have loads of fun I'm sure.
     
  11. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    Since you're doing the show just before evening, check where the sun sets and/or obstructions to the horizon relative to where the audience will be.

    Joe
     
  12. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Yeah and if you don't like th looks of where all that is happening, Ask you TD to get the Sun Moved, or possibly install a rheostat on it. Now about that 200 year old Oak........:rolleyes:
    :mrgreen:
     
  13. slingsandarrows

    slingsandarrows Member

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    ha XD I'll definitely look into the idea of setting the sun on a rheostat, it would make everything so much easier :D
     
  14. tweetersaway

    tweetersaway Member

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    Occupation:
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    If you're on a really tight budget and need lights, your standard desk lamp will do the trick, just put up a couple of them as 'prop' lights and have the actors turn them on and off, or connect them to a simple switch box. Now, it may not quite fit with Hamlet, but you never know...
     
  15. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    Trouble is, the Genie reach isn’t high enough, and one really doesn’t want to open up that breaker panel just to install a rheostat. The simple solution is to alter the axis of rotation of the earth. Probably a revolve with lot of casters; you still have that drawing of a center pivot? ;)

    [Sorry for the digression…]

    Joe
     
  16. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Hanging a black hole on LX1 can solve the problem by bending the light to where it needs to be. Problem is I can't find a strong enough cheeseborough. :lol:
     

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