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Saw an interesting set recently...

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by gafftaper, Feb 21, 2008.

  1. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Seattle, Washington
    The Seattle Repertory Theater just closed a production of "The Breach" a new work about Hurricane Katrina. The script was not my favorite but they did something really cool with the set that I thought was worth posting. I took my tech class to the show and got a back stage tour afterward with the T.D. They installed a water tank 44' x4'x4' The entire width of the stage just behind the proscenium was one HUGE moat. The tank had a lip on it and on top of that lip they had a thin motorized stage cover that rolled back and forth. There were a series of scenes about a disabled man swimming for his survival in the flood waters and the stage retracted back and forth with the action. And if that isn't cool enough in the center of the tank they had an elevator! There was a character that represented "water" who rose out of the tank on an invisible elevator. VERY cool trick putting an elevator inside a water tank.

    The T.D. took us down to the trap room to see the tank from underneath. Just a giant plywood box on a VERY well reinforced steel tubing stand with a rubber pool liner. An amazing bit of engineering containing over 40,000 lbs of water. The T.D. came in New Years day morning and ran hoses from all over the place to fill the tank when no one was around so there would be plenty of hot water. There was a larger leak that developed early on that they hooked up a pump for and a small leak that developed toward the end of the run that they just gave up on and let it drip.

    Water circulated through two hot water tanks to keep the water a little over 80 degrees. They spent a while adjusting the temperature... apparently higher temperature made the actors feel much colder getting out than a temp in the low 80's. They also had "warming huts" in the wings for wet actors to wait between scenes or change.

    There was a rain effect at the start of the show... hoses run from an upstairs bathroom sink... theater is so exciting when you know the truth isn't it.

    Oh and the elevator... there was an electric motor on the outside of the tank with a cable that VERY carefully made it's way over the top of the tank and down into the water. They had a hard time finding the right surface for the elevator so that it would be hard to see from the balcony. They ended up getting a thick piece of smoked plexiglass and spending an hour drilling hundreds of holes in it so the water drained through smoothly while the platform itself was invisible.

    A couple times during the show an actor jumps into the pool and being that it's only about 6" from the front of the stage there was the classic "shamoo effect" So they had dehumidifiers running all the time to try to keep the theater dry. There is set of small speakers that runs across the front edge of the stage. They temporarily installed a small plastic splash guard to keep the speakers from frying.

    All in all a really interesting tour getting to see how they pulled that off. Their last show of the season is "The Cure at Troy" which takes place on the side of a volcano. The T.D. said he plans to leave the tank in place and use it for run off from the the volcano.

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