The above Ad will no longer appear after you Sign Up for Free!

Set Construction & Painting on Theater/Roadhouse Stage

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by MNicolai, Sep 25, 2008.

?

Should construction and painting be allowed on the stages in theatres and roadhouses?

Poll closed Oct 9, 2008.
  1. The entire set should be painted on stage.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Touch-Up Paint Only

    42.9%
  3. Get that paint away from my soft goods before I drown you in it!

    23.8%
  4. You can assemble your set on stage, but anything more than tacking it together is unallowed!

    23.8%
  5. Are you kidding? I construct my entire set from raw lumber on stage.

    38.1%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    3,071
    Likes Received:
    1,040
    Occupation:
    Consultant
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL
    Today's Q. Should set construction such as sawing or painting be allowed on stage in theatres and roadhouses?
     
  2. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,666
    Likes Received:
    330
    Location:
    PA & NJ
    Re: Set Construction & Painting

    Depends on the space. Is the floor treated regularly? Is there a temporary floor covering? Is it a special finished hardwood floor, or a black floor that gets repainted after many shows? For a lot of shows floor treatment ends up being part of the set design. For a lot of shows, there are large decks and platforms built that you can't paint offstage.

    In short, if it's not a perfectly-finished hardwood floor, then why not? If the paints crew uses their drop cloths properly, there shouldn't be an issue, and in terms of carpentry, sawdust sweeps up really easily. One of the spaces I work at on campus does have a finished, sprung hardwood floor so NO painting can happen on stage, NO use of saws or the like, and NO attaching things to the stage. In the main stage and black box for the theatre department, which both have painted black stages and sometimes get floor treatment, it's not something to worry about at all. In fact, a lot of set construction happens onstage, and most painting. Means we have to move things less once they're built. Then again, we have the luxury to do that because the main stage and black box are only used by the theatre dept. and don't have super-busy schedules, just fairly busy schedules.
     
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    4,445
    Likes Received:
    2,845
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    re: Set Construction & Painting on Theater/Roadhouse Stage

    There should be a big distinction between a theatre and a roadhouse. Either way, it's at the discretion of the venue's Technical Director. Included in most venue's Technical Information Packet should be a Policies and Procedures, or Rules and Regulations section which details activities permitted or denied: "The constructing and painting of scenery and props on stage, other than very minor repairs and touch-ups, is not allowed. The theater has no scene shop and owns no power tools. The rental shall be liable for the full costs of repairs necessary due to damage to the building."

    As an aside, rumor is that a caster failed on a scenic unit during the World premiere of Dolly Parton's Broadway-bound musical 9 to 5 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles on 09/20/08, causing a twenty minute delay in the show. I'm pretty sure no one from management ran out on stage screaming "No constuction in stage!"
     
  4. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

    Messages:
    4,077
    Likes Received:
    682
    Occupation:
    Controls Technician - TAIT Towers
    Location:
    Lititz, PA
    Well not counting the fact that our scene shop has some space management issues, they work on stage all the time. It is really not any issue as we either repaint the deck for every show or we build a show deck. The stage deck is surfaced with masonite and when a piece gets too beat up we change it out for a new one.
     
  5. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    3,071
    Likes Received:
    1,040
    Occupation:
    Consultant
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL
    Having been born and raised in a couple different roadhouses, I tend to side that the stage is only the place to build if the group that owns the theatre is the one doing it, and even then I have problems it. I simply don't like the idea of people sawing on stage and letting that dust hang on the lights and curtains, and then the issues if someone accidentally paints a curtain and the curtain has to be replaced because of it.
     
  6. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,666
    Likes Received:
    330
    Location:
    PA & NJ
    Yeah, roadhouses are really entirely different from other theaters in this.
     
  7. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    43
    Occupation:
    Teacher
    Location:
    Central Wisconsin
    All set construction is done on stage. It's hard because they have to juggle things around because Wind Symphony rehearses on stage, so there are some space issues. The wooden floor is pretty beat up, so it doesn't matter if it gets a few more scratches (though they are careful.) Paint is another issue, though. Drop cloths are a must, though it's not the end of the world if a drop or two gets on the floor- though it is usually cleaned up pronto. (99% of the time.)

    However, next year, once our new chapel is complete (just started pouring basement walls today) and we no longer have to have the stage clean and presentable, we will probably lay Masonite down on the floor until the auditorium is remodeled completely. Then we will be more delicate with things. We can't wait to get a floor that doesn't "clunk" when walked upon and a floor that doesn't look like a wood chipper went crazy on it.
     
  8. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

    Messages:
    5,862
    Likes Received:
    1,179
    Occupation:
    Project Manager, Stagecraft Industries, Inc.
    Location:
    Portland, Or.
    As Gaffteper can attest, he's seen my shop space, I have next to no space to construct. When ART was originally conceived they had all their sets constructed off site then brought in and assenbled on stage. Several years ago when they decided to begin constructing on site they quickly found that there was simply no space to build, except onstage. I recenly started looking for off site shop space when I came across a reasonable canidate for the space I penned the following email to our board and Management Team It's long, maybe dry in places but I think it does spell out a lot of the issues that "Building on Stage" brings up. Some of the issues are unique to ARTs situation as we have a large parking garage which I have taken over about 1/10th of to use as storage and metal shop facilities. WE've recently turned over Management of the garage to an outside company which has brought in a whole new set of issues, like staff members now having to pay exhobitant prices for parking if they want to use our parking lot. Perhaps someone else might be able to take this e-mail and use parts of it as a way to show their management the advantages of "off-site" construction of scenery. Honestly I've always worked at places where we constructed off site then moved into the theater, and I was more than a bit taken aback when I learned of the situation in which ART operated when I first got there. So here it is :

    Excerpts from Shop Facilities Email.

    When we proceed with the Phase III project of installing the staircase we will be losing the Production Office, which currently houses three staff positions: Technical Director, the Master Carpenter/Shop Foreman, the Facilities Manager (not to mention it is, the repository for Technical Reference, Manuals, de facto meeting room for crews, Printing central for both of the plotters, the Vinyl sign production room, home to half of the Facility Managers inventory of light bulbs and other small stuff, as well as just being the office where I do my work). We will also lose the current Mainstage Box Office and the former Box Office Managers office, both of which are used to store materials vital to the operations of concessions, and facilities. Furthermore, speaking of staff positions, presently we do not have, nor am I aware of a plan for, an office space dedicated to the Properties Manager, a position which is to be re-instated next season. I bring this up because if we are not able to split the warehouse from the office space as was mentioned, it could actually serve as a solution to the upcoming space concerns outlined above.



    In fact, as I got to thinking, I found there were several things that this property may have to offer us. I have listed them as talking points, and go on to explain them below:

    o Providing free, convenient parking for all staff members as well as actors and crew members when necessary.

    o This would free up virtually the entire lower parking garage to .......

    o Improving the “Look” of our facility.

    o Reducing the cleaning / maintenance cost of our facility. Reducing the wear and tear of our facility.

    o Increasing rental income by having the theatres available more often.

    o Allows for a slight modification to the Phase III floor plan resulting in the opening up of more space available onsite for F.O.H. use.

    o Higher production values at current budget levels.

    o Increased Production department efficiency.

    o Furthering our mission statement, by allowing us to provide affordable shop space for other theatrical companies and educational institutions.

    Parking Garage and related:

    There is a 50’ X 100’ vacant lot attached to ..........., hereby referred to as “the Property”. At present, the lot is a bit overgrown, but once cleaned up I think it could provide ample parking for our staff members, actors and crew people. This will reduce the amount of spaces we need to keep in reserve from .......management. The lot is located exactly one block away. Any staff member could park and walk that distance. Because of the access it could also serve as an excellent parking alternative for Actors and Crew members who may be working at the Theater until all hours of the night.

    Moving all the staff and crew parking as well as all the shop storage areas to the Property would free virtually every parking space in the lower lot, and the more spaces we can provide to the ......., the more spaces they will have to sell which means dollars for us as well.

    Furthermore, by relocating the stock storage and Metal shop, the garage will have a cleaner, neater appearance, which is advantageous to both us as the owners of the facility and the Goodman’s as the people trying to rent space in it. Not having the metal shop in the lower garage will decrease the noise endured by many of renters when we are in full construction mode of a show. Not spray painting, “Bondo”-ing, varnishing, all of which are currently done in the garage, will reduce fumes, pollutants, toxins, and dust to which our renters are exposed to and do complain about.

    By not have a large enough shop space or assembly area we are forced to “Build on the Stage” which means cutting, sanding, spraying and painting in the theaters themselves. As hard we try we will never be able to completely reduce the production of dirt in the theater but by having an off site shop space we will cut out most of our contribution. This will result in a lower cost for maintenance and cleaning of the theaters as well as reducing a very stressful part of tech-week; prepping for the Sunday night audience, which usually entails the Production Manager and Technical Director running around the theater at the last moment moping, wiping and cleaning.

    Production Efficiency:

    Being able to preassemble our sets <scenery> off site and then loading them “En Masse” into the theater means we, the Production Department, do not need to block out the 5 – 6 weeks prior to tech week as “Unavailable to Rentals”. Having preassembled the set, a typical load-in should take more than a week and a half to two weeks total, that’s including lights. This means the spaces are going to be available far more often than they are at present. More availability means more rental income.

    Front of House Space:

    The modification of the Phase III floor plan is an idea that came to me yesterday when I was looking at the model while ........ and I were discussing cleaning out the properties storage areas. It really is a side note of sorts but I feel it merits mentioning as it could provide a lot of storage space for events and facility support, e.g. storage of tables, linens, Pipe and Drape, which we are in great need of. The Property is so close we could move all our props storage over and our Stage Managers and Production Assistants would still be able to easily obtain rehearsal props, and set pieces. This would be problematic if the shop / storage space were located way across town as some of our SMs and P.A.s do not drive.

    Higher Production Value:

    Being able to fully assemble, paint and finish a set prior to installing it in the theater will allow us to do a much better job of hiding seams, working out fit problems, and figuring out assembly order. All of these things will lead directly to a higher degree of “finish” on the end product. These are things which now we often don’t have the time to address in advance, we typically say, “We’ll fix it once it’s in.” Unfortunately, often fixes are just not possible once everything is in place. Many a small issue can derail us at the last minute, by catching these during the pre-assembly phase we, once again, increase the quality of the end product while not increasing our scenic budgets one whit.

    Department Efficiency:

    Presently, we spend a lot of time moving materials around, going to the garage for a piece of wood, wrangling plywood through doors, building something inside then taking outside to be painted, or vice versa. To receive a lumber order we the delivery truck must back into the parking lot, we take the whole crew outside, cross load from the truck to wheeled carts, move the carts to the storage bin, off load the carts, then go back for the next load off the truck. Presently we obtain most of our lumber from ......... as they are the only company willing to work with us on deliveries to our strange situation. The Property will afford us a “Dock Height” loading bay. This means we could order lumber from either ........., both of which will offer us wholesale prices as they are distributers not retailers. Having one large, open shop space means not stumbling around each other in the shop, being able to move material s more efficiently means less time wasted which is the very definition of efficiency.

    Mission Statement:

    As a manner of defraying rental costs, and as a way to help our friends and neighbors, it may be possible for us to provide storage, shop and paint deck space to other theatre companies or small productions. As we all know ..... is renting a large block of next season in our facility, through discussions with .........I have discovered the shop space, to which they are relocating, is wholly insufficient. It may be possible that some of our space could be rented out as storage, for companies such ..............or any one of the companies from whom, having never seen our present shop space, I often receive calls requesting,

    “A place to build a couple flats…”

    ..... I thank you for indulging my long windedness, and look forward to your comments, and discussing this issue with you all further.


    Sincerely,

    Van J. McQueen

    Technical Director

    Artists Repertory Theatre
     
  9. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    9,442
    Likes Received:
    1,846
    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    You might want to use the San Jose Rep as a comparison study. I interviewed there for their ATD position earlier in the year and they were in the exact same situation. They were able to get the shop space and have been saving money and time ever since. They also get a large amount of rentals in, as well as doing "contract" work when the shop has downtime building scenery and industrial sets for other venues.


    Here, my shop is the SR wing, its a very large wing, but its still onstage. We are not doing a single mainstage show in our theatre, so I will never build a set on this stage that will go up on this stage (we are doing shows in our blackbox and 2 other theatres in the community). I also do not have a flyspace in my theatre, so all soft goods are still hanging. I try to keep them tucked in off the floor, and I will be west coasting the cyc soon. Not to mention my dimmers are also SR next to the shop space. I don't think I will ever get a real shop, but the amount of where and tear that happens simply due to the nature of building is enough to have a good arguement for one.
     
  10. chaosLeader

    chaosLeader Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ashland Oregon
    At the High School I attended, all we had was the stage. We didn't have a scene shop or anything. The floor was always painted after a show got done so it worked out all right. But if you have a scene shop, it should be used for all construction and painting that is reasonably possible.
     
  11. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

    Messages:
    1,304
    Likes Received:
    151
    Location:
    Southern California
    If I had the authority to make the decision, painting would be absolutely forbidden on our main stage. We have a 10,000 square ft. shop facility with a dedicated paint shop set up in such a way that two large set pieces can be painted simultaneously. There is also plenty of space outside in which to work on sets if the paint shop is full. That, however, is not why I believe our painters should be banned from the stage. They should be banned because they do a lousy job cleaning up after themselves when they are allowed to paint on the stage. If you've never tried getting dried paint off a Stagelam floor, it's a major pain, and I seem to be the only member of the Pageant staff who's figured out how to do it. So painters on stage means more work for me. Fortunately, I have been able to keep painting on the stage to a minimum by raising a stink with the Director and the Technical Director about our painters leaving a mess behind. If you get right down to it, I don't care where they paint. I just don't want to know they've been there.

    As for other set construction activities, as long as people clean up their messes, the stage is fine. I can do my work wherever the set is at any given time. That means I install lighting onboard sets in the scene shop, the metal shop, the paint shop, the sculpt shop, outside, and yes, even on stage. That flexibility allows me to do my job while, for the most part, keeping out of the way of the shop, paint, and sculpture departments.

    Our Master Carpenter frequently uses the stage for fitting our cast into the sets, a necessary part of creating living pictures. He uses the stage when he can because during set fittings, all other work in the area has to stop for the duration of the fitting. So, by using the stage, he minimizes the impact of these fittings on the rest of the staff. However, the stage is not always a viable option, so fittings take place in the various parts of the shop building as needed.

    When we have outside groups using our facilities, I am usually the member of our staff working with the groups, so within certain company guidelines, I have a lot of leeway in determining what these groups are, and are not allowed to do on our main stage and our second stage. I'm a bit more strict with the main stage, as what groups do there can impact what we do for the Pageant. What I allow really depends on the history that the Pageant has with the group. If they are notorious for leaving a mess behind or damaging Pageant property, I am a little harsher than with groups that have a better reputation. On the second stage, I usually come just shy of an anything goes attitude, as long as they clean up after themselves and agree to repaint the stage floor if they get paint on it. But again, how tight I am with the reigns really depends on how the given groups have, historically, treated our theatre. On one occasion, a group using our second stage wanted to build a bridge over a doorway in the house. In a meeting with them three months earlier, I told them they would have to clear that with our Technical Director. Instead, they tried to sneak it in, telling me they had gotten permission. I refused to allow them to install it until I spoke with our TD as he had not told me they had cleared it with him. When I spoke with our TD the next morning, he didn't know anything about the bridge. They had never even talked with him about it. Ordinarily, I'm pretty lenient with the groups using our facilities, but with this group, I had to keep my thumb on them the entire time I worked with them because they kept trying to sneak things past me.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice