Archive | October, 2011

A Good Day’s Work

25 Oct

There’s a “jargon tool” buried somewhere in the WordPress application that is supposed to identify cliches and such. I don’t have it turned on but after this weekend of rebuilding the set all I could think of were trite phrases. “It rose like a Phoenix”, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas (Story)”, and so on. I could have overloaded the electrons that drive the jargon tool and brought the whole system down. But I refrained.

After 2 hours of work.

It was impressive how quickly we went from a bare stage to a nearly finished set. Last year it took weeks to frame it up, sheath the walls, build steps, ponder over problems, come up with a basement door, and paint the thing. But in six hours we reassembled the pieces, still mostly sheathed and painted from last year. Clark was even wise enough to draw a map of the pieces that make the floor of Ralphie’s bedroom.

Diagram of the floor pieces.

Oh there were problems—how did we attach the stairs to the platform? What was next to the basement door? How come the load bearing posts don’t touch the floor? Bob and Lyman conferenced at the computer looking at pictures from last year and finally deduced how it was done. After a couple of well-fed, middle-aged men got onto the second floor there was a realization that there must have been some cross bracing somewhere to take out the sway.

How'd we do that?

Finally we hung the cupboard in the kitchen, moved the sink into place, and by 2 o’clock in the afternoon we could sit in the cheap seats and admire a job well done.

Oh sure, there’s still lots to be done–touch up the paint, make a lightpost, round up the stove, refrigerator, and the car (yes a car!), put together the Christmas trees but, as Director Dave said, having the set rebuilt made it feel like we never left.

(Photos by Sharon Cybart)

A good day's work.

All Hands on Deck!

16 Oct

Early Saturday morning Director Dave and Lightman Lyman spirited off in a borrowed truck (thanks Rich!) to begin moving some of the set from a storage unit to the middle school auditorium. (Okay, in the interest of honesty it wasn’t that early, more like 10 in the morning but that’s plenty early for a couple of middle aged guys.) We brought over the table and chairs and the couch so the actors could get use to the those pieces during rehearsal. Then there was a pile of lumber that needs to be reassembled into “the house on Cleveland Street.”

And there’s where we need help. On Saturday October 22nd and Sunday October 23rd we will be reassembling the house and we need your help. All experience levels are welcome and it’s a great way to get involved in ECT!

We will start Saturday morning at 8 o’clock hauling the rest of the parts from the storage unit to the middle school as well as starting the construction. Because the framing is already done and Master Carpenter Bob will be there, we fully expect that it will all go back together quickly. This part of the process will be done to the symphony of cordless drills so if you have one to bring along and like to use it please do so.

Once that’s done we will move on to the touch up and decorating of the set so we will need people with a lighter touch and the ability to handle a paint brush. Also we will be trying to organize the props and other sundry tasks that come along.

So if you have a few hours free and want to come help contact us, either through ECT’s Facebook page or contact us  and let us know when you will be there. If you want to come for the construction phase of the workday bring along a cordless drill if you have one.

Coming to the Table

12 Oct

It's a major award!

About two weeks ago, quietly and without much fanfare, a group gathered at the J.C. McKenna Middle School cafeteria, pulled up chairs, dusted off their scripts and did a table read. A table read happens after the casting and before the blocking, it’s where the actors try to find the characters and the director throws in his or her ideas.

This table read was a little easier since most of this crew had been together before. For a second year in a row, ECT is presenting A Christmas Story and, for the most part, with the same cast. While the kids have grown a few inches–most of them are now taller than Miss Sheilds–it appears that they can pull it off again this year. If ECT does the play next year, we will need to recast.  The actors that played Ralph, Ralphie, Ralphie’s Mother, The Old Man, Flick, Schwartz, Esther Jane, Miss Sheilds, Scut, and Randy have all returned. The young actress that will play Helen was chosen from those who auditioned last year and Santa had to be replaced. (I know, I know, there’s no replacing Santa.)

The prevailing thought is that it ought to be easier the second time and in some respects it is. Director Dave had put together a rehearsal schedule that allowed a lot of time to go through the blocking for each scene and then each evening the scene would be done in just a few minutes so they would do it twice and three times. Dave went back to the schedule and cut the blocking portion of the rehearsal schedule.

We also can learn from past mistakes. Last year we found that the show ran for three hours which is a long time for any show, especially this one that draws a lot of  kids. Some scenes and lines were cut, some scenes will play in front of the curtain to reduce the set changes or allow the backstage crew to preset the next scene. The hope is to cut the play down to something more reasonable.

But in some respects this has lulled us into a false sense of security. The set is waiting in a storage shed akin to a bucket of Legos. It’s all there in pieces waiting to be reassembled. Once the pieces get to the Middle School they should go together fast but there’s always the unexpected.

For now though it ‘s refreshing to see the kids back on stage and the lines coming back to them. Once again the excitement of doing a play is in the air.

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