Archive | June, 2013

Growing Truffala Trees

16 Jun

TT Sideways CutoutsTT Waste???There aren’t many Once-lers in community theater set construction crews. Everything is re-used, up-cycled, re-purposed and repaired to the point that many 2 x 4’s and drywall screws have been in more shows than any actor. I cut a half inch block off a 2 x 4 the other day and tried to decide if I should leave it for some other purpose or throw it away. (I left it in the scrap box. Heck, it will become a shim in some set piece someday.)TT Book Covers

Over the last week or so the Truffala trees have been coming together in the shop. The tree trunks were formerly the cardboard centers from rolls of  carpet. They are sturdy and about twelve feet long and could be cut to the lengths needed. Scott put out a call for them early on and somebody knew somebody who was a carpet layer and suddenly the shop was littered with them.TT Weighted tube

Unlike carpet tubes, not all Truffala Trees grow straight to the sky so experiments were conducted to create bends in the trees. One was placed on sawhorses and wrapped in moist rags then sandbags were placed on it. Unfortunately the moisture got to the glue that holds the wraps of cardboard together and it looked as if it had been struck by lightening.

TT Arcing tubesOne evening two very long tubes with a nice arc appeared in the shop. They will adorn the front of the stage in front of the curtains to keep them from interfering with light bars and teaser curtains and any other number of things above the stage.

While the trunks were being painted, white with brown, the tree tops were also being experimented on. Styrofoam, the kind that comes in sheets that is used in construction for insulation, works well in set construction. It’s light so if a truffula tuft comes unhinged from its moorings, the result may surprise a small Who but probably won’t leave a mark. First the styrofoam was cut into circles and then a few notches were cut in. Scott wasn’t happy with the result so he  tried cutting more arced notches into them so they resembled large circular saw blades.TT 2nd try

Of course then the issue became the best way to cut the thick styrofoam: there was the bandsaw, the jigsaw, the coping saw, and of course the razor knife. The power saws were  the quickest, the band saw, and the coping saw created the smoothest cuts,  the razor knife wasn’t long enough, and the jig saw was fine when the band saw was busy cutting out fish.

Truffela TreesTT BandsawThe tops were painted with a base  of red, orange, or yellow and then colors were streaked over top to give them a sense of depth and shadow.

The tubes were applied to plywood bases that had been painted black to blend with the stage floor and  were large enough to keep them from tipping. Then finally the tops were attached to the trunks with long drywall screws and a large washers to distribute the pressure.

Tree topThe forest of trees finally appeared on the stage and it was discovered that some were too tall and had to be trimmed. The light guy fretted about the shadows they would cast but overall they captured the imagery of the genius Dr. Seuss.TT on stage

And We’re Off

9 Jun
Julie, the Music Director leads the singing.

Julie, the Music Director leads the singing.

For the last three weeks, hidden away in the Middle School auditorium, the 50 plus members of the cast of Seussical have been rehearsing.

The first few weeks are unsettled and by the time we transition to the high school things finally start to solidify. The final cast list is different than the initial cast list, some people determine the time commitment is too much, or there are schedule conflicts, or don’t think the part is quite right. So the Director has to rework the parts sometimes announcing changes on the fly at the early rehearsals.

The cast in the MIddle School auditorium.

The cast in the MIddle School auditorium.

Since the first few weeks of rehearsal also overlap the last few weeks of school, many of the cast members have conflicts due to things like school concerts and awards nights and sports events. The Director and the Music Director work with whoever shows up to make the most of the two hour rehearsal time.

Set Designers Yvonne, Scott, and Monica plan out the backdrop.

Set Designers Yvonne, Scott, and Monica plan out the backdrop.

As of now though, school is over and starting tomorrow the cast will start rehearsing in the High School Performing Arts Center. Some may be surprised that while they have been singing at the Middle School, the set building team, including many of the actors, have been busy working on set pieces. The construction of the main two level platform was finished  and set into its approximate position, Horton’s nest was cut out and attached to a wagon, the jungle trees were put together and a hidden jungle gym was constructed. Monica and Yvonne worked to get the top half of the back drop painted so it could be hung.

The wild ride to opening night will begin in earnest starting tomorrow as everyone’s attention will focus on the show.

Set crew building and painting.

Set crew building and painting.

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