Putting it together

The process of putting up a show at TimeLine is always both exhilarating and exhausting. But that may never be more true than when we produce a show away from our home on Wellington Avenue. It’s so exciting to explore a new space and bring our work to expanding audiences. But at the same time, it presents some incredible challenges.

This season, when we mounted 33 Variations at Stage 773, the biggest challenge for production was a tight schedule. We generally take a minimum of one week (and preferably two or three) to get a set constructed and ready for actors. This time, we got the keys to our space on a Monday morning and had to be ready for the actors to take the stage on Wednesday afternoon! Coupled with the fact that this is one of the largest sets we’ve ever constructed, it made for a tiring process—though one that was a lot of fun to experience.

So we thought it might be interesting to share a few photos and give our audience members a chance to see some of the journey that brought 33 Variations together.

It all started with a set model …

“33 Variations” set model by scenic designer and Associate Artist Brian Sidney Bembridge.

… and a light plot.

“33 Variations” light plot by lighting designer and Associate Artist Keith Parham.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

We built the set in pieces on TimeLine’s stage so that it could come together as quickly as possible. Construction began the morning after My Kind of Town closed, and 12 days later looked like this, ready to get on the truck to head to Stage 773.

For a while TimeLine was a juxtaposition of worlds. Here most of the My Kind of Town lobby display is gone but the cow remains, standing guard over the boards that will soon form the floor of the 33 Variations set. Other My Kind of Town remnants sit nearby: the table that sat center stage and buckets filled with the clamps that held the set’s pipes together.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday morning arrived and we walk on to a bare stage with lights piled in the corner. The electricians arrive first: it takes the carpenters time to load up the truck and we take advantage of the precious stage time to get lights in the air.

Soon the set pieces begin to filter in.

By the end of the day Monday the set pieces are all loaded in, the lights are all hung, the floor is laid down, and the balcony has been built. Not bad for a single day’s work!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday sees the addition of the back walls—at this point the lower panels have been stained and finished while the upper panels await their treatment—and things begin to take shape.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

By Wednesday afternoon the side walls are up, though still missing doors, drawers and other additions. Still, the set is ready for actors: Furniture is in place (the stand center stage is to hold the electronic rehearsal keyboard—couldn’t risk having a Steinway on stage while building all around it!), and it’s time for rehearsals to begin in the space.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday the electricians get the lights focused and the projectors are hung while the carpenters add doors, drawers, and most importantly, a seven-foot Steinway grand piano. And 81 hours after we walked into an empty stage, tech rehearsals begin.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

As tech progresses, the finishing touches are added—staining and painting finish off the walls, missing panels are filled in, and the show takes its shape.

Friday, August 24, 2012

And after seven days of tech rehearsals, we’re ready for our first preview audience.

The show continued to be tweaked over the following week as we finished preparing for opening night, but the bulk of the work was done. It was time to sit back, relax … and then head back to TimeLine to start building Wasteland. And look ahead to the day coming up in October when we have eight hours to restore Stage 773 to an empty stage!

Production image from “33 Variations.” Pictured (from left): Juliet Hart, Janet Ulrich Brooks, George Lepauw and Jessie Fisher.

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