Friday, December 28, 2012

The "Holy Crap" stage of Scenery Production

We are now solidly into the Holy Crap stage of scenery production for The Little Mermaid.  In case you've never heard of the Holy Crap stage, it's the point at which you examine your list of things that still have to be done, and then you look at the available dates left on the calendar, and you are completely speechless except for the words, "Holy Crap!" which you keep uttering to yourself during your waking as well as your sleeping moments.  I reached the Holy Crap stage while I was at work today.  When I did, I took a moment to run down to the green room and snap a couple of pictures so I can help move the others I'm working with into the Holy Crap stage as well. Most of them won't take more than a nudge to get there, but one in particular seems throughly ensconced in the "we have PLENTY of time" stage.  He even offered to help me complete my tasks, which is more than just a little ironic, because he is one of the primary reasons I'm floundering in the Holy Crap stage right now.

For your amusement, here is a run-down of the situation as it stands at this moment...

The Separate Scenes, and their stages of development:

The Ocean - this mainly consists of fabric waves, which will be awesome when completed, but...  they're not.  The plan calls for two separate lines of fabric waves, one in the pit just in front of the stage, and one on the stage, further back - probably somewhere around the mid-curtain.  Each wave line will have 4 or maybe even 5 separate pieces, each held vertically by 2 actors.  the blue ribbons of fabric you see in the picture above is one of the fabric waves.  I have 1 completely done, and 3 more mostly done. that means with 5 in a row, I need 6 more... plus the extra tall one to conceal Ariel as she walks up the stairs and onstage from the side door.  Here's  a picture of the finished wave on the stage floor...

...can you say Holy Crap?

oh yeah, and this scene will also have a BOAT in it.  Kids will carry this boat onto the stage and then set it down behind the waves where they will then go about their sailorly duties, such as swabbing the deck, etc.  Here's the boat:

This boat is hinged in the middle so that when the kids cross the stage and arrive backstage on the other side, they can fold it up in order to get the whole thing behind the curtains until we need it again.  This is a cruddy brown color because this was OOPS paint that I got at Home Depot - 10.00 a gallon for paint is a vast improvement over 35.00 a gallon for paint that is not an ugly color... and who cares on the primer color, anyway?  It still needs a second (real) coat of the good brown color, and then I roll on faux wood grain on top.  Wondering - do you think we should paint the back side as well?

The Beach - This plan is for sand dunes on one side, with maybe a beach fence, some grasses, and a couple of rocks.  The rough interior of a rock is here:

See the curved wire on top of the plywood?  It's just sitting there because we need some hammer-in staples to attach the wire to the wood.  Or we need an air staple gun to shoot the staples into place.  Then I cover the wire with the screening I purchased, then we spray insulation foam onto that to make it look rock-like. THEN we paint it.  Notice all the times I used the word THEN?  Each "THEN" is a separate day.  Just saying.  And I need about 4 of these rocks.  Holy Crap.   If I really run out of time, I am going to cancel the dunes altogether and blame it on Hurricane Sandy.

King Triton's Court - This is a full cast scene, so there's not a whole lot of scenery, unfortunately, me and my big ideas - I made the planned on pieces elaborate and huge.  King Triton's throne will go on the platform shown in the top picture, I'll add it again here below just for clarity...

See the large box in the center?  You can't see the steps cause they're in the back.  In a perfect world, I would have painted this numerous times with lots of shades of coral and pink but THIS IS NOT A PERFECT WORLD.  I had this paint, and I showed four girls how to dab it on, and I think it's good enough.  There will be two additional side pieces so that king Triton can walk up one side of his platform and down the other side, so he won't have to look ungainly while maneuvering his merman tail.  I was also thinking, these platforms will be ALL THE WAY BACK by the back curtain, and the audience probably won't see much of them.  What they WILL see HASN"T EVEN BEEN BUILT YET.  That is, a seat made of tubes with an open clamshell on top.  And his seat will be flanked by two 8 foot pillars, painted to look round, and each one topped by a repurposed Starbucks-like mermaid traced into foam core.  Now everyone say, GREAT PILLARS of HOLY CRAP!

Triton is also supposed to carry a trident that lights up for when he casts impressive spells, but I'm hearing that Hurricane Sandy may have shorted out his Trident.  We'll have to see...

The Palace Hall - I'm not even sure what goes in this scene except for a large dining room table and some chairs.  We have a smallish dining room table in the basement prop room, and a can scrounge up some chairs, but they don't match, so I might have to staple some fabric chair covers on them.  oh, and the director wants windows with curtains on them in this scene.  Here is my one window in it's current state:

Sad, right?  and Calico curtains don't really belong on a palace, do they?  Which means I'm either making them or taking a trip to the cheap curtain store.  In all seriousness, I think it might be better to have the lighting guy project a very large bank of window shapes onto the back curtain instead.  Go ahead and google "Little Mermaid Palace Hall Scene" and tell me that's not what you find as well.  

Palace Kitchen - this is more prop heavy then scenery heavy.  I originally thought I had to make a freestanding oven for the chef to run around while he chases Sebastian, but thank GOD I don't have to do that.  I just have to make a extreme fish-dishes - you know, the kind where the fish look exaggeratedly large and sad, stuck between two pieces of bread.  Yeah, fun stuff.  I'll save this for last.  when I am at my witt's-end.

Ursula's Lair - Ursula's lair will be shaped like a whale skeleton, but each of the ribs will be free-standing and held up by a Poor Unfortunate Soul.  These are the poor slobs that Ursula took advantage of in her quest for power before the play starts.  They will be dressed in grey, and looking rather glum.  Ursula's tentacles will be intermingled with these bones.  Oh, by the way, did you know that Ursula has 8 tentacles?  Apparently, I may have told someone to make 4 tentacles, but even if, in a moment of idiocy, I did say that, wouldn't most people know that an OCTopus has 8 tentacles?

Oh, and I also have to make a bowl on a stand that has a fan and a light concealed inside of it so that she can mix her spells in there, and some fabric flames can shoot up in the air via the fan, and illuminated by the lights.  Cool.  But I may have to cut it out if I don't have time.

The Grotto - Ariel keeps her stuff in a grotto.  We have a shelving unit that I had great plans for, but then it was decided that what we really need is a SMALL piece, which is also fine.  But we need some way to show whole human-stuff treasures, and broken human-stuff treasures.  So I finally came up with the idea that the backs of the open shelving would spin to show broken stuff on one side, and whole stuff on the other side.  which means, construction man has to make this, I have to paint broken AND whole stuff, and then I have to round out the whole thing to make it look like a pile of rocks.

Finally, there's The Lagoon - The main piece in the lagoon is this dingy...

Which was loaned to us by the science teacher, Mr. K - he ROCKS! I think it looks awesome, and weathered and now I don't have the build a dingy.  Ariel and Eric sit in the dingy and almost kiss while the boat is surrounded by literally DOZENS of animal cut-outs, all painted and highlighted with florescent paint by ME.  There were supposed to be some overhanging trees as well, but you know with the hurricane and all... Holy crap.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Slacker Elf

I've been surrounded by elf-talk for the last few weeks, so I decided our house needed an elf, too.   We talked about all the fun stuff our elf would do, and we were looking forward to joining the world full of homes with Christmas elves.

However, all we could find was this guy.

He's a bit of a slacker.  There is no hanging from light fixtures, flirting with Barbies or making snow angels out of flour (by the way, to any future elves: I'll turn you into a dog-toy faster than you can say "Christmas cookies" if you attempt that one).  Our guy has no personality, or, as someone once said about me, he's a bit "flat."

I'm not amused by my elf's sluggish behavior.  Just a little while ago I caught him just lounging around on the couch, and I thought, maybe he's as new to this elf game as I am so I thought I'd give him a few suggestions on how to carry out his elf-ly duties:

Dear Elfie, 

You look bored, so I thought I'd offer a few suggestions on how you can spend your evenings.  You can start by unloading the dishwasher.

...and loading it up again with the dirty dishes.  Maybe you can teach some other people how to do it, too...

I could use someone to clean out the fridge.

Emptying the trash would be nice, too.  If you really feel the need to perform some acrobatic stunts, you can do a couple of back flips or get stuck in the pail or something.  I'm leaving that to your discretion.    I promise to laugh. 

I also have a WHOLE bunch of laundry that has to get done.  The kids will promise to find you amusing, too, if you put their folded laundry away so I don't have to ask them to do it. 

There's also a few strings of lights still sitting around, waiting for someone to hang them up.  We will all TRULY believe in elf magic if you can get those tacked up while we're all sleeping.

How about entertaining the dog?  That would be FABULOUS!!  Just be careful, Elfie!  She CHEWS EVERYTHING!  How do you think that piece of duct tape got to look like that?   

And last, but not least, if you fill the wood rack on the porch with wood, I will be happy to see you then spend the following day resting on a shelf near the fire.  

Welcome to our house.  ;-)