Thursday, March 31, 2011
I dragged home last night, filthy, tired, scratched, with paint ground into both hands, sore fingers, and faux dirt deep under every fingernail... I had so much fun!
Yesterday was the day I "weeded" my Traveling Lady set at WaterTower. Being theater, this was not pulling weeds, but adding them.
The carpenters and painters did a beautiful job of building topography. There are several methods. Theirs was to construct plywood shelves whose wriggly edge followed topo lines on my drawings (an architect thing, we draw topography, like the US Geologic Survey, as contour lines). These shelves had chicken wire bent over them to get rid of the cloth-draped-over-a-table phenomenon, then faux grass laid over and stapled in place. Joy! The good grass, the expensive grass, the stuff I think of as "Barney Grass" because the first I used (still in my garage) was a discarded scrap from the Barney show. (They got budgets in TV.) This looked good except...
Well, the new boughten grass was the bleached tan I'd specified, the wheat-straw color of an early Texas spring. To cut costs, a 10' x 20' swath was only rented (rental grass? theater's weird), the rest bought so we could cut it. To further cut costs, we used scrap grass from earlier shows. This grass was bright bright radioactive green. So we painted the grass. (How Alice in Wonderland.) Tan onto green to tone the green down and merge the pieces until it looked like winter grass greening up at the lower, wetter areas of the landscape - at cemetery and where the stage's "yard" tumbled toward the audience and an imaginary creek. The painting turned out well except...
There was a shadow line where the "lawn" lay, tablecloth-like, on top of the hillside grass.
So yesterday I planted weeds and ivy and, oh, 50+ daffodils. These hide seams in the grass, tie house to yard, fill out gardens and hedges, and (minor point) warn actors where it's not safe to step! Other than the grass and one 10' high fake ficus I'd lugged across the whole theater building days before, every stick and leaf was placed yesterday. There are real stones, pea gravel, dead leaves from the parking lot, lots of silk foliage, faux dirt (sawdust with stage makeup), and branches from the TD's yard. Fireflies! (Ask the lighting guys about them.)
The point? To set the play's time and place: early spring, 1950s, east Texas. Daffodils and buds announce spring; period flower pots and tools (and house, oh yeah!) explain '50s; and plant choices, tan grass especially, suggest Texas. 3D foliage creates a fore- and middle-ground garden for the actors in front of stylized cut-out plywood trees and, further back, a cut-out tree-line against the sky. (Where the lighting designer makes magic sunsets.)
Today I'm a little sore, but pretty happy.
(Oops - photo courtesy of Jeff Camp, TD at WaterTower Theatre. Thanks!)