Friday, June 20, 2008

Thoughts from the Production Big Top

We knew that entering into the process of the festival, that there were going to be all sorts of adventures discovered. We knew that there would be things that we would learn, mistakes that we would make, victories that we could claim, but overall an exciting and rewarding process. There are many aspects that are a part of getting a show off the ground. The production side of the festival has been an interesting one. A balancing act if you will, as the production manager there are a lot of balls that need to be kept in the air and juggled. Should one fall, it would only lead to the rest not far behind.

One of the interesting challenges has been trying to make sure that all members of the production team from directors to designers are being kept informed of updates and changes that may occur during the rehearsal process. One of the ways that we communicate to each other is by having weekly production meetings, where we can debrief and discuss different aspects of each show. The production meetings are times where the designers and directors can ask each other questions and communicate their vision with one another.

A recent design/production meeting (that is JD's arm)

The designers are beginning to arrive and work on the shows in person, yet in the early stages of the planning processes alot of communication needed to occur via e-mail, or phone. It is not uncommon for us to bring in one of the designers via phone for the weekly production meeting. At one of our meetings two weeks ago we had the Resident scenic designer, sound designer, and lighting designer all on speakerphone on various cell and land line phones. At one point they all needed to speak to each other and we pushed all the phones together so they could hear one another - it was quite a site!!! It is nice however when the designers are here in person and we can ask them all the questions we have and be able to discuss it as well.

Dan (Lighting Designer) and JD (Technical Director) discuss the ground plan for BW

There are many other elements that go into the production side of the shows, making sure both directors have what they need, making sure actors have rehearsal props, keeping up with the latest script, taking rehearsal notes and communicating changes back to designers, making sure that all the different pieces of the production puzzle fit together and that things are running smoothly, etc....etc......

There are many things that we have already learned and we are constantly making notes on how we can improve future festivals based on the things we are learning this summer. As we get ready to head into the run-thrus for the shows and then eventually into to tech week the production management kicks into high gear and does not slow down until the curtain closes on the last performance closing night. Even after that there is much to be done post - show.

We look forward to all of the performances and are excited to share these stories with the patrons. As crazy as this process can be sometimes, it is reassuring and encouraging to remember why we do what we do, when we see the reactions of a fresh audience seeing a story unfold before them for the very first time. When the curtain is raised and the lights come up, it's showtime and you can bet we will be ready!!

Maria Hayden
Endstation Blogger and Production Manager


Donna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donna said...

A couple of things that I've found very helpful....
a google group for the production.
You can share documents, create a calendar as well as "conversations" neatly threaded.

The other is a free conferencing service for the phone meetings. There are several. My favorite right now is
Everyone calls into a common phone number. The moderator can record the call right from the dashboard. The recording can be shared with anyone who missed the meeting.

Looking forward to Bluest Water...I was there during Camille.

Break a leg.