Building a box

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Installing the set went pretty smoothly. Luckily this set is designed at zero level for the Falls Theatre so we didn’t have to change the level of the stage at all, and it doesn’t have any lifts or sun roof mechanics so we didn’t have to remove any of the stage floor. In fact there’s a slightly raised deck over most of the stage. The first half of the first day of the load in we spent preparing the floor and laying out the raised decks.

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Here’s what the stage looked like by the time we went on lunch. This framework is an example of how we’re using advanced planning to build a big season on a small budget. Part of this structure will be reused in our last and biggest show of this season “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” which also is being staged in the Falls Theatre. The two large metal frames in the center of the stage will become part of a wagon for that show, and even though this show has no moving set pieces they were built with caster plates which will be used in their second appearance.

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Once the deck framework was laid out and fastened down we covered it with a layer of OSB subfloor and got ready to install the show floor. The show floor for this play is all birch veneer luan and since it runs underneath the walls of the set, the upstage line of the floor had to be placed before we could install any of the walls. At the very end of the first day we had enough of the floor down to put in the first flat.

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The floor was designed to look like a hardwood floor in an upscale older house so there is a border that runs all along the outside of the room and we were careful to plan the repetition pattern of the boards.

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In order to make certain that the floor was evenly spread across the stage I laid down multiple rows at a time and spaced them out from each other with old business cards before bradding them down. After the whole upstage line was fastened down I worked my way across the rest of the stage while everyone else built the walls around me. By the end of the second day all of the main walls were installed as was most of the floor.

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I wasn’t involved in the installation of the cornice moulding that I built, but it seemed to go up without too much of a problem so I didn’t feel too guilty about not being involved in that part of the load in. I’m not terribly confident on ladders so I have to admit it was a relief to be fully absorbed  in crawling around on my hands and knees laying out flooring.

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The top of the walls and the cut off sides of them were blacked out with velour to make them disappear. The upper sections were velour covered flats that followed the contours of the walls but on the sides the velour had to be installed after the fact since the wall and the cornice were two separate pieces and we didn’t want to see a seam. This meant more ladders, painting flex glue onto the wall, affixing velour and then trimming it to shape. That process led to this amusing “half invisible carpenter” moment.

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After the main walls were up we installed the sunroom. It’s big! It had to be welded together in place because otherwise it might have been too heavy for us to move.

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Once the walls were up and the floor was done the carpenters were pretty much finished with the set. This show is very heavy in the properties department though, and because they needed some help I got to go play with props for the rest of load in and tech. This meant that I got to do things like, build a sideboard and paint it, and push plants around in a shopping cart so that we could build an english garden on set.

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Most importantly I got to learn how to cast a multitude of breakaway plastic vases. That endeavor deserves it’s own post though, so the next time I have a spare moment to write I’ll tell you all about that.

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