Monday, May 22, 2017

35 years at Brockport

Well I just finished my 35th year teaching at Brockport and it is already time already to plan for next year.
Went to the college recognition diner last week and got another desk clock and certificate.
This one was a bit nicer than the one I got for 30 years.

This year was hard as I returned from my medical leave and then had another operation over Christmas break, but I glad I am done with that and moving forward.
My time off did give me a new perspective on several things how things were going at work and with my teaching and running crews.
I clearly saw how some things were not working well and I will make some changes will before the fall and classes resume.
I have to work my hip rehab this summer and that will make things easier working on the stage.

So what is in store for next year, well here is the schedule:

2017-18 Theatre Season

DEATHTRAP by Ira Levin
October 6-8 and 19-21, 2017

December 1-3 and 7-9, 2017

LOBBY HERO by Kenneth Lonergan
February 23-25 and March 1-4, 2018

Music by Mark Hollmann, Lyrics by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis
April 20-22 and 26-28, 2018

Friday, March 31, 2017

I am Back to Work! ! ! ! !

After nine months off because of several medical issues I came back to work in the fall semester.
I worked on three theatre productions and several music concerts.
It was nice to be back in the Theatre again but it was still hard for me to do any real work.
My new hip was fine but my other hip was getting worse each day and holding up my rehabilitation.
I had planned to have the second hip done in June, a year after the first, but I could not wait any longer.
Act I

In December, as soon as classes were done, I had my second hip replaced.
It was a great decision as I recovered in half the time as the first and with very little pain.
It has been much easier for me to work with my students this semester and although still limited to how much I can do, I can do much more than I had before.
Each day it gets a bit easier to move, bend and walk.

I can walk a little bit without my crutches but it will be a while before I am stable and safe enough not to need them at work.
We just completed our tenth Festival of Ten and I was able to do some real work and not just point and yell.
Act II

I still yell sometimes just for fun and to keep the students on their toes..
After spring break, a concert or two, a student show and some other assorted events it will be time to work on the spring show, Wonder of the World.

Wonder of The World

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Back after a Break

I did not give up telling my Theatre Tales but I had to take care of a few health issues but I am back to work and want to start sharing my stories again.
After dealing with Prostate cancer I had two hip replacements, last June and my second hip was replaced two months ago and I have been back to work for a month now.
Things have been so much easier for me but I still have a was to go with rehab.

It feels great to be back to work and I am currently working on our Festival of Ten - X which opens this Friday.
Will need to re-read my last posts and see where I was and where I want to go.
I still have plenty of stories and I am continuing to make new ones.
As I said in my first post most of my stories are true.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Romeo and Juliet and The Foreigner in Rep, Spring 1993

For some reason in the spring of 1993 the department decided that it would be a good idea to do two shows in repertory.
The two shows could not have been more different; Romeo and Juliet and The Foreigner.
Faculty designed and directed Romeo and Juliet was a beautiful production.

Romeo and Juliet

One show alone there was enough to keep us all more than busy but we had two to take care of.
The students had been taking stage combat instruction from a guest instructor for two years and were very excited to have a chance to use what they had learned onstage.
Some of the young women were very good fencers and were used “In Drag” for the larger fight scenes.

I designed a moody but appropriate lighting for Romeo and Juliet and needed to do a gel change between shows for the front light.
Of course we forgot to change the colors for one show and could not figure out why the lighting for The Foreigner seemed so dark.
The Foreigner was designed by a student and directed by an outside director who we had used for several productions.

Romeo and Juliet

The set was simple enough but offered technical challenges the biggest of which that both it and the set for  Romeo and Juliet had to be able to be taken apart and moved out of the way several times during the run.

For The Foreigner we got to reuse the Dracula elevator to make KKK member melt into the floor.
Of course the biggest challenge was that in the middle of the run we took the set for Romeo and Juliet apart and put it in a truck and brought it to East High School in Rochester so that we could do a matinee and then brought it back and put it back together for the rest of the run.
It was a crazy idea and lots of extra work but the students did a great job even having some fun along the way.

The Foreigner

The Production Manager/ATD was being very diligent about labeling all the set pieces so we could put the set back together.
Just for fun the students made some extra brace pieces, labeled them and put them in the truck.
They got a good laugh watching the PM/ATD  try to figure out where the extra pieces went.
Both productions went well and even though it was lots of extra work it was worth it.

Updated June 7, 2017 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Dec 1992

For A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum the scene designer and I switched jobs as I designed the set for the production.
It was a lot of fun and we had some unique problems to solve.
The set design itself was rather straight forward and offered few challenges except where to put the orchestra.

The Brockport mainstage has an orchestra pit and has been used many times but the director wanted the actors closer to the audience so I designed a pit cover the would go over the pit.
There was a cutout downstage center for the conductor and a few of the musicians had to sit down under the stage.

We would use the pit cover a few times over the years, Hair in 2008 and in 2010 when we did A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum again.
I designed in four grills so the orchestra could have a feel for what was happening above them and to let out a bit of the sound.

The pit reused in 2010
The "Air' Grills

At the time I told everyone that the grills were to let fresh in into the pit.
I was lucky that the scene designer and his students painted the set for me.
I was more than able to paint the paint elevations but do not know if I could have paint the whole set as well as fast as they did.

My painters elevation

Just for fun I put a well with real water and a fountain in the center of the stage.
One student spent hours playing with water pumps and nozzles trying to get a good stream of water.
The director had the main Lovers do a scene going in and out of the water. 

Updated May, 23, 2017

Friday, January 29, 2016

Buried Child, 1992

The 1991-92 season was very successful for our program.
The productions were all large in scale and drew a record number of audience members.
At that time we had a good core of technical students plus hard working other students and staff who all worked hard in the building, painting, lighting, sewing and running the plays.

The 1992-93 would also turn out to be an exciting and successful season which again offered us some very demanding problems to overcome.
The season began with Buried Child by Sam Shepard in the fall and the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in the December slot.
We tried something new in the spring by doing both of our productions in repertory of three weeks instead of the usual two.
The two shows in Rep were  Romeo and Juliet and  The Foreigner.
If just mounting the two shows at the same time was not crazy enough we toured Romeo and Juliet to a Rochester high school during the middle of the run.

The production of Buried Child was performed on a large unit set that did not have one right angle.

The raked stage floor ran diagonally upstage and the walls leaned in at various angles.
Even the door, which was over-sized, was lopsided and was custom made.
It is all the various challenges of a show like this that makes it fun to work on.
I would spend many hours at the drafting board trying to figure out just how to make something work only to change it later because it did not look right or the designer or my assistant had a better idea.

(Note: I would begin to use Auto-CAD by the end of that season but at the time of this show I still used my T-Square and pencils. Cad does make everything easier but I miss the satisfaction I got from hand drafting.)

 One night during the rehearsal of the play and actor almost died.
The actor playing the father was a very large man and spend much of the play slumped over next to a couch.
At one of the breaks in the rehearsal they crew found that the actor was passed out and not breathing very well.
Fortunately the actor recovered the show went on without further incident.

* * *

Thursday, December 31, 2015


I have learned that I am not ready for retirement and that I am very bored and miss working on plays and teaching my students.

I will still be out of work for a while and hope to get back to working on my Blog, but to be honest I have not felt in the mood but need to force myself to start writing again and keep the mind sharp.

Hope everyone has a Safe, Healthy and Happy New Year ! ! ! !