Gianni Schicchi / Les Mamelles de Tirésias

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Gianni Schicchi / Les Mamelles de Tirésias
Performance Dates
19th - 26th January 2019
New Athenaeum Theatre
Creative Team
James Bonas
Matthew Kofi Waldren
Set and Costume Designer
Tom Paris
Lighting Designer
Rob Casey
Sound Designer
Production Team
Production Manager
Malki Stephen
Stage Manager
Avalon Hernandez
Deputy Stage Manager
Assistant Stage Manager
Chief LX
Lighting Programmer
Production Electrician
Roy Fairhead
Assistant Production Electrician
Production Sound Engineer
Barry McCall
Sound No. 2
Stage Supervisor
Deputy Stage Supervisor
Head of Automation and Flys

Plot Overview and Production Photos

Gianni Schicchi

Les Mamelles de Tirésias

Technical Stage Department

Technical Considerations and Plans

Master Overhead Plan

Due to the contrasting designs of the pieces, and the need for a fast turnaround between them, the stage, air overhead, and wings were designed so as both shows could live together, with minimal rearranging required between them.

Schicchi demanded a black box set, which we achieved by laying a full stage dance floor, and covering Mamelles’ hard white legs with black softs. These could then be de-weighted and hauled out at the interval to reveal the other set. The large ‘Tear-in-the-Sky’ flat on the upstage wall was constructed by Pretty Scenic, and hung through an assortment of drifts and turnbuckles. This piece could not be flown when the furthest upstage hard legs were in their paged-off position, so vigilance was always important during the turnaround.

The designer had settled on the idea of a floor cloth which the travelling band of actors would ‘tour’ with and roll out before the performance. We trialled different ways of holding this down, between its rubberised bottom, clips, and sash before finally making the decision to tape it down from preset. This allowed us to properly stretch it before each show, and eliminated some more difficulties it posed in regards to other set elements. Originally, the front cloth was to be suspended on a rope between two poles held by performers. Upon trialling this in the room, however, we found the rope could not be made taught enough to support the weight of the cloth in the middle and it sagged quite a bit. Through discussion with the designer, the Stage Supervisor devised a method of suspending the front cloth from a bar, trapezeed down on hemp lines to a wooden batten - made of the original supporting poles. This would start crumpled up on the ground from preset and - through use of a continuous loop hand-line on a sandbag downstage - could make it appear like the performers were hauling up a front cloth before their performance, with it flying fully out to reveal the space. Lengths of hemp lines to achieve this were trialled, and the finished effect fitted just within the grid height we had available in the Ath.

Master Interval Change Running List

Mamelles required vastly more technical thinking than Schicchi to execute. Firstly, the set was a white box, created by painting the already-laid floor from Peter Pan to a satin white, and cladding the stock hard black legs in white material; stapling to tension and covering the running rail in white gaff tape. Six of these legs were fitted with LED tape by the Electrics department, allowing them to shine onto the one directly upstage and making the entire stage colour mappable. Instead of a cyc on the back wall, we hung a BP with a white gauze in front to take the sheen off, finally hanging a cyc as a bounce cloth behind the furthest upstage LX bar, to create somewhat of a light-box effect.

As the masking from Mamelles would be in a different place than Schicchi, it had to be floated and paged out of the way so as not to be seen. After trialling a few different methods, we settled on ground supported points, both screwed into the floor on ring plates and from the runoff flats in the wings. These points were clipped by karibenar onto ring plates attached to the flats, and allowed us to quickly untether them during the changeover. The flats had weight boxes attached, meaning that they could be set and weighted quickly during the interval change, without the need to be screwed into the ground.

Mamelles opened with a Kabuki drop, achieved through the use of an ElectroKabuki system kindly loaned by the National Theatre of Scotland. The two ‘Cabaret’ kabuki cloths were overlapped and hung on six triggers, with the sides being tensioned out on two string lines to velcro points on the runoff flats. These would rip off as the piece fell and wouldn’t obstruct the ’sniff’ of the cloth. Due to air-flow issues in the venue, we flew a full black behind the Kabuki cloth to keep it as flat as possible and prevent it billowing. This was flown out fast just before the system triggered, allowing for the Kabuki effect whilst also making the cloth look better. We dropped the cloth onto two runs of black tat, slightly overlapped in the middle, which were then quickly ‘sniffed’ into the wings by the Stage Supervisor and Chief LX.

All flown flats for Mamelles were constructed by the Stage Supervisor in Workshop over a three day period. These ‘cutouts’ were printed onto a canvas material, which was traced around onto MDF before being framed in 20x70 timber. Once the material had been glued on, the piece was jigsawed to its exact outline, flying irons attached, and hung. Each flat had an accompanying cloth which was hung directly on the bar from its roll, ensuring it wouldn’t crease by being folded on the ground. These took the form of a 12 x 5 ‘Man with Parrot’ cloth, and 4 x 5 Westie Dog, Cat, and Lipstick Hands cloths.

There were few large set elements for Mamelles. We constructed a ‘milk carton’ truck from a 4’ x 8’ piece of steel deck on wheeled legs. We mounted the wheels to metal and wooden plates, allowing us to set them within the outline of the deck and ensuring they could rotate through 360 degrees when the truck had been clad. The facia, covering three sides, was constructed by Pretty Scenic and painted by Scott from Scenic Art. The fourth side was clad using excess white material, reinforced some of the way up by MDF, which allowed the braked castors to still be accessible by cast whilst hiding the inner workings of the piece. Two ‘sugar cubes’ were made by Pretty Scenic and adapted by the Stage Team, covering the initially scratchy painted finish with white wool to ensure performers didn’t injure themselves when standing or manoeuvring them around. Two large ‘baked bean cans’ were found by Stage Management, with Stage providing minor alterations; cutting a hole in one to allow a performer to jump out of it easily, and fitting an axel rod to the other to allow the ‘bunny banner’ (detailed below) to maintain tension as it flew out.

Special Effects

Automation and Flys