Snow Queen

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The Snow Queen
Snow Queen Cast & Crew.jpg
8th - 16th December 2016
Performance Course
Third Year BA Acting
New Atheneum Theatre
Creative Team
Douglas Irvine
Robin Peoples
Sound Designer
Lighting Designer
Production Team
Stage Manager
Deputy Stage Manager
Assistant Stage Manager
Assistant Stage Manager
Technical Stage Manager
Head of Flys
Deputy Technical Stage Manager
Production Electrician
Deputy Production Electrician
Lighting Programmer
Sound No.2
Sound No.3
Technical Crew
Poppy Apter
Dylan Hodgson
Allan Hamilton
Ross Brodie
Jak Coventry
Karyn Wilson
Craig Stevenson
Regan Kelly
Andrew Johnstone
James Hamilton
Adlai Faigen

The Snow Queen

In 2016, RCS broke all traditions, and decided to put on a Winter Show rather than a Pantomime. This production was The Snow Queen...

'A fun, thrilling and magical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s wintery tale. The Snow Queen has cast a spell on Kay - freezing his heart and stealing him away to her Ice Palace - all part of her wicked plan to turn the world into winter. But young Gerda has different ideas and undertakes a daring quest to rescue both Kay and the world from the Snow Queen’s icy grip.'

The Production Team

SQProduction Team.jpg

Our wonderful production team!

Stage Management

The Team


Props Lists

Here is version one of the props list...

We then switched over to using our whiteboard in the office over a digitalised copy as it changed so often that as a team we found it much simpler and more satisfying to use a physical large copy...



Specific Props...

Tipover Box

SQ tipover.jpg

Timothy the Fish


Drawstring Bags


Maisy the Bear


Paging German Masking

Louise paging.png

During this production, it was the Designer’s decision to use German masking (as opposed to the regular Italian masking) to cover the wings from the view of the audience. Italian side masking, the more common masking we use, runs across the stage with curtains facing parallel to the Proscenium Arch. German side masking runs upstage to downstage, with curtains perpendicular to the Proscenium Arch and allows breaks in the curtain to allow actors on and off stage. This is where the ASM’s come in. It was our job to know the play well enough to know whether the actor(s) are coming off USL, CSL, DSL and at what cue point so you can page the curtain open so they can enter the wing without stopping to find where the break in the curtain is to get through. After tech week we can then devise a specific ‘Paged Entrances’ so we have all our entrances/exits cues on paper so everything (fingers crossed) will run smoothly.



After discussions with the director and designer, the following parameters were determined for the fire;

- It needed to be at least the width of the trap (700mm)

- It needed to be in a container that looked like it was carried around by The Robber Girl for the purpose of creating fire

- It needed to burn for the length of the scene it featured in - around 7 minutes

- It needed to be tall enough that it looked like a small campfire

- It needed to be able to both light and extinguish instantly

A number of different options were looked into for the fire - initially flame paste] was considered but due to the number of shows, the width of the fire and the length of time the fire needed to burn for, it was quickly decided this option was too expensive.

Following this, we purchased fuel tablets]. They seemed like a good option as they are designed for starting campfires, they do not liquefy when burning and they (in theory) light easily. Unfortunately, when tested, they provided a very small flame - only a couple of inches tall, and only the width of the tablet. A demonstration of the fuel tablets can be found here] (with the wind helping the flame along quite a lot). This was not anywhere close to the desired effect and we quickly realised we would need to come up with a new method.

We then looked into Easylogs] which are logs filled with combustible material which light very quickly, are virtually smokeless and burn for up to two hours. We used this with a small amount of flame paste on top to help it light quicker. This was very effective and created the effect we needed.

However, using this method we discovered two issues...

The first being that the metal galvanised planter] we bought to keep the fire in was not as heatproof as expected, and buckled under the heat of the fire meaning we could not use it. In order to tackle this, a purpose built steel container was created, with a trough inside it for the flame paste. The container was on small legs to ensure there was room for oxygen under the container and to prevent the container burning the floor. A lid was also made to accompany this for instant extinguishing of the flame, and welding gloves were provided for removing the container from the stage after the flame scene was complete.

Secondly, we also discovered that it was impossible to know for sure what material was contained inside the log, rendering it unsafe and an unusable method for creating our fire onstage.

After more research and discussion, it was agreed that we could have the budget to buy the flame paste in order to ensure the flame would be consistent in all respects every night. The costings for this were based on estimations provided by Le Maitre, and the breakdown of this can be found below...

Unfortunately, this was far too much flame paste, and we only used 375ml per show... Oops.

Health and Safety

For The Snow Queen, the stage management department took responsibility for the safety and risk assessments of...

- The 'Showsnow' on the floor

- The flame

- Performers in the aisle

- Performer and crew slips, trips and falls

- Performers in socks

- Performers in the tip over box

As well as the performers on each of the trucks;

- Performers walking on the tree trucks

- Performers on the cart truck

- Performers on the castle truck

- Performers on the throne truck

- Performers on the house truck

Risk assessing the trucks was challenging as they were all purpose built meaning they did not come with any solid safety documentation - a lot of the safety limitations of the trucks was discovered through trial and error with the blocking. To work out the boundaries of the trucks, stage management did their fair share of playing on them to work out what felt safe and what didn't... As well as collaborating with the Technical Stage Department and the Construction department, of course.

The RA for the flame can be found below :)


The Stage Management department had a £600 budget for The Snow Queen. £200 of this contributed to the cost of the flame paste, leaving us with £400 for everything else. The budget reconciliation can be found below...

Scene Breakdown"

Risk Assessment rehearsals - The cart"

'Costume Fittings during rehearsals - DSM"

SQ costume fitting.png

Stage Department


The Team

The Technical Stage Department team consisted of;

SQDarth-vader.jpg Stuart Leech (Head of Stage) SQToga1.jpg Dimitri Grant (Depute Head of Stage)

Foxwsignificantotter.jpg Yesha Subontincic West (Head of Flys)SQCREW.jpg First Years (Crew)

Tracking, Trees, Trucks & Carts

The House

SQWebHouse.jpg SQGrandmas Throne-1.jpg

The Castle

Snowqueencastle.jpg SQCastle-1.jpg

The Tree's

SQCloth.jpg SQFlown Trees and Portcullis-1.jpg

The Cart

Snowqueencart.jpg SnowqueenCart-1.jpg

The Throne

SQThrone.jpg SQThrone-1.jpg

SQCastorfixing.jpg This is the end

Genie Trap

The Trap Queens of 2016

IMG 0024.JPG

During Snow Queen a Genie Trap was used. This was used for both appearances and disappearances throughout the performance. The trap also required a reset mid show which had to be done without a performer on the trap - as seen in video link and 'trap method pdf'.

Side Masking


Counter Weight Plinth

The counterweight plinth was used in Act One - Scene One for the appearance of the magic mirror. The plinth was counterweighted which meant that when it needed to be raised, all that was required was to pull the stage weight to floor. When the plinth needed to be lowered, the stage weight was pulled up using a piece of rope. The picture below shows the placement of wires in the pulley system. In order for the plinth to be operated, two people were required, one to remove the pin and open the slider, the other to place the mirror prop on top and operate the pulley. Find a link to the running list for the plinth below. The plinth cue was a particularly difficult one as it not only required perfect coordination between operators but because extra care had to be taken to ensure the pin wasn’t removed too early which could have caused an actor to stand on the opening and fall. During the run of Snow Queen, we only had one occasion where an actor stood on half of the plinth slider when the pin had been removed, however the actor soon realised where they were standing. After this performance, the TSM informed the cast not to stand too close to the plinth opening, and thankfully we never had a repeat of the incident. Also, on some occasions, the operators felt that there was too much smoke which sometimes made it difficult to see clearly. Despite having a few minor difficulties, the plinth worked successfully and really added to magic of Snow Queen.

CWPlinth1.jpg CWPlinth2.png IMG 0177.jpg File:Plinth Running List Example.pdf

Vectorworks Project Sharing

In the early design process of Snow Queen the stage department discussed an idea of using a sharing based platform which would allow multiple user to feed into a single Vectorworks file. Initially we discussed sharing a single file on a cloud based server, however this was quickly ruled out due to multiple issues around access and version numbers.

We began to look at Vectorworks Project Sharing.

Project Sharing Architect 1-1024x675.png ProjectshareReal.jpg

This feature allows users who have permission to access the file in the cloud (in our case Dropbox) to simultaneously edit different aspects of the same drawing. Different permission levels are granted by the administrator of the shared file, in turn allowing different users to edit different things.

By default, when the Project File: Snow_Queen_Master.vwxp, you will see that the file that actually opens on your computer is Snow_Queen_Master_yourusername.vwxw. This file is your Working File and is to be stored locally on your machine. It is where you are to make all changes and edits. As an added level of security the default permission for any user opening the Project File for the first time is ‘Read Only.’ Once the user has saved the Working File locally on their machine the administrator can edit the permission of that user to the appropriate one and then the user can begin editing.

The way Project Sharing in Vectorworks 2017 works is that each user can check-out one or multiple layers and edit them. When these layers are checked-out only the user that has checked them out can edit them. When the user wants to make the changes visible to others in the shared Project File, they need to Save and Commit their changes. This is done by going to File- Save and Commit. The user still has the layer or layers checked out. To release the layers, go to File- Close and Release.

IMPORTANT: If you have not Saved and Committed before Closing and Releasing, changes will not be saved, you will lose all work. Closing and releasing also closes the file.

More information can be found on the Vectorworks Project Sharing page:


Snow Drop

The Snow drop was built for The Snow Queen the 2016 christmas show. It required snow to fall across the span of the Ath stage for a couple minutes. the budget did not stretch to hire proper snow drops and we could not use "bubble snow" due to the floor and set not being able to take it. The idea was to build a snow roller using plastic pipe in workshop. This project was taken on by Stuart Leech TSM, Dimitri Grant DTSM and Yesha Subotincic West Head of Flys.

The Drop was too heavy to move smoothly from Fly Floor so the lines were instead to a counterweight bar (bar 14) with 5 weights in the cradle. The operation was therefore done by moving a bar in and out rather than pulling hemp lines.

After the end of the tech the roller was switched out for a snow bag with the same rig and operation. The reason for this being that the time did not exist to perfect the snow fall from the roller. Given more time the roller would have been used.

Further Information information regarding the Snow Drop can be found here Snow Drop.


Similar to Dick McWhittington and The Neil Smith, Single Winch, Dual Lift Ladder Divert System™ Snow Queen required lighting ladders to move in show for truck to go on and off stage.

In times of old The Great Warlock Himself, Neil McDowell Frodo Skywalker Smith, wielded the great and awesome powers of ascension to bring light to the stage of Panto. Like the gilded war heroes before them a new generation of warriors set out to follow and albeit different path to shine light upon a dark and troubled world. They opted for the upstage ladders (hung off truss) to be suspended above the abyss of what is the New Atheneum Stage by not 1, not 3 but 2 automation points. Each span of truss was a 3m section and a 1m section. Stage right used automation winches 2 and 4 and stage left used points 1 and 3. To monitor the oppressing weight of darkness and lights hanging on the truss, each automation line also had Elven made load cells attached.

Looketh below and find the scroll that shows the states of automation used in this Great Show.

Axis 3

Axis 3 has been having issues for a while. Especially a problem on this show as Axis 1 and Axis 3 were grouped and had to fly together a lot. Axis 3 kept stopping with “Break Error” Also causing Axis 1 to stop too when they were in a locked group. Steve suggested doing a break released with no target 10 times before each show. This did not really help. He then switched the group to both other kinds. unfortunately the other kinds of groups caused Axis 1 to keep moving when Axis 3 had stopped. In order to fix this you had to go into Query and Drive Reset. Axis 1 and 3 were put back into a locked group and Stage Technologies was called. Over the phone Malki took instruction from someone names Kevin (I think). We did what we could but it didn’t fix the problem. So the other option was then for Stage Technologies to work their way into our system through their magical powers and disable the things that was causing the error. They did this and signs were put on all saying “Break Check Back Disabled Axis 3”.

Automation micro-switches

Automation micro swiches.jpg

Micro-switches on Winch 3

These were watched from the top of the secret ladder (shhhh) while the break was fired to see if anything changed. Break fired and microswitches did not register that the break had been disengaged.

Automation what?.jpg

When a Multimeter (voltmeter) is put to 2 and a piece of metal (for example the side of the box) it reads 29 volts. Then the Multimeter is put on 6 and the break is fired with no target and if it reads the same then the break has power going to it so the box is not the issue.

Other Automation error

Automation error.jpg

This was another issue we had prior to the Sunday. Head of Flys sent a panicked email to Steve and Malki but it turned out to just be a loose ethernet cable. All that had to be done was it be plugged in fully and restart the desk.

Sound Design

The Sound Design was complex and comprised of completely digital music, crafted by two Composers from the MA Musical Theatre. The Sound Design was programmed by Sound Designer Calum Paterson from BA Production Technology & Management, and featured over 200 individual cues from a Cue Stack of over 700 elements. This was the largest and most complex christmas the Conservatoire has ever seen.

File:Input List Output List.pdf
File:Kit Request.pdf
File:Booms v2.1 For Callum.pdf
File:RCS Winter Season 2016 Co-Ordination .pdf
File:Snow Queen RA.pdf
File:Sound Dept Call Sheet.pdf
File:Sound Dept Call Sheet 21stNov.pdf
File:VCA Plot.pdf
File:Master Mic Snow Queen .docx
File:Cue Light and Comms sheet.docx


Title Of Something

And Some Information



SQthrone5.jpg SQcastle.jpg

A selection of photos of the build and production period of Snow Queen

Further photos can be found at...