As a director, I am accustomed to direct contact with the production team, and staff in which I collaborate.
The collaborative process is time-consuming, yet has proven to be most rewarding.
Designers should be prepared, flexible, creative, collaborative, and able to problem-solve.
During times in which the university is in session, it is courteous and customary to receive a response via email within 24 hours.
Note: In extreme circumstances, I am available via university approved holidays and extended breaks. During holiday periods (with persons open to communicating via an approved break), per a courtesy, it is customary to receive a response from collaborators and team members within a minimum of 48 hours and a maximum of 72 hours. Likewise, as a courtesy, please extend the same extended time-frame to the persons in which you work.
E-mail is the best way to get in contact with me. Please schedule and confirm all individual meetings via email. Due to the inconsistent cellular coverage, text and cellular phone calls are reserved for emergencies only. If you do not reach me via cellular, please contact me via email.
Please view the Ithaca College Designer/Technical Guidelines below to peruse an example of how to embark upon the collaborative process. The guidelines below are a strong springboard in which to begin.
Source - Ithaca College
For purposes of expediency in this document, “the director” refers equally to a singular director as well as to a “directing team” on a musical/opera – i.e. director/choreographer/music director.
Each show will have its own Sakai site, and all associated design/production members will be granted access. All of the designers most be proactive in posting their research, sketches, draftings, model photos, etc. to the Sakai site, so that everyone involved in the production (from the creative team, to the mentors, to the shops) can easily access the information necessary for them to do their jobs. This can mean posting several times per week, not just posting five minutes before one of the formal design meetings. Only the most recent revisions of all files should be kept on Sakai and all previous versions should be removed to prevent confusion. If other file sharing methods are used, the same information should also be posted on Sakai.
Each production is assigned a design process mentor by the TPA faculty/staff. These assignments can be found on the production assignment grid. This mentor is a design faculty member who facilitates the design process described below. The design process mentor initiates the process, attends and runs each formal design meeting, and acts as liaison to the TPA area. Each student designer also has a faculty design advisor in his/her design field (scenic, costume, lighting, or sound). This advisor will be involved in the design process in a variety of ways, and at a variety of times, depending upon the nature of the project, and the needs of the student designer.
These formalized meetings are intended to provide snapshots that allow everyone to keep up-to-date as the design process evolves. As such, they are not the only meetings that should take place between the director and designers. Outside meetings (labeled INTERIM herein) with various sub-groups of the production team will be necessary and it is up to the director and designers to schedule those INTERIM meetings. It is imperative to keep the design process mentor in the loop about these meeting times and outcomes in order to keep the TPA area informed. All of the designers should have ongoing discussions with each other throughout the entire design process so that everyone is aware of the evolution of the designs, the designs are interrelated and integrated, and all of the designs are working together to tell a united story.
Meeting 1 – DIRECTOR’S ANALYSIS AND FIRST THOUGHTS – week 0
The expectation for this meeting is that all designers have thoroughly read/listened to the materials (script, libretto, score, recordings as applicable), are familiar with the dramaturgical baseline of the piece, and come ready to talk and ask questions about the show. At this meeting, the director will share his/her detailed analysis of the piece, identify major themes, and highlight their personal resonances with the text/music. For the designers, a list of questions for the director is expected, as well as concrete thoughts about the piece’s structure, themes, and meaning.
INTERIM – All designers meet with the director (as individuals or in sub-groups) to further explore the ideas presented in Meeting 1 and have deeper conversations about the story, basic staging needs, and overall aesthetic, as well as sharing their initial research.
Meeting 2 – RESEARCH & INITIAL APPROACHES (1 week after Meeting 1) – week 1
The expectation for this meeting is that all of the designers and the director will share their progress from their INTERIM meeting(s) and that the group will respond. This meeting is predominately geared toward scenery and costumes; however, lighting and sound designers should be proactive, sharing their ideas and research as well. The costume designer is expected to have a rough costume plot with copies to distribute as appropriate. The scenic designer should have a list of major elements/necessities derived from the text and from their interim conversation(s) with the director. All of these materials should also be posted on the Sakai site as a single file for each designer that combines all of their research and ideas, rather than a large collection of individual files.
INTERIM – Individually or together, the scenic and costume designers meet with the director (a minimum of once; more is recommended) in order to share preliminary sketch ideas of set and costumes that move toward a more cohesive design. The costume designer meets with the director to talk about micro (specific character) and macro (thematic as well as things like the use of the ensemble) choices that begin to define a vocabulary for the show, as well as talking through a rough costume plot. The sound designer meets with the director to share sound examples and begin to develop an aural palette.
Meeting 3 – ROUGH DESIGNS (2 weeks AFTER Meeting 2) – week 3
The expectation for this meeting is that the scenic and costume designer will share rough designs which are supported by additional research. For scenery this should include a rough model and ground plan (or others documentary items as detailed by the student’s design advisor or the design process mentor). For the costume designer this should include rough sketches and visual research that begins to focus the design, as well as specific character and color palette choices. Sound designers will present examples of sound/music ideas as appropriate. The entire collaborative team will respond to and further shape these ideas.
INTERIM – Shortly following meeting 3, the creative team meets with the director to talk through the show event by event. This will allow the scenic designer to begin to develop scene-by-scene ground plans, and the lighting and sound designers to better understand the structure of the piece. The costume designer and director should meet and begin making choices which are character-specific, and talk through the costume plot, making decisions which make the plot more specific.
Meeting 4 – REFINED DESIGNS (2 weeks after Meeting 3) – week 5
The expectation for this meeting is that all designers will share their current progress. In particular, the scenic designer has refined the roughs into a preliminary draft and more refined model that is presented to the director and design team for their response. Depending on the response, ongoing revisions, or perhaps a major change in approach, may be necessary. The costume designer should present specific sketches and corresponding research for all the costumes in the show and a well-developed costume plot.
INTERIM – The designers and director meet to make changes to the designs and to ensure that well-developed, thorough, and unified designs will be presented in meeting 5. Since changes in one design will likely affect other areas, the director and all designers should be aware of, and have the opportunity to adapt their designs to, all the changes before they are presented to the wider group during meeting 5.
Meeting 5 – FIRST LOOK (1 week after Meeting 4) – week 6
The expectation for this meeting is that the designers will present refined ideas so that the production staff and the directors of artistic programming and production can comment on the general feasibility/appropriateness of the designs.
The scenic designer will present a basic drafting package (i.e. ground plan(s), initial draft of all major scenic elements, and a section-view), a white model with basic scenic art info or a rough color model, as well as basic properties/furniture info. The costume designer will present specific visual research or a sketch for each character with a complete costume plot. The lighting and sound designers will present any ideas that may require unusual technologies or that have the potential to exceed standard resources.
INTERIM – The designers will meet with the respective shops to discuss the scope and feasibility of the designs presented in Meeting 5. The scenic designer will meet with the TD, prop shop supervisor, faculty scenic artist, scene design advisor, and appropriate associated students. The costume designer will meet with the costume shop supervisor and costume design advisor. The lighting and sound designers will meet with the lighting and sound supervisor and their respective advisors.
The TD, costume shop supervisor, and lighting and sound supervisor will budget the proposed designs and inform the designers whether or not the current designs can be produced within available resources. If they cannot be produced within available resources, the designers will work with the director, design advisors, and production staff to revise the designs. These revisions should be shared with the director and the entire design team no later than one week before Meeting 6, in case revisions in one design necessitate changes in other designs.
Meeting 6 – FINAL PRESENTATIONS AND HANDOFFS (2 weeks after Meeting 5) – week 8
The expectation for this meeting is that completed scenic draftings (including scene by scene groundplans with furniture placement) and a color model (from the scene designer); finished costume renderings and plot (from the costume designer); and preliminary sound cue sheets and a sources list (from the sound designer) will be presented to the director and the full design team. All of these documents should also be posted on Sakai. All previous versions of these documents should be removed from Sakai to avoid confusion.
Additional Scenic Deadline:
Following Meeting 6, the scenic designer will, under the advisement of the production staff and the scene design adviser, make a firm schedule for completion of the final prop packet and scenic art elevations.
PRE-PRODUCTION MEETING (typically one week after meeting 6)
At this meeting the director will talk to the full production team about the show, and the approach. The designers will present their completed [and approved] designs to the entire production staff. Scenic designers will present their design via model, research, and drawings. Costume designers will present their design via color renderings and research. Costume designers frequently use a .ppt for their presentation. Lighting and sound designers will present their approach to the production, which may take a variety of forms. (See Sound Design and Lighting Design Process section in the handbook for a complete set of expectations for those disciplines).
DESIGN PRESENTATIONS: FIRST REHEARSAL
Design presentations typically occur during the first rehearsal for the actors. All designers will present their finalized designs to the cast, full stage management team, and representatives from the TAM area. Costume designers frequently use a .ppt for their presentation. It is mandatory that all designers be present at this meeting.
Industrial Magic - A Playful, yet Competitive Game in a “1912 Industrial Iowan Factory”
- Moving pieces
1906 - 1912
1906 is the year in which the factory building was constructed. Hence, aesthetically, we are exploring a time in which architecturally, the building foundation is built in the world of the early 1900s.
Sleep Tite opened in 1912, hence all of the factory equipment is pulled from the years 1900 - 1930. Note: The owners are miserly, and rarely make upgrades.
Note: Architecturally, I do not want to deviate from the time-period in terms of aesthetics. In terms of function and purpose, I would like to explore the concept of “industrial magic.”
- Hard, Sharp, Cold, Fast, Unsympathetic, Bruising, Purposeful, Unyielding, Smart, Problem-solver, Magic (Moving Parts), Engineering, vibrant
The environment of THE PAJAMA GAME is a factory built in 1906 in a small town in Iowa. Per Richard Bissel’s book 7 1/2 CENTS, The original Action Knee Plant Co. closed in 1911. It was purchased and converted into Sleep Tite in 1912.
In THE PAJAMA GAME, the location changes often. There are 20 scenes we will explore during the musical’s run. With the required multipurpose set, it is of value to first establish the aesthetic production frame. The frame, or backdrop of a THE PAJAMA GAME is the paradigm in which all other interactions (office, union meeting, Hernando’s Hideaway, elevator, etc.) will take place. In moving forward, it may be of value to think of the “environment backdrop” as the “unit” of the multipurpose set.
Think of the required scenes and locations as moving parts, yet the unit base should remain the same. This skeleton backdrop should be discussed with the production team before inserting the integral requirements of select scenes in Act 1 and Act 2.
The Backdrop/ Frame requirements of THE PAJAMA GAME:
- Provides opportunity for effective transitions. Should have entrances from as many places feasible. CS, USR, DSR, USL, DSL, SR, SL,etc.
- Tie into the production concept - hence "industrial magic, purposeful, intimate, expansive, realistic, hard, cold, etc."
- Include built in tormentors
- Include one window seat - window seat could be an extension of brick from the wall, hence hidden in plain sight. It could also be a stand alone unit that enters and exit.
Should use the downstage, middle, and upstage planes to accommodate various locations: Factory, Office, Hernando’s Hideaway, Kitchen, Picnic, Elevator,etc.
If approved by the lighting designer, it should be able to reflect gobos. Please view the examples below:
Projected phrases and images on the Upstage Windows
- The Pajama Game (projected forward at the top of Act I and Act II - uses font and/or image from poster)
- Sleep Tite Pajama Factory - the Pajama for Men of Bedroom Discrimination - (projected backwards or using a rear projector)
Projected on Floor:
- Images of BABE and GLADYS. (2 separate images) -
I would also like to explore a Stage Right OR Stage Left platform in which Gladys would stand during the song, I’LL NEVER BE JEALOUS AGAIN.
Projected on Curtain (top of Act II):
- Eagles Hall - doctored eagle emblem projected on the performance curtains at the top of Act II. Note: To assist in the transition, The Union meeting members will bring in individual chair units and create rows facing upstage of the center audience.
- trees during the picnic sequence
During the picnic scene, it would be of value to have foliage in the upstage planes.
- window gobos - (see the shadows below).
* Upstage Window Unit -
Industrial Magic Vision:
Imagine an upstage wall/window unit that extends from stage left to stage right. It extends past the visual vantage points of the audience. Hence, as far as the audience can see, it will provide an illusion of a massive factory environment.
Incorporate industrial magic -
With the illusion of one large window/ wall unit, what if we had multiple entry points that are revealed throughout the journey of the musical? This could feed into the “hidden in plain sight” concept.
* ORCHESTRA: The window/wall unit could slide/rise to reveal the complete orchestra for the overture. (Please see examples below in the slideshow below)
* ORCHESTRA: PRACTICAL - A window could open to reveal the conductor - this is a strong request from the the music collaborators to prevent phrasing problems.
* ENTRANCES & EXITS: Doorways could be hidden within the window unit perhaps stage left, stage right, and CS. Hence, large panels could open upstage the width of a large doorway -- 36 inches minimum. (Please see examples below in the slideshow below)
TRANSITIONS: PICNIC - Doors could open vertically, similar to barn doors for the picnic scene. (Please see slideshow above)
* PICNIC CROSSOVER: a.) variant windows could open around the 5ft to 6ft range upstage to reveal the crossover (please see director for clarification) b.) as an alternative, we could also explore upstage blocking options using lighting as the key player. Please see the director for clarification
* Lighting fixtures:
To create an immersive experience for the audience, consider adding lighting fixtures from several pajama factories to the design. Please peruse the slideshow below to peruse lighting fixtures and alternatives. Note: to advance the slide, please click the arrow on the right.
Proscenium Vs. Thrust
The thrust stage space enables designers to incorporate a proscenium-thrust design. Hence, the upstage areas can accommodate large scenic elements and backdrops without any obstructions to audiences’ sight lines. In addition to the proscenium structure, however, it is imperative to consider the area downstage as well.
The acting areas for intimate scenes such as: The Office, the Bedroom Sequence, the Union Meeting, the Kitchen Sequences, and portions of the factory should reside downstage.
The upstage areas would be used for the picnic sequence, the picnic transition, Hernando’s Hideaway, and for secondary sequences during primary scenes.
I DO NOT want to explore:
1. Fabric walls
2. Any elevated units in front of the glass wall units that obstructs the aesthetic industrial feel. Note: Industrial can mean different things for different people. Please click the link to view the research images that I found useful.
3. An upstage office space
4. Any major scenes upstage
5. Multipurpose tables (too general and undefined)
With the levels you have shown a great interest in adding, please look at the image below. It is set in a cigar factory. - There are three doors for entrances and exits. - There are also multiple slates in which the tobacco leaves (shown in the picture) can breathe. Notably, there is a step unit and platform stage left (in which an actor is standing.) To incorporate the level you desire, it could be valuable to explore a unit similar to the stage left example. Note: The step unit could lead to the upstairs office unit.
Please consider masking requirements in the design. As an audience members, I do not want to see into hallways, view crew members, portions of quick changes, or see action that does not apply to the world of the play.
Consider the grid, the balcony, and all of the entry ways in the space. To add to the immersive experience, could we have a series of laundry baskets or racks of pajamas and Sleep Tite pajamas in the main hallway? Could we add sliding barn doors to the stage left and stage right door units?
Lighting Inspiration -
Please advance brief slideshow below
In lieu of monetary funds, we will give a free ticket to each person who brings pajamas to the theatre.
During the Pre-show:
- There is a poster in the lobby giving information about the local “pajama community service program” with detailed information about donating.
- There are 2-3 workers on each of the entrances holding strike signs.
- There is sign on House Right saying: Workers Entrance Only
- There is a period sewing machine, and a dress form in the lobby with a worker completing an alteration.
- Sound Curtains in the theatre are opened on House Left and House Right revealing hooks for workers to hang their coats, place their bags. etc. If a locker is available, workers can put their things in the lockers. Note: The sound curtains will be closed before the overture.
- 2 men enter with a toolbox and a flashlight. They enter House Left and X USL. They look to service one of the sewing machines. Once completed, they reenter via the third level (the grid). They climb up, look around for a few seconds, have a small conversation, then exit.
- Two workers are in the lobby carrying handbills advertising the Union Meeting in Eagle Hall.
- There are several (2-3) picket signs resting near the house left entrance.
- A time-stamp is available via the House Left entrance. Workers are gathered around stamping their time cards. They carry lunch boxes, hats, purses, light jackets, keys, etc.
Take a fun break Wish list
Vintage coke machine in the lobby (or on the third level SR).
Audience enters the theatre House Left. When they enter the space, they see:
1. A clean, open industrial space with a projected gobo featuring the phrase THE PAJAMA GAME visible on the upstage factory unit. All window units are closed. The orchestra is not seen.
Note: For unity, The Pajama Game wording and accompanying image should come from the official advertising poster.
2. Four Sewing dress forms on the USL balcony
3. Large Spools of fabric and a 2 cutting tables balcony USR.
4. Industrial Laundry baskets - 1 balcony SL and 2 balcony SR
Will have 3 additional laundry baskets to be used in the factory scenes. Note: 1 laundry bin will be placed in the box office to collect donated pajamas. Additionally, one of the laundry bins should be outfitted with a seat for Babe to sit on and ride. The bins should have variant looks. Please view the slideshow below:
Lights to Half
- Factory workers close curtains on walls in theatre House Left and House Right
- Hidden factory "window" opens to reveal conductor in a spot-light
- Overture begins
- Hidden wall/window unit opens to reveal the full orchestra
The factory scene is designed to be multifaceted.
I would like to integrate portions of the activities below in the blocking. Hence, it could be of value to consider mobility options. i.e. units on rollers, entry points, etc.
Question: How many crew members will we have? I would like to put them in costumes.
Cutting table and sewing machines
Tables (in the center aisle)
Thread cutting station
See bundles on the table (above) from the cutting room
Consider transferring boxes i.e. from stage right to stage left
The boxes can hitch a ride to transport boxes through the factory!