Friday, February 1, 2013

Behind the Music(al) :: Hairspray

Hello! Welcome to February and welcome to the season of my life that is always the Spring musical.

As I have previously shared, things have been very busy for me and this is due in large part to the fact that at this time of year I am in the throes of musical production work. Before I came to my current teaching position I had limited experience in this realm but even in that I enjoyed it very much. I really love most any of the fine arts and though I can't act or sing in front of an audience worth a darn and I much MUCH prefer to always be behind the scenes and/or the cameras, I still enjoy being a part of the arts that is dramatic and performance arts if I can help it. Thankfully, the Lord God knows this well of me and He has placed me in a position where I can fully experience it and really have the time of my life.

As things go in the time that I have been in my teaching job, I serve (basically) as the creative and visual artistic director/coordinator/consultant for most every stage production that my school does. My department head is actual a drama and theater teacher by training and she and I have developed a wonderful working relationship together in order to bring some of the awesome performance art productions to fruition.

At this point I have a very significant amount of experience helping in production with a pretty large amount of shows that my school has done where I have either helped to solely or collaboratively originate set designs, props, and sometimes even conceptualizing the actual direction (visually) of how a performance art piece will take and be presented/"packaged" - so exciting to be in this part of the production especially since basically I sometimes get to help decide how it will all be packaged!!! My experience so far includes the following stage productions:
  • Godspell
  • Diary of Anne Frank
  • Sound of Music
  • The Crucible
  • A handful of choral/band performances and student life events (like prom) that regularly occur every year and require design work for programs/printed materials
 Anyway, this year the Spring musical is HAIRSPRAY!!!! And as we say with nearly ever production that we do? This one is going to be bigger than everything we have ever done before.

Now, usually, I will present some portion (at least) of the set design and general production work of any of the performance art pieces I have had a stake in but this time? I figured I should do a bit of a blog series documenting how and what I do with all of this. I (of course) have no preconceived idea of how long it will go - meaning I have no clue how many installments there will be OR what the general schedule for posting them will be so it will seem very scattered at times - but there definitely WILL be an end date once the show premieres on March 1st. (Cannot believe it's less than a month away!!!)

Anyway, I am affectionately calling this series "Behind the Music(al)" as a play on that ol' documentary series on (the now defunct?) channel VH-1 called "Behind the music." And for today's behind the scenes look? I bring you the color picking process that I have been enduring!!!

For me, the color picking process is almost always the most fun stage of the pre-production and creative process.
Color picking is a HUGE deal for every show we do because my director, producer, and set building cohorts insist that I am better at doing this than any of them AND little to nothing can really happen unless we have the right colors to begin with. And so? One of the keys to kickstarting any production is me getting the colors picked.

The way it usually works is this:
  1. Have multiple conversations with director/producer(s) about what they are envisioning OR collaborate with them to establish a "vision" for what/how it should all look - especially if we (collectively) do not agree with the general ways that it has already been done by other either because we don't like it or just plain want to do something different.
  2. I will draft up and/or study all sorts of documentation - including pre-fab plans and images from my director that she bought the rights to use for us to even do the show to begin with, doing Google image searches of what other schools/performance companies have already done - and then from there I will usually always know the general palette that should end up being selected.
  3. I will physically go to local "super stores" of home improvement like Lowe's and/or Home Depot as well as looking at the prices and color palette offerings of theater set design/supplies companies like Roscoe brand theater paints. This allows me to collect prices (for budgeting purposes) and then also physically collect color swatches that can be given to the director, producer, set builders, and costuming crew so that everything is cohesive visually with color.
  4. All of the individuals above either approve or disapprove of what I have picked and it's either back to step one of the color picking  process or on with the rest of production!
It is a rare thing that I ever have to go back to step one from step four unless it's an issue of the directors/producers/set/costume folks decide (separate from me) that the vision we originally had will not work and the idea needs to be totally reworked. And if/when this sort of thing happens? Well, it's usually not during a time when the work I have done with color picking has even happened yet.

Anyway, I will be sharing other stuff (than this) with you all but just wanted to get some new content up here finally and also give you a peek at what is ahead and to come! It's good to be back and I will see you next week. *high five*

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