Thursday, January 07, 2010

vision 2010: part 2

[pre new year's part 1, happy merry death of development]

the other day i performed @ the new building by the savannah, apparently called the national academy for the performing arts (napa) in spite of a lack of students, programme or full teaching staff.
even knowing in advance how little function was being considered (no theatre consultant hired for the project, apparently the pm pm* could handle dem ting heself) i was shocked+appalled at what we being told is "state of the art" and how our $ wasting. weeks later, this still raw enough for me that this post will simply list what i know as simply as i can say it. the only effort i make at wordsmithing here is to ensure that i don't defeat my purpose by sounding like a lunatic to be disregarded.
so lewwe start by remembering that the pm pm forced the building open before it was ready (felt like a weird rape allusion once written but i leavin' it) against the recommendation/request of those building it and those intended to use it, and that my complaints are within the context of unanswered questions about whether we need a 1,200-1,500 seat theatre when local theatres barely fill queens hall (capacity inside 800) after barely affording the rental there and why it should be administrated by qh rather than trying something different to address any of the myriad regularly occurring problems working in that space. (regarding capacity, i was told in the earlies that there would be a secondary, smaller performance space in the new building, ideally a black box, but never discovered one when i was on the premises.) right:
1. yay, designated rehearsal rooms, but concrete-floored dance spaces (all that i saw) hurt dancers, destroying not just our bodies but the very joy of leaping and heights possible (utt students wouldn't last a semester dancing on concrete floors every day); triangle- and kidney-shaped rooms aren't very versatile or functional (few stages are shaped that way); ballet-barre+mirrors mounted on the same wall with no other mirrored walls, also not very helpful.
2. dressing rooms are much more user+production-friendly with bathrooms (including showers) in them or at least adjacent+connected; need soap-dispensation and garbage receptacles; need monitors so that cast members can hear onstage and stage management (the further away dressingrooms are the more important this is and same applies to distant bathrooms, plus stairs en route between stage+dressingrooms should be avoided wherever possible; our dressingroom with none of these basics was up 3flights of stairs from the stage with toilets down the hall and showers up another floor that smelled like urine on approach).
3. backstage+house aren't physically connected so any entrances/exits through the audience force performers to cross the proscenium/curtain coming+going. very limiting.
4. the space doesn't have a soundboard or cyc so sound+lights are somehow expected to make magic without the basic tools of their trade, and techies say in-house lighting equipment way behind what's available @ the refurbished qh; "state of the art"? i performed with a curry-yellow accordion-pleated upstage curtain and green velvet legs for wings not slanted to minimise audience-backstage sightlines (was told upon inquiry there's a seamed white backdrop; still not a cyclorama; could you imagine asking lights to create a skyscape on a curry-yellow accordion-pleated curtain?).
5. the slipstage is terrible for dance but they don't have marley to fit the floor yet; if we had a performers' union we wouldn't have danced 'cause the slipstage-function requires horizontal+vertical half-inch grooves crisscrossing the stage big enough to break a toe in, which meet at rounded-away corners to form holes big enough to break a foot in, interspersed with raised metal plates for equipment plug-ins on the floor (which isn't sprung and feels only slightly better than concrete, especially without marley; post-performance i was bruised in delicate places).
6. said slipstage should have sensors; right now, if the stage set in motion and you miss the warning, it cutting you down and running you over.
7. wireless headset/p.a. communication amongst stage management, control booths, board ops, and followspot-ops is necessary to cover all crew and backstage+dressingrooms. this is how we run shows. not optional.
8. theatre on this scale needs a loading dock. not optional.
9. water fountains/coolers/and/or some sort of vending needed, preferably with caffeine available, but at least water (water not optional).
10. saw absolutely no onsite storage for set pieces, costumes, props, etc. or real shop space+equipment for set construction.
11. couldn't find a box office.
12. highly counterintuitive seat numbering; instead of rows starting with seat#1 on the end, #1's in the middle of the row with 2 and 3 on either side then 4 and 5 on either side
(ie. 9 7 5 3 1 2 4 6 8) so the only consecutive numbers that are consecutive seats are 1+2, plus the rows are numbered not lettered so a seat will be "9 9" instead of "i 9".
13. didn't see proper onstage+backstage worklight.
i suppose they could have pan concerts and bring in big broadway/foreign shows but we shouldn't have to import arts+entertainment, plus the building have no loading dock for pan racks or anything on the scale of aida or bollywood dreams anyway, so...where i findin' $2million to finish the little carib?
walk good.

ps: example of the lack of thought of function, there's a massive dressingroom with an exterior wall of glass, not-really-shielded by a nearly-transparent curtain; the glass wall is backed by an outdoor water feature with a bridge to encourage gazing, designed such that the bridge directs audience to look @ the water feature with the glass dressingroom as backdrop...

*everytime i type "pm pm" i tempted to call him a pummpumm one time and done, but he so not worthy of such a glorious appellation...

2 Comments:

Blogger crazyfool said...

so... no one consulted anyone who know a lick about theatre before building such a space? what the fuck?

6:27 pm  
Anonymous zed said...

well i work for a big production, in the west end, and if we dont have water in stage areas, we dont go onstage, so no big production coming down there, actually they bring water to wherever we are rehearing also... i coming to see for myself, see if you could organise a tour nah !!!

9:52 am  

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