Day 1 Complaining…Doctor in 2 days.

I’m at a complete loss of what to write tonight.  I’ve been working on the posts that I’m going to be doing next week, and that’s taken so long I haven’t had the chance to figure out what I’m going to post tonight.

Maybe I’ll bitch for a moment.  When in doubt complaining is always a good way to go.

My designs for the first three shows I’m designing this summer are due in 12 days on May 26th.  The due date is actually almost two weeks later than it was originally requested.  I was asked to turn them in on Friday, May 16th.  I laughed and asked them to set a date that was a little more realistic.  The due date is set by the IATSE crew that I will be working with.  I’ve worked with IATSE crews in Kentucky, Ohio, San Diego, New York, and Oklahoma.  By far the worst and most incompetent crew ever, even worse than the 14 year olds I used to work with, is the crew in Oklahoma.  They are simply miserable human beings and they get out of bed in the morning and get excited for the day by knowing they’ll make everyone around them miserable.  I knew they were bad before I got there last year, but the preparation I had, wasn’t even close to what I got.  They were jerks, asshole, lazy and just stupid.  Their work ethic is unlike any I’ve ever seen and it’s amazing to me that no one has been killed or seriously injured because of their work.

So the head guy, we’ll call him John.  Is actually a nice guy and is okay.  But just like in all situations, the boss sits in the big office upstairs and his minions do the work for him.  This year our go to guy, we’ll call him Buddy, is one of the biggest asses I’ve ever met.  He spoke to me once last year and I told our guy that he was to keep Buddy away from me or else I was leaving.  He must of done something because Buddy never approached me again.  So Buddy is the one who set this date for my plot to be due.  I personally think he pulled the date out of his ass, but that’s just my opinion.  The point is, I kind of have to play by their rules.

So my plot is due on May 26th.  Which is a holiday of course, and god knows they won’t be working on a national holiday.  To do my plans I have to have to know what the scenery looks like.  I have to know what the decking looks like.  Is it all one level?  Is it multiple levels?  Is it raked (slopes up)?  If it is multiple levels, how tall are the levels?  What color is the floor?  Is it painted?  It is black?  Is it red?  And that’s just the floor.  I then have to know about the vertical scenery.  Are there curtains?  Are there walls?  Are there panels?  Are there trees?  Are their pirate ships?  Are there pyramids?  Are there big cows?  Are there giant books?  Are there pie shops?  Are there columns?  Are there ________________?  Are there __________________? You get the point I need to know this stuff.

So for me to get to work, I need to know all of this information.  Not only do I need to know this information but I need to have technical drawings of all of these things so that I can know how big, where they hang, the texutre, the thickness, etc.  These are all things I must know to light the scenery effectively.  And this is all just to light the scenery.  We haven’t even started to light the actors yet.

I put all of this information together and then start figuring out where all the lights go.  On a Broadway show, this might take a month or more, just to figure out where all the lights go.  Smaller shows of course take less time, but as with anything the more time you have the better.  And once you have all of this figured out, it then takes several more days to get it drafted in the computer, proof it ten times and get it mailed off to the theatre.  And this leads me to my point.

My design/drawings are due on May 26th.  12 days from right now.  And guess how much of the information that I need that I have?  Yeap, you are right.  Absolutely none of it.  Nada.  Zip.  Nothing.  I’ve been asking for the drawings of the scenery for more than two weeks, to no avail.  No one seems to care.  No one seems to be doing anything about it.  Of course a couple of days ago I found out what the problem was.  Seems the scenery designer has not committed any of the plans to paper.  She kind of know what they look like.  And she’s described it to the director.  But that’s as far as it’s gotten.  As of today, no one has seen any of the plans that they need.  And I’m not the only one waiting.  The stage manager needs the plans so she can tape out the floor so the director knows where the actors can stand.  The tech director needs the plans so he might…you know…build the fucking set.

It’s insane that there are no drawings.  I mean everyone gets behind but her drawings were due more than a month ago.  It’s also amazing to me that she teaches scenery design at the local university.  How the fuck does she expect her students to turn in their work in a timely manner when they know she doesn’t?  And yet she’s tenured and I can’t get a teaching job.  What kind of justice is that?

So I’m sending a snarky email tomorrow.  Let me know if it’s too snarky.

Hi all,

I’m a little concerned that I have not received any of the scenery drawings for this year’s shows.  My plot is due in 12 days and as of yet I have been unable to start it.  I’m worried that if I don’t get them soon I’m going to be unable to meet the deadline (almost two weeks before we load-in) that has been set by the crew.  It is already a challenge to deal with them and they are not the most understanding, so to start the season off by “pissing” them off is probably not the best idea.

That being said, I need to get the drawings.  I need Vectorworks or AutoCad drawings  just to get started figuring out what the season is going to look like.  I need a full ground plan, that details the basics as well as the different configurations for each show.  I know that there is a large disc center stage, but I don’t know it’s size or location.  I also understand that it breaks apart and moves.  I need each location it moves to, and it would be nice to know when.  I also need a full set of elevation drawings to know what the vertical scenery looks like and exactly where it hangs.  I can wait to choose color but the sooner I know the color palette the better.

I’m also concerned there have been no discussions to the lineset schedule and my lighting needs. I’ve discovered that the lineset schedule that the theatre provides is not consistent with the drawings they have provided.

My needs are as follows:

Electric #1    Lineset #9
Electric #2    Lineset #15
Electric #3    Lineset #20
Electric #4    Lineset #27
Electric #5    Lineset #33
Electric #7    Lineset #55

I also need space between #5 and #7 for at least one electric if not two, depending on how far upstage we are playing and what the set looks like.

I also need to know masking placement.  The masking has changed over the last couple of years so I need to know placement of legs and trim on borders.

I also need to know if there is room to add 3 booms each side of the stage just upstage of the legs.  I did this last year and it was a huge benefit to the design.  A problem I ran into last year was that I didn’t know that there were large pieces of scenery that traveled on and off stage and there needed to be room to store these things off stage.

I also understand that there are  step ladders in the third show.  I need to know how tall these ladders are, where they are positioned on the stage and if they move.  Last year’s last show was a challenge because I had to light up to down stage on three levels.  It’s possible to do this, but I need to know while in the design process.

I need to know if we are using the cyc for all three shows and if not then what shows we are using the blackout drop for.

I’ve discussed with the director the possible need for a moon box that can be used perhaps in all three shows but definitely in third show.  However, I need to know if it fits with the scope of the design and then how we make it work and look real.

I need to know if the special effects in the third show are done by lighting.  If not are they sound effects or pyrotechnics, etc.  If it’s my responsibility then I need to know that while figuring out the plot.

These are all the things that I need just to get started.  In 12 days I need to figure out what the scenery is, how each show relates to it.  I also need to figure out the lighting for the space, the lighting for the scenery and the needs for each show based on conversations I’ve had with the director.  And then the fun part, I need to draft the show, proof it, and be ready to send it to the theatre along with all the Lightwright by May 26th.  At a minimum my design proces usually takes two weeks and that’s rushing it.  Anything less than two weeks start to infringe upon my ability to provide an ample design, let alone try to create shows that are interesting and creative.

I would appreciate it if I could get the drawings as soon as possible.  I need to get started on this project VERY soon if I’m to meet my deadline and have a design that I can be proud of.

Thanks for your attention,


This is the letter.  I personally don’t think it’s too snarky but I’ve been told that my idea of snarky and a realistic version of snarky are very different.  The issue is that I am trying to make a point.  They have to provide this information so that I can do my job.  And if they wait too much longer it’s going to be a disaster.  Even if I don’t sit down and actually start using my pencil tomorrow, I need time to think, time to digest what I need.  And don’t forget, I’m supposed to be creating art.  There’s nothing worse than creating art on someone else deadline for people that won’t tell you what they want or what color it’s supposed to be.

And that’s my complaining for the day.  Let me know what you think.

6 thoughts on “Day 1 Complaining…Doctor in 2 days.

  1. Lemuel May 14, 2008 / 05:06

    My own first impression is that it is not snarky at all. It is blunt and to the point of outlining exactly what you need, when you need it, and why you need it.

  2. Mike May 14, 2008 / 05:45

    Needs more snark. Include a proposed plot done without all of the information.

    Draw a stage with a lamp on it. Bare light bulb, no shade.

  3. Sarah May 14, 2008 / 08:16

    The only part I would change is:

    ‘It is already a challenge to deal with them and they are not the most understanding, so to start the season off by “pissing” them off is probably not the best idea.’

    You are complaining about the scenery designer, right? If you make a “snarky” remark about the crew, you might be the one who is seen as having a “people problem.” Change it to:

    “I’d rather not start the season by “pissing” them off.”

    That way it looks like you are concerned about the crew’s needs and the scenery designer isn’t. You will have plenty of other chances to complain about the crew but this isn’t the time.

  4. Bill May 14, 2008 / 21:41

    First of all, I really enjoy reading your posts explaining the amount of preparation and hard work it takes to launch a successful show. Most patrons would have no idea.
    I would consider changing your opening sentence from “I’m a little concerned that I have not received any of the scenery drawings for this year’s shows” to “I’m very concerned…”
    I would eliminate the “pissing off” part altogether. You’re going to have to work with these people, so think about “This year, I would like to have a mutually accomodating, professional relationship with the crew so that we may work together efficiently. To make this posiible I require…”
    Clearly, you are the professional here, so I would state what you need with associated deadlines for each item.
    I’d also send a copy of your email to the director, department chair, stage manager, craft services, convenience store manager, Diet Coke distributor, mayor, US president, and your senator. Make sure everyone is informed, so that when things start to unravel you can refer back to your list of requirements.
    Okay, you asked, and here’s my two-cents worth. And that’s about all it’s worth, too.
    Good luck with the doctor visit!

  5. Rick May 15, 2008 / 04:40

    I agree with the “pissing off” section. I think it is a little too snarky and too much complaining. But that’s me: I get more bees with honey than with vinegar. Then again I’m comparing to the business world. Artists are different…much more emotional.

  6. Donnie May 15, 2008 / 11:13

    I don’t think it’s snarky at all. In fact, I’d probably be a bit more “passive-aggressive” in my email.

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