Sunday, July 22, 2007

puffed sleeves

I haven't worked in the prop shop in a week. Now that all the shows are open that gig seems to be over--notes and repairs are now to be taken care of by the union guys. I'm more than a little miffed--that means my job from here on out includes little more than cleaning the opera house, answering phones, driving people around, and wearing my adorable little uniform with the high collar and puffed sleeves to usher elderly, feeble, angry, cantankerous, foul-smelling, wealthy patrons around. This place is like a historic, tradition-rich, chandelier-studded day care center.

Starting Linebacker for the 1876 Central City Opera Powder Puff Football Team

Because what outfit is complete without a sewn-on broach and a visible hook and eye closure? The flap conceals over 20 tiny, fiddly snaps.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I feel like me again.

Congratulations, Kent Uni graduates! Get a job! Get a haircut! The fun's over!

Props update: today i "blinged" handbags for our quasi-modern production of Cendrillon, which opens Saturday. The idea behind these is there are 4 "modistes" who come in to dress the Stepsisters, and their image is 19th century Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. I just work here, folks.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Quirky Old Houses

This morning (okay, afternoon, but its my only day off, gimme a break) I was rudely awoken by all of the doors on my floor of the house suddenly blowing open. Seeing as three of the seven doors on this floor lead to my room--hallway, kitchen, and cellar (i'm pretty sure this room was originally intended to be a kitchenette) --it came as a bit of a nasty shock. Particularly the cellar bit. There's nothing quite like waking up and seeing immediately into the gaping black maw of your own personal portal to the underworld. Not that i've got a George Denbrough-esque terror of cellars. Its just a bit daunting when that's the first thing you see upon being snapped out of a delightful 12-hour reverie by the sound and feeling of your house landing in Oz.

Now, none of the doors in my room actually latch. Typically they stay closed fine when you wedge them real good into their frames, but you don't have to turn the knobs for access. Occasionally someone in the kitchen will bump one open with the refrigerator door if they let it swing free, and stepping in just the right place in the hall with just the right amount of weight will release the other one. Naturally, the cellar door opens whenever the spirit moves it. I'm generally okay with this, as they can all be explained by natural pheonmena. (weight, impact, ghosts) But what boggles the mind is when the front and back doors open spontaneously, as both latch securely. The front door in particular can only be opened from outside with a key. It is possible that it was not actually closed this morning, and when the wind picked up it just swung and banged into the wall, but the back door needs some explaining. Nobody uses it. After I closed it, i tried bumping and pulling and shimmying it about to get it to overcome its latch, but to no avail. It's one firmly-closed door.

So i guess the only thing it could possibly be is the house felt stuffy and opted to get some fresh air. I figure, once a house gets to being about 130 years old, it can make that call for itself.

Monday, July 02, 2007

power tools

Working around unions is frustrating when you are not a member. Certain divisions are lain out in my workplace to ensure that the union members are able to do all of the work they are entitled to, which of course means that non-members get the dregs, basically, of their task list. In the central city props department, there are 3 union workers and 3 non-union. The union guys work in the opera house itself while the rest of us work up the street a ways in a small room filled with furniture and fake flowers. The idea is they do the big jobs--furniture construction, major upholstery, welding and major repairs, in addition to running shows--while we do the smaller jobs--hand-prop construction, minor upholstery, minor repairs, flower arrangements and the like. I'm okay with that division most of the time--though i'd love to get my hands back on a welder--but the irksome part is the means we have of doing our light-duty work.

The small props shop does not have access to or license to use large scale power tools. While we have no real need for table and band saws as we're not building furniture or scenery, when push comes to shove it'd be a real asset to have a portable compound-miter saw off in a corner somewhere in our shop. Hand saws, macho as they may look, are the most inefficient tools for achieving small cuts besides perhaps spoons. Moreover, when you're cutting things like dowels and flag poles, no matter how well you clamp that somebitch to the table, your hand cut is going to go wonky somehow and look rough. When we need a cut to look nice, we have to take the project down the hill, hand it to a union guy, show him the mark or measurement, and let him take it inside to cut it. Nope--we can't even just run down the hill and borrow their tools.

I'm sure folks who've worked within or around unions before are quite used to this, but as a neophyte in the whole union-house business this came as a distinct frustration. My progress is impeded--A 20-second job takes 15 minutes around here in order to maintain the integrity of the union contract. That's a waste of everyone's time, particularly under the time crunch of summer stock. I understand the usefulness of labor unions--particularly in theatre where there's never enough money to go around and everybody wants to cut corners, resulting in the desirability of slave laborers (*ahem*interns) and the inability of unrepresented workers to make a living wage--but you've got to cut the rest of us a little slack. Afford us the tools we need to do our jobs too.

In other news, i have grey feet today after an afternoon painting a floor with a push broom.