Author Topic: BLOCKING: Blocking notation and stage spikes for 2-level set  (Read 2688 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Places_Please

  • Tourist
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Hi all,

This might be a silly couple of questions, but I'm SM on a production of Noises Off, and it is a 2-level set. As is probably obvious, I need to spike the rehearsal space as soon as possible to ease blocking, but how could I go about this? The only thing I can think of is to set the second level behind the first with the stairs leading from the first level to the second level, but that's far from ideal.... could I possibly simply place different color spike tape directly next to each other to indicate the different levels? Like Blue for ground level, Red for the second level, would that read well? I'm still leaning towards the first option, simply because it could allow the actors to get a sense of how many steps they'll be ascending/descending, but I'm not sure if that is truly the best option, I'm concerned the actors would get used to going upstage and then be thrown off when we get the set and they have to climb stairs...

I'm also at a bit of a loss as to how I can notate the blocking. I'm pretty sure the method of simply putting the second level behind the first will work well for that, I just want to be sure-what do ya'll think?

BayAreaSM

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 410
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Bay Area SM
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Current Gig: Career Change out of SM'ing
  • Experience: Professional
Re: BLOCKING: Blocking notation and stage spikes for 2-level set
« Reply #1 on: Sep 15, 2012, 01:25 pm »
I have only worked on 2-level set once as an SM and once as an ASM.

When I SM'd, we had the TD build a mock-up level of our elevated platforms - not as high, but it helped the actors somewhat understand going up and downstairs and get a feeling for the multiple levels. Not sure if your company has the means to do that, but if they do, it's a big help!

As far as notating blocking, I'm a big person for labeling things with numbers: chairs, tables, entrances, etc. Depending on what is easy for you to understand, you could short hand it with L1 for your first floor and L2 for your second floor. I would label doors with D1, D2, etc. So if someone enters from the first door on the second level:
Joe Ent D1/L2.
Or something like that. It has to make sense to you - and once you find what you're comfortable with, create a key - perhaps just drawing on a reduction of your front elevation, so that someone else could read your blocking later, if need be. For myself, I'll refresh myself at the top of every blocking page with a little ground plan and put in my numbered chairs, entrances (with numbers to match my cue lights at those entrances), etc - so that I don't forget from page to page.

Also - check out our BTDT (link in the top right corner). I'm sure someone has done Noises Off on here and should be able to offer some advice if you message them.

Best of luck!
« Last Edit: Sep 16, 2012, 02:28 am by BayAreaSM »

Maribeth

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 975
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Professional
Re: BLOCKING: Blocking notation and stage spikes for 2-level set
« Reply #2 on: Sep 15, 2012, 02:38 pm »
In productions I have done with two levels we have taped the second level in a different color on top of the first level. On the first day of blocking I talk the actors through what is taped out (i.e. "there is a spiral staircase here- you have to make 2 complete circles to get to the second level. The SR door swings both directions but the SL door only swings towards offstage.") There are ways to indicate this with tape but I find that briefly talking through it clears up a lot of potential confusion.

If you have room in the rehearsal space to tape out the second level behind the first, that could work too. (Depending on the set- some sets that might prevent the director from seeing the actors on the second level, if there are folks on the first level). It might not be a bad idea to ask your director if he/she has a preference. The actors are going to have to get used to actually having stairs when you move to the theatre no matter what, so whichever option you go with, make sure that the actors are aware of the distance they need to travel and how to get there.

I'm also at a bit of a loss as to how I can notate the blocking. I'm pretty sure the method of simply putting the second level behind the first will work well for that, I just want to be sure-what do ya'll think?

That sounds like it would work fine- you should do what makes sense for you. I also use underlining to indicate blocking on a second level or platform. "Joe x DS" indicates that he's crossing downstage on a platform or level.

Beatr79

  • SM Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 119
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
Re: BLOCKING: Blocking notation and stage spikes for 2-level set
« Reply #3 on: Sep 15, 2012, 11:53 pm »
If your rehearsal room has the depth to, I would recommend taping the second floor US of the first floor.  I used this method on a show with a two-story set and it worked very well.  In fact, we had enough room to tape the 2nd floor US and SR of the first floor, so the director could see both sets of action at the same time.  Made for a few weird moments going up/down "stairs", but it was a compromise that was worth it.

If the two floors are taped one-on-top-of-the-other, how can you handle concurrent actions happening in the same floor space (i.e.: two actors talking on floor 1, while another actor enters through a door directly above them on floor 2)?  If the room is taped that way, the three actors would end up sharing space in the rehearsal hall that could make staging very difficult to visualize, or even actualize.   I'd  be curious to hear from anyone who has successfully rehearsed / staged a show this way. 

Places_Please

  • Tourist
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Re: BLOCKING: Blocking notation and stage spikes for 2-level set
« Reply #4 on: Sep 17, 2012, 04:30 am »
BayAreaSM ahh thank you so much!! That blocking notation seems like it could save me a lot of hassle! I'm definitely going to check the BTDT link. Unfortunately, we're a little community college, so making mock levels isn't possible. It's a great idea though, I'm definitely going to tuck it into my back pocket to try for later!

Maribeth Thanks! I'm going to ask him tomorrow if he has a preference for sure, and will definitely use the L2 underlining idea, seems like it makes it nice and clear.

Beatr79 Thanks! I'm really leaning towards that idea too if my director agrees, the show requires such precise timing that if we could solve the problem that way, having L2 USC of L1, that would just be great

Likes:


Places_Please

  • Tourist
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Re: BLOCKING: Blocking notation and stage spikes for 2-level set
« Reply #5 on: Nov 23, 2012, 09:13 pm »
Hi all! I just wanted to say thank you again for your input! Things got busy in a hurry which is why this is so late. My director didn't have an opinion on how we spiked the floor so what we ended up doing was using a different color for each level with another color for the emergency stairs, red for level 1, blue for level 2, and dark green for the emergency stairs during act 2, and then we simply rehearsed act 2 as if we never had to turn it around, and then I went through with spike tape and numbered the doors to make them easier to track, so I knew that 1-4 were on the first floor and 5-8 were on the second floor. We were fortunate enough that our set dimensions didn't overlap much and it was a very simple layout so it was relatively easy to distinguish between the two floors. The shop foreman and I then talked the actors through it before our first blocking rehearsal.

BayAreaSM

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 410
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Bay Area SM
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Current Gig: Career Change out of SM'ing
  • Experience: Professional
Re: BLOCKING: Blocking notation and stage spikes for 2-level set
« Reply #6 on: Nov 23, 2012, 09:28 pm »
Glad to hear that you found a solution that also worked for your space! Numbering can always help - especially with multiple entrance points like that. And as you can see, Actors can pick it up quickly, if they are introduced to the numbering early on and everyone uses it consistently.

Hope you had a great run!

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
4 Replies
15231 Views
Last post Sep 29, 2012, 06:17 pm
by Maribeth
0 Replies
1000 Views
Last post Jan 25, 2012, 06:19 pm
by Jerry Dougherty
3 Replies
2023 Views
Last post May 30, 2012, 05:55 pm
by lnwijangco