Author Topic: SCENERY: And it blew like a sailboat, right into the orch pit  (Read 3635 times)

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djemily

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So, the problem is this. I'm doing two shows for a new company in my town. Our amphitheatre is completely open, and it's always windy here. Yesterday they were loading in the first set of the season (not one of my shows) and one of the set pieces was on it's wagon and just blew right off the edge of the stage, into the orchestra pit. When I was talking to the other SM (who is also an actor) about why this happened he told me that last year they would literally be riding the barn from Oklahoma! across the stage while acting. The wagons don't have breaks and the stage "floor" is solid cement so we can't screw them down. They try to hold the set pieces in place with wedges and sandbags. My question is, when it comes to my shows, should I fight for breaks on the wagons for safety or is this a battle that I shouldn't start at risk of offending the set designer/TD? And, how should I bring this up? Should I wait for my show or should I try to convince the other SM to fight it too?
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 12:27 am by PSMKay »

kiwitechgirl

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Re: And it blew like a sailboat, right into the orch pit
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2007, 10:29 pm »
I would say that if they were riding the barn across the stage despite it being wedged and sandbagged, then you should definitely be fighting for brakes!  Even if it does offend the set designer (which it shouldn't), safety has to be a priority.  Brakes don't have to be visible to the audience - we put brakes along the upstage edge of wagons - and you can get those big brakes which lift the wagon slightly off its castors which are pretty fail-safe.  Rosco make 'em - http://www.rosco.com/uk/hardware/wagon.asp and you can also find them at http://www.productionadvantageonline.com/stagehrdwr.htm and here http://www.texasscenic.com/hardware.html to mention a few - I just Googled "stage wagon brakes" and got loads of hits.  In terms of bringing it up, maybe mention that you're very concerned about the actors' safety (and the orchestra's!) and that you've found these brakes and what do they think about putting them on the wagons.  If you also mention that they're quicker to operate than wedges and sandbags, and less crew-intensive, it might help your cause.  If you can get the other SM on your side, then it should help your cause.

ScooterSM

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Re: And it blew like a sailboat, right into the orch pit
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2007, 10:33 pm »
Always go to the side of safety.  Better that you and the other stage manager ask for the brakes that are desperately needed (or to discuss other ways to secure the wagons) then worry about offending anyone.  If the TD/designer gets mad because you are concerned about the welfare of your cast and crew, then they are woefully ignorant of what a stage manager's job is.  If you feel like they will ignore a verbal request, then put it in writing (email works fabulously) and cc it to the production manager, etc.  That way if for some bizarre reason they decide not to do anything, you have documented that you have done everything that you could.

Best of luck with this!

SSM
“I've never been paid a lot, but the theatre has kept me, and for that I shall be eternally grateful.” Tony Church

Scott

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Re: And it blew like a sailboat, right into the orch pit
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2007, 11:49 pm »
Brakes are good!

zayit shachor

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Re: And it blew like a sailboat, right into the orch pit
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2007, 11:53 pm »
I agree with previous posters - it's your job to be concerned with safety, and this sounds like it's worth bringing up.

Mac Calder

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Re: And it blew like a sailboat, right into the orch pit
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2007, 12:16 am »
I would go so far as to say that if something does not seem to be safe to you, and you have suggested a cost effective practical method to make it safe, that you refuse to allow the actors onto the stage with the set piece until it is made safe. That covers your backside.

If your PM calls you on it, then ask for a liability waiver from the company before you do allow them on set. Chances are, they will fix the set pretty damn quick - because if they waive your liability, they acknowledge the risk - and if something goes wrong, they may as well have signed a blank cheque and handed it to the cast.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2007, 01:17 am by Mac Calder »

KMC

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Re: And it blew like a sailboat, right into the orch pit
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2007, 12:25 am »
I'd tend to agree with the folks who've already posted.  As long as you're tactful and express concern for the actors' safety you're completely in the right.  The only likely way you'd offend people is if you come across to them as telling them how to do their job.  Maybe suggest a number of solutions to your TD or PM, but brakes seem to be what's needed here.  With a concrete stage it's unlikely you could dog the wagon down.  You may also suggest straight casters as opposed to swivel casters.  This would at least keep the wagons sailing in a straight line  ;) - thought it would make the wagons much more cumbersome.
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

djemily

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Re: And it blew like a sailboat, right into the orch pit
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2007, 05:55 pm »
Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. Here's an update. I spoke to the other SM and he told me that they "fixed it". What they ended up doing was putting wedges (glorified door stops) under the wagons to lift them off their castors, and then putting kick down door stops as an extra grip. I really hope this works out, but I'll keep you posted. I really appreicate everyone offering their ideas.

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