Thursday, January 28, 2016

Checking In: Scene Shop

No single day is like any other in the Knox College scene shop this term. In four weeks, we have made amazing progress on building the two huge sets for Rep Term. Exciting highlights from this week are that the three traps for Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere are in place and functioning in Harbach, and the walls for The Secret in the Wings  have started to go up.Foundations for both sets are constructed and installation of stairs is well on its way. 

Ian Tully is incredibly proud of the work his crew members have been able to accomplish, leaving this note on his Facebook profile:"REP TERM XVII Update: Shout out and kudos for all the amazing people on scene crew this REP term. Two weeks in a row we have set very ambitious goals, and two weeks in a row we have met these goals despite normal speed-bumps and set-backs. The work we've accomplished would not be possible without the positive attitudes and the general willingness to step up and bust things out."

What a nice guy. Another big task we managed to accomplish this week was relocating the risers in Studio Theatre proving that Knox kids are willing to go the extra mile to create something they can truly be proud of. Since the platforms have been up, rehearsals for Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere have been taken to new heights, 10 feet high to be exact.

Personally, I can say that I never expected to spend so much time around power tools and sawdust this term, but it's been a blast. It didn't take very long to become accustomed to the rhetoric and organization of the scene shop, and it didn't take very long to recognize every song on the scene shop playlists either. At week four, I think we're all fitting into a semblance of routine (quickly to be upset by impending tech week), but despite this, I am still very excited to see what exactly I will be doing each day.

Caroline Foulk
ASM Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere 

Caleb Awe and Joel Schleicher use the table saw.

Checking In: Costume Shop

As we near the halfway point of the term, the costume department and crews are all chugging along, prepping costumes for two full shows. As the pressure bears down to have all pieces finished for tech week, the shop meets 1-6pm every single day, and we are even starting to see a few night and weekend sessions. The truly studious workers are building, pulling, hemming, and adding details to well over a thousand costume pieces between the two shows-- it is safe to say that the costume shop has its work cut out for it.

Some big work in the shop this week has been on the crowns for The Secret in the Wings. Ren, Amalia, and Willa have been working very hard to build gorgeous and intricate crowns for our queens, princes, and the like. On one side of our green room, there is a large table filled with crystal gems, silver wire, and pearls. There, these lovely people sit, and work everyday towards building 13 crowns in total. The process is as intricate as spinning straw into gold, but our workers are meticulous in everything. Expect to see beautiful crowns when you come to see our show!

In the furthest reaches of the costume shop, the scent of dye fills the air. Covered by aprons to prevent staining, Hanna, and wonderful shop worker Nola are hard at work dyeing fabrics for different costumes and accessories. Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere is a show that keeps them busy with costume pieces that must be the color of feathers or fur. The process of dyeing involves taking dyes that the costume shop already has, mixing them together into what looks like the desired color, letting the fabric soak, rinsing the fabric, letting it dry, and then doing it all again. We're just dyeing to show you all what we’ve been working on!

The rest of us in Rep Term are continuing to work hard in our own crews and in rehearsals, but the costume shop is an inspiration in its work. In the words of Margo, “there is always more to do.”

Sarah Lowe
Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere- ASM/Ensemble Member

Jayel Gant working hard to make costumes.

Ren Barkey models a crown for The Secret in the Wings.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Week Three: Hard Work is Key

Week three has come and past. The week began with discussion on dramaturgical ideas and pursuits for the program and lobby display. We’ve come up with some pretty incredible and immersive ideas, now it’s time to figure out which ones are practical given our time and resources. Can we really recreate an entire tube station in the lobby of CFA? Can we really have live swans wandering around studio lobby? Regardless, whatever we decided to go with I know will be great.

Thursday morning a group of us from  Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (NGN) had to participate in a stage combat workshop run by Morgan Jellison. We learned a number of different ways to slap, punch, and even strangle an attacker on stage. Things got pretty intense! But we were told to move through the steps with the speed of molasses to ensure our safety. Next Thursday we’re going to learn how to kick, throw, and stomp someone’s head in! I’m excited to say the least…

After the workshop I got to sit in on a meeting with my fellow PR-er, Brady, as we discussed with Knox’s Office of Communications various ways with which we can get the Rep Term word out. We came up with some cool stuff, like doing an interview with the local radio station, getting in touch with some high school theatre clubs, talking to the tourist association, and much more. Our campaign to get local restaurants to feature Rep Term themed dishes is going wonderfully! I am absolutely surprised at how on board they all are, so everyone make sure to get out to Baked, the Beanhive, Q’s, Glo Juice Bar, The Landmark, and Uncle Billie’s soon to get your what-have-yous! I’m thrilled to find out what they’ll come up with.

As far as NGN rehearsals go, by Friday we were practically halfway done blocking act two, which is incredible given the number of rehearsals we’ve had. The Secret in the Wings rehearsal have led the company to be almost done blocking the show. The momentum picks up a lot in act two. Now more than ever I feel the pressure to make sure that I’m staying on top of marking my tactics and objects. As a learning actor,I’m starting to notice the difference this makes, which is an exciting discovery.

Week four hasn’t even begun and I can already feel the pressure of tech week! I cannot believe how quickly this term is going by. We’ve done so much, but we’ve so far to go! Week four, look out!

 Trevor Marshall sets up shop in the new props room.
 Jordan Hurst takes a company selfie.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Behind the Scenes: Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere

Last week I sat in on the first stumble-through of act one of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere adapted by Robert Kauzlaric. People began running across the stage, moving props, and setting the scene for the world we were entering. The cast and crew wasted no time diving right into act one.

Even without the set, lights, or sound I had no trouble getting lost in the world. Liz Carlin-Metz, director, used the entirety of Harbach to her full advantage. With a cast of 32 people, however, it's amazing that she has enough room for scenes that involve the full cast. The ensemble members play a variety of characters. From rats to pigeons to monks they are constantly running around and helping create the scene. Even in huge montage sequences you never see anyone out of character.

The story follows Richard Mayhew (Micah Snow-Cobb), the everyman who must overcome challenges in London Below, a world of people who are forgotten, who slip through the cracks. He befriends a girl named Door (Martha Brown), who is an opener. Openers have the ability to make doors appear or open whenever they desire. Together, along with the Marquis de Carabas, (Ian Tully), and Hunter (Jordan Hurst) they go on a journey to in London Below.

The show has only had seven rehearsals, and act one is already well underway. The Neverwhere team has been moving at an impressive rate, and still has a long way to go. I know that they'll continue to make huge strides in the coming weeks. I can't wait to see act two!

Brady Comenduley
ASM The Secret in the Wings
Crew Chief of Social Media

Friday, January 22, 2016

Behind the Scenes: The Secret in the Wings

A rehearsal for The Secret in the Wings by Mary Zimmerman begins with the cast gathering on the risers in the studio theatre. Scripts in hand, the students are ready to begin blocking -- the arrangement of actors onstage and how they move. Director Jeff Grace gives them the rundown for how rehearsal will run for the night. This time they are tackling the blocking of the longest scene in the play, a scene that retells the fairy tale "The Six Swans."

The Secret in the Wings is all about precision. The sons bring forward equally spaced chairs, flap their wings -- careful not to bring their wrists above their shoulders -- then sit crossing their legs with stacked knees. Sometimes actors have to execute their blocking in perfect synchronicity with other cast members. Often there are music cues that dictate exactly how long a movement or action or line can take. For many of the cast members precision blocking is not something they have encountered before, and it provides a new challenge. A big part of Rep Term is overcoming obstacles and the unexpected. What is the biggest challenge for Jeff Grace? He wants more rehearsal time.

While most main stage shows rehearse five days a week the Rep Term shows have just three a week. We must confront off-script dates quicker than we ever realized. As we chug through week three the shows are beginning to come together. Week four will see the rest of the shows blocked, and then it’s on to run throughs.

Moriah Chermak
Neverwhere... Anesthesia, Ensemble Member

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Rep Term on the Radio

Check out this story about RepTerm on a local NPR station!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Week Two: In Review

     I can hardly believe week two is already behind us, the journey still feels so young. That being said, I'm definitely starting to get into the rhythm of Rep Term, and I can absolutely say that I understand what all the hype is about.
     Our Monday morning company meeting was held with a sad feeling in our hearts as we had heard the news of David Bowie. But, as they say, the show must go on. Craig introduced the models for both of our sets, which we passed around with excitement, no doubt imagining ourselves as tiny people walking around the platforms. A couple more important announcements were made and we were released into the week.
     Having a schedule that changes everyday was a little startling at first, but now I've learned that the only way to get through a week is to expect the unexpected. For example, this past week I yanked yellow stitching out of thick black fabric with a pair of tweezers for the costume shop. I burnt several of my fingers hot-gluing feathers and googly eyes onto a styrofoam ball for the props team. For PR I sent several "official" emails, and let me tell you, in the adult world scheduling a meeting is not as easy as it would seem. I said cheese in front of Peter Bailey's camera, and then laughed at what he had captured. I anguished over the perfect verb to use when marking out my scene and line tactics, and this is only the beginning.
     All I can say is how much I love every minute of it. Even Saturday's five hour rehearsal was a joy to be a part of. What I'm learning is that something can be challenging, and annoyingly difficult or tedious, but if it's a part of what you love and are impassioned by, then you've found a pretty remarkable balance of challenging yourself and your skills, and having a blast at the same time.

Bring it on week three!

Martha Brown
Door... Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere

Danielle Freeman studies Craig Choma's The Secret in the Wings set model.

Bird props for Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.

Community Out Reach

A huge aspect of any show is public relations. In order to get many people to come see our shows, it is imperative that we reach out to the Knox community, as well as the Galesburg community. That said, I am proud to announce that our PR team has been hard at work reaching out to Galesburg. Soon, if you stop by Uncle Billy's you can pick up a Rep Term themed cookie, or if you stop by Q's Cafe you might notice a new Rep Term sandwich on the menu. Other restaurants that may soon have Rep Term themed options include Baked, Landmark, and The Beanhive. Keep checking in for more updates from Rep Term XVII, and if you haven't yet, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and our new Instagram!

Brady Comenduley
ASM The Secret in The Wings
Crew Chief of Social Media

Monday, January 11, 2016

Week One: Done.

While other students on campus were getting syllabi, buying books, and freezing while walking to and from various buildings on campus, Rep Term XVII students were cozying it up in CFA, their new home for the term. Things got moving quickly with each shop. The scene shop finalized ground plans, cleaned out the spaces, taped out the two sets, and started to put up risers in Studio Theatre. The costume shop has been busy taking measurements of the entire company, teaching new comers to sew, making lists for days, ordering materials, and lots of pulling from costume storage. They have even managed to have some preliminary costume fittings! The properties masters have been wrangling hoards of rehearsal props for immediate use in rehearsals. The folks in publicity have begun the RTXVII Snapchat (add us on Snapchat from the blog page!) and Facebook page. They have begun preliminary poster designs and sent out a contest for our Rep Term logo!  The sound designers were already getting spotted at rehearsals for the shows they’re working on making notes for potential cues. Besides crew work and rehearsals, RTXVII students have been busy learning and brainstorming dramaturgical aspects of both The Secret in The Wings and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. More updates to come on the shop work, rehearsals, and dramaturgy next week!

Natalie Polechonski                                                                                                           
The Secret in the Wings Ensemble Member                                                               
Properties Master: Neverwhere


Caroline Foulk    
 ASM Neverwhere

The scene shop puts the risers up in studio.

Joel Schleicher and Craig Choma discuss design.

Friday, January 8, 2016

First Day of Shop Calls

           Today was the first day Rep Term felt familiar to a lot of us. After a week of auditions, first rehearsals and a lesson on dramaturgy, today we got to get our hands dirty, finally. Shop calls run from one to six most days. Today, I attended my first call from two to four and worked on putting up risers in Studio. Scattered around CFA, others were busy with a variety of tasks from striking lights to learning how to sew to simply cleaning out the remnants of shows past to prepare for the monster that is Repertory Term.
            So far, I would say that morale seems high. When Ian Tully (Master Carpenter) called for assistance, three people would pop up, wrenches in hand, to help, and when the snapchat team came for a photo op, even more would appear. We are already working as a team, and with the lessons from the theater faculty on the importance of working hard and remaining professional still fresh in our minds, we are working more efficiently and safely than ever before.
            Many will wonder where their theater friends have to throughout this Rep Term, but from one to six, Monday through Friday, you will find us in CFA, listening to music and making progress on what will inevitably be two of the greatest shows Knox College has ever produced... not to brag or anything.

--Caroline Foulk
Neverwhere ASM

Holden Meier and Joel Schleicher sweep the scene shop in prep for the term.

Those new to costumes learn how to use the sewing machines.