Magazine article Stage Directions

On Your Hands

Magazine article Stage Directions

On Your Hands

Article excerpt

A designer can see a mountain in his mind, but the TD can build it and make it tangible. This, ultimately, is what the TD does, and it's a proud moment to stand back with your crew to admire the culmination of your hard work.

But all of this relies on the design. While you can take care of rear elevations and some detail drawings on your own - maybe even a few pieces of floor plan - you ultimately can't make any real moves until the designer has come through. Under normal circumstances, the designer will present his plans with plenty of time to determine hour loads, materials and calendar time to complete the project whether it's a set or any other piece of the show. What, however, might you do if these plans never materialize?

I ran into a TD who regaled me with his recollections of precisely such an event. The theatre that employs him had produced a play (which will remain nameless for the sake of all those involved), but the set designer failed to produce any plans by the deadline. When complete plans finally surfaced, it was already too late to build everything without hiring a prohibitive amount of job-in labor that would likely not be available on such short notice.TheTD committed an act I have seen done only once before: he began to designate what could be built with the available hours and what was absolutely necessary, hoping to have some time left at the end to build the rest.

What became of this scenario I never got to find out but it raised a point of TD ethics. ATD should work as hard as possible to maintain a comfortable environment while incessantly reminding the designer that plans are due, but at what point must a TD make this kind of uncomfortable call?

I am going to take a stance on this issue that I'm sure will incite riots in some houses and applause in others. Assuming that proper care has been taken to keep everyone in the loop (which must be done at all times anyway), and assuming that all proper requests for plans have been made and not met your first duty is to your crew. …

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