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Some Guidelines for the Loeb Experimental Theatre
This is by no means a complete list of everything to do with the Productions in the Ex. Read the Ex Handbook if you haven't already.
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The Loeb Experimental Theatre
- The Ex theatre is a plain black box, 35' X 47' with a balcony around three sides, and a grid supporting movable panels approximately 16' high.
- Each production in the ex creates a different audience seating and stage arrangement.
- The Ex is separated from the shop by two sets of heavy soundproof doors. The space between these doors is called the lower airlock. The airlock functions as a backstage area for many productions. The audience seating risers are stored in the lower airlock. The lower airlock is also one of three possible official fire exits from the theatre space. Each production must provide a clear path to 2 of the exits. If the lower airlock is a fire exit must remain passable with no obstructions. The airlock isolates the Ex from the sound created in the Scene Shop, for this to work, both doors must be closed and all other doors must be closed. People may be working in the scene shop during your performance.
- There are two exits from the ex balcony. One leads to the costume shop and one leads to a little room called the upper airlock and then into the stairwell by the ex lobby. The upper airlock contains the dimmers for the ex lights, a storage area for stock platforms and a couple storage cabinets.
HRDC Shows in the Experimental Theatre
- Every HRDC show performing in the Ex needs to schedule two meetings with Michael Griggs at least three weeks before they load-in. The first meeting is for the producer(s), director, designers and any other staff members to come and discuss the initial ideas for the production. The design does not need to be finalized at this time. All you need to bring are ideas so we can discuss wherever you are in the process at the time. The goal of this meeting to to inform Michael (and other ART staff members when appropriate) of your intentions and allow the production staff time to take into consideration suggestions from Michael.
The second meeting should take place when you have a final design and budget ready for approval. You cannot spend any money until the budget is approved so the sooner these meetings are accomplished, the sooner your production can move forward.
- HRDC shows in the EX are entitled to some supplies that I can provide them. These include a roll of black gaff tape for each show, glow tape, and black All-Floor paint to restore the ex surfaces that they may have painted for their show. See Scenery and Painting in the Ex below for details. Michael Griggs will usually leave these supplies out in the ex or tool room where you can find them, but please ask for them in case he forgets.
- EX shows have access to the red tool room and supplies within, including black tie-line, casters, hardware and various leftover materials from previous shows. Do not abuse access to these materials, if you decide to make your set out of miles of tie-line, then you should buy it out of your set budget.
- There should be spare lamps for the ex lighting instruments and ex house lights up in the grid, contact Michael Griggs if the supply runs low.
- First review the regulations in the HRDC Ex Handbook.
- If you stack audience riser platforms taller than 32" you must put a handrail around the sides and back of the seating unit.
- You must use stair step units anywhere the audience has to step higher than an 8" rise. These step units should be fixed to the platform or floor so they do not slide or rock. They should also have the step edges lined with white tape for visibility. Get white tape from Michael Griggs if there is none in the tool room.
- You cannot have actors or crew in the grid over the audience area.
- You cannot fly anything in above the audience with first proving to Michael Griggs the safety of your plan.
- You must provide houselights at a bright enough level for the audience to safely find their way to the seats and up and down stairs. Check with Michael Griggs if there are any questions.
- You can make your audience do all sorts of things like stand for the entire show or sit on pillows on the floor or lay down in beds. But you must realize that not everyone will be able or willing to do those things so you must provide a seating area for them and a seat for anybody who requests one. You also must make it know to the audience that they can have a seat if they ask for one.
- You cannot have any audience in the balcony and the balcony should be clear of any extra chairs, tools, pipes and other obstructions and hazards that could fall off.
- Put up notices outside of the theatre in visible places for the courtesy of your audience if you are using any of the following: actors smoking, smoke or fog effect (see regulations), gunshots, strobe light, or anything else you think your audience might have a physical reaction or allergy to.
- Two exit signs must be visible during the run of your show and the main exit door needs to be visible and have a clear path to it. If the audience ends up in a location where they cannot see an exit sign, you must use the portable exit sign that I can provide you. All audience members must be able to see an exit sign that leads them to the proper exit. You cannot obstruct or dim the exit signs and you cannot tape over the air vents in the bottom of the signs.
- The audience path to the exit may not be obstructed by any scenery or props. The path to the main exit must have at least a 48" wide unobstucted path.
- You should consider the safety of the actors who will be inhabiting your set design. Look over your set and make sure it is "actor proof". That is check for loose boards and materials that can be tripped on, sharp edges of materials that can cut actors or catch the fabric of costumes, splinters on unfinished wood edges, etc. Walk around backstage with the houselights off and only the stage lights on to make sure there are no obstacles or dangerous places backstage. Provide clip lights backstage where needed or requested by actors.
- Walk around the set and make sure everything is secure. Make sure stair units do not slide, ramps and rakes are not too steep, steps are not too high, platforms are not wobbly. Listen to the actors requests and complaints and respond to them to provide a safe set.
- Actors can play scenes from the balcony or even the grid (as long as they are not above the audience). The same guidelines as backstage apply for these spaces. There must be an illuminated path for the actor to get to the playing space and exit from it. If an actor is playing a scene in the grid you must remove anything loose and sitting in the grid or on the airducts that can be knocked off.
- Actors can climb down from the grid to the stage via ladders. You must tell Michael Griggs about these plans well in advance and he will require the director and actor to prove to him the safety of the device and the action.
- It is almost impossible to "fly" someone in the ex since there is almost no way to go through the grid. Actors can be hoisted up a few feet or suspended for short periods of time. Any plan to do this requires advanced notice to Michael Griggs and use of special rigging and harnesses that he may be able to provide with the assistance of the ART stage department. The director, actor and crew will have to prove to him that they can safely accomplish the effect.
- It must be made known to the actors by the producer, director and/or the designer that they can speak up at anytime with any concerns they have about the safety of anything in the production.
Scenery and Painting in the Ex
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- First review the guidelines for set design and construction in the HRDC Ex Handbook.
- Yes you can screw into the floor of the ex, just try not to go nuts with it.
- Yes you can paint almost the entire ex, but not the acoustic wall panels or a few other things. Discuss any plans with Michael Griggs and remember, you have to restore it to black at strike.
- Yes you can paint the ex parallel risers and lids (not the seating risers), but they also have to be restored to black at strike.
- Do not paint the surfaces of the ex theatre or risers with any paint that has a texture to it, or with any metallic or fluorescent spray paint.
- Do not use floor wax on the surfaces of the ex theatre, including the floor.
- You cannot paint the seating risers and should keep from spilling or splashing paint on them. You may use them as scenery, but you cannot paint them or screw into them.
- Review the section on stock platforms in the HRDC Ex Handbook.
- There are usually a few 4' x 8' wooden platforms hanging around the upper ex airlock, you can use these and add legs for whatever height you need, but do not change their 4' x 8' size or drill holes in them without permission from Michael Griggs.
- You can take the ex hanging flats off of the tracks and lay them down to paint them, just roll them off of the ends by the balcony. Try not to take apart or lose any of the roller bearing hardware at the top of the flats.
- You cannot screw or nail anything to the hanging ex flats. Use clamps or tieline or tape.
- Hang items from the grid with rope, chain, or aircraft cable. Tieline can only be used for very light objects. If rigging supplies are not in the ex tool room, you need to borrow them from the mainstage. Contact Joe Stoltman ART stage supervisor for rigging hardware, pipes and stuff like that.
- Review the inventories for the Ex staging and seating platforms.
Drapery in the Ex
- Stage drapery (soft goods) for the ex are stored in the trap room (below the mainstage) of the Loeb. You must get soft goods through the Michael Griggs or an HRDC board member. Review the rules about getting, using and returning soft goods.
- Soft goods can not be hung until all painting is completed.
- Review the inventory of ex soft goods.
- Review the section on softgoods in the HRDC Ex Handbook.
- Do NOT put any tape on any soft goods, ever.
- Soft goods can NOT be pinned or taped or stapled. The ONLY acceptable way to attached goods together or to hold them back is to use the spring clamps that should be in the ex and the red tool room. Most of these clamps are black plastic with red plastic pads on their jaws, some are metal clamps.
- You may want to use some pipe to hang softgoods from under the grid. You can get pipe from the storage areas upstage on the mainstage. Ask me or your HRDC board liason about these, the ART stage supevisor (Joe Stoltman) must be notified when any equipment, including pipe, leaves the mainstage. There are two types of pipe, heavy 2" steel pipe to hang heavy things from or to hang lights from and 1" "bottom" pipe, so called because it goes into the pocket at the bottom of masking drapery to make it hang flat and straight. Bottom pipe can be used in the ex to hang lighter weight soft goods from. Hang pipe from the grid in the ex with either rope, chain, or aircraft cable. Do not use tie line to hang pipe. Be sure to return pipe to the mainstage storage areas at your strike.
- The Ex softgoods are some of the most frequently used equipment in the building. Please treat them gently and keep them clean so they can continue to mask for years to come.
- There are also a couple of framed gray rear projection screens approx 3' x 5'.
Water in the Ex
- On occasion there are requests to use water as an element in the design of a show. From previous experience I can tell you that in almost every instance of using a bath tub, kiddy swimming pool, or custom built pool or fountain there have been spills and leaks that have caused damage to the floor of the ex and those shows had to purchase and replace those damaged flooring materials .
- If you want to use water in the ex you must put it in a device that is specifically made to hold water, like a child's swimming pool, bath tub, or pond liner. The floor under that device must be covered with 2 layers of 6 mil. plastic sheeting. You also must leave room in your budget for the possibility of buying a few sheets of 1/4" masonite to replace damaged floor panels.
Fire and smoke in the Ex
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- In general there is no fire of any kind allowed on stage. You need to discuss issues of actors smoking cigarettes with Michael Griggs.
- Torches, oil lamps or other flaming devices are not allowed.
- There is a small Rosco fog machine available for use by shows. Mainstage HRDC shows get priority for its use, so reserve it before an ex show does. I usually have a supply of fog juice around, so you will probably not have to purchase any. I will only release the fog machine to the person who will be responsible for it during the run of the show and I will teach them how to use it at that time. Please review the regulations regarding use of smoke, fog, and haze in the Ex.
Lighting in the Ex
- Review the inventory of ex lighting instruments
- Review the section on lights in the HRDC Ex Handbook.
- There are usually a couple instruments broken and waiting for parts and repair, so don't expect the complete inventory to be in the grid at all times.
- If instruments are not working, flicking on and off, or sparking then bring them to Michael's office and if he is not there leave them in front of his door with a note explaining the problem.
- If you have run out of spare lamps for any of the instruments or houselights or worklights, leave Michael Griggs a note, e-mail or voice mail or have the HRDC board liaison contact him.
- We keep some template holders and an assortment of gobos that you can use in the ex. See Michael Griggs to pick these up. If you purchase a special gobo with your ex budget it should join the gobo stock after your strike.
- The boxes with colored gels usually reside on a high shelf in the HRDC office. However they may be in the ex already, on the mainstage or in the ex prop box. Have your HRDC board liaison help you search. The gel frames are also in a crate, let Michael Griggs know if you do not have enough, sometimes the HRDC mainstage show is using a lot of them.
- Slide projectors are managed by ART master electrician Derek Wiles. You need to contact him in advance (at least a week before your load-in) about using slide projectors. Sometimes they are all tied up in a show and you will have to find projectors elsewhere. Be sure to get a spare lamp for the slide projectors when you check it out. If you borrow slide projectors from somewhere else, be sure to get a spare lamp with them. Here is a page with some information to help you with projections.
- The Loeb has no video projectors or video monitors.
Sound in the Ex
- Review the section on Sound in the HRDC Ex Handbook.
- Michael Griggs has a telephone ringer device (Tele-Q box) available for HRDC shows at the Loeb. You need a phone with a working ringer to make this work, there should be a couple in small props. Contact him if you want to use this.
- There is a permanent Clear-Com intercom system in the ex. The headsets, beltpacks and cable live in a specifically marked crate that is usually in the HRDC office or the Ex prop box when they are not being used in a production. If any of the Clear-Com parts do not work, please see me, your HRDC board liaison or David Remedios in the ART Sound Department.
- Notify Michael Griggs, your board liaison or David Remedios if any sound equipment in the ex is malfunctioning or broken.
Costumes and Props
- Read the Guidelines for use of the Loeb Costume Shop and costume and prop stock. You can also review the section on props and costumes and use of the costume shop in the Ex Handbook.
- If you want to use the equipment in the costume shop, you must first contact the costume shop manager, Jeanette Hawley for an orientation. Call 495-2668 and ask for her.
- The combo to the ex dressing room is available from your HRDC board liaison or the HRDC ex coordinator. Please remove everything from the dressing room that belongs to your show at strike. If there is a pile of stuff in the dressing room when you get in there notify the HRDC Ex Coordinator.
- Sorry Ex shows are never allowed to borrow from ART Prop Stock.
- If you will be bringing a lot of prop items or a very large item to the Loeb for your ex show, discuss where to store things with me or with your HRDC board representative in advance of their delivery.
- Michael Griggs has a couple prop starter pistols that can be used for ex shows when a gun needs to fire. He has a limited number of blanks for these and you will need to buy more if you need them. You will also have to listen to a safety lecture from Michael on the proper use and care of these props. He will only release the starter pistol to the person responsible for them during the run of the show.
- Be sure to lock up valuable or irreplaceable props in the Ex prop cabinet.
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