Psyche's Backstage Blog

May I shake your hand?

posted Jul 29, 2012, 3:18 AM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 29, 2012, 3:18 AM ]

Just a little bit of silliness...  One of the rewards for our Kickstarter donors is learning "the top-secret handshake of the gods."  What can I say?  It was late and we were all feeling a bit goofy when we were coming up with reward ideas.  Anyway, for those of you who missed out on learning the handshake (we were a bit remiss in having it ready the first weekend of the show), and to preserve it for posterity, here is the handshake as taught to us all by Sean Olivares (with help from Kathleen Johnson):

The Secret Handshake of the Gods

Sean Olivares is House Manager, and is performing in the roles of Bill-Bill in Dammed and Charles in Or,. Kathleen Johnson is Assistant House Manager.

The Dammed Field Trip

posted Jul 24, 2012, 6:09 PM by Heidi Voelker   [ updated Jul 26, 2012, 12:51 PM by Robert Schulz ]

At Monticello Dam. Photo by Heidi Voelker
So this summer Barnyard is doing a workshop on the play Dammed. Dammed is set in Monticello valley before the Monticello dam was built. Since we are so close, the cast took a field trip out this weekend. We stopped by the Monticello dam first. It is an amazing structure. There are signs up there that show how much water flows through he dam and how much energy is produced. But it is less positive when thinking about the town that was destroyed and the people forced off their land so this could happen.

Our next stop was the Monticello cemetery up at Spanish Flats. When the dam was being built, the town moved the cemetery so it would not be buried. As we wandered through the gravestones, a sense of solemness settled on us. There was not much talk, leaving the insects to provide all of the noise. We seemed to all be lost in thought. I kept thinking about how hard it is to bury a loved one in the first place, and how that pain must return if you need to move them.

Picnic. Photo by Heidi Voelker.
We then set off to a picnic lunch by Berryessa Lake. There was tasty food and lovely talk before we set off for the Monticello museum. The Museum is a room full of pictures and stories and mementos from Monticello.What caught me were the stories. They reminded me of stories my grandparents have told me. Some very specific events that occurred as well as the feeling of the town. Boys would go off in the afternoon and feed themselves on whatever they caught. Teenagers would go make out in the cemetery. These are the pieces that make up a town.

Heidi Voelker is Stage Manager for Dammed, Director of Or, and Associate Producer for the 2012 Season.

Buried Treasure

posted Jul 21, 2012, 1:34 PM by Tiffany Michael   [ updated Jul 21, 2012, 6:34 PM by Robert Schulz ]

Photo by Tiffany Michael.
Sometimes the barn springs forth some interesting surprises. Late Wednesday night (Thursday morning), as we were cleaning up for the night, I spotted something round in the dirt in the middle of the barn. I dusted it off and picked it up to discover it was a gold dollar coin.  But this is no ordinary dollar coin (which, lets face it, just aren't that ordinary to begin with). I knew exactly why it was in the middle of the dirt floor, who put it there, and how long it had been there.

Some of you may remember when we produced Picked, by Stephanie Timm, three years ago.  One of the props was a bag of gold coins, and a loose one, which were hidden under a stump. Over the course of the run, we managed to misplace a few of them.  So lo and behold, I had uncovered one of the missing coins, three years later.  It was a fun find. One of the many things that makes theatre in an outdoor (or "outdoor") space unique. Buried treasure.


...and we're off!

posted Jul 21, 2012, 2:28 AM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 22, 2012, 12:29 AM ]

Wow!  Opening night was a success!  All the final little last minute down to the wire bits and pieces came together, we sold out all our tickets for the night, playwright Meghan Brown got to see her play premiere in front of a capacity audience, and after several very late nights, I'm too tired to post much more...

Maddy Stone as Psyche, Alison Whismore as Vera (Anthony Pinto as Peter, Jason Oler as Ali, are on stage but not visible in picture).
Photo by Robert Schulz.

Oh, and hey, we're doing this eight more times before we switch over to our other fully produced play for the season, Or, so come out and see the play!

Meghan Brown sees her own play for the first time...

posted Jul 19, 2012, 3:05 AM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 19, 2012, 3:05 AM ]

Maddy Ryen interviews playwright Meghan Brown, who wrote Psyche.  Thanks to the generosity of our Kickstarter donors, we've been able to fly Meghan up from southern California twice to participate in the process of producing the world premiere of Psyche.  Tonight's dress rehearsal was the first time Meghan has seen Psyche in a full production on stage.

Meghan Brown - before dress rehearsal.

Meghan Brown - after dress rehearsal.

Maddy Ryen is Associate Director for Psyche, and is performing in the role of Sarah in Dammed. Meghan Brown is the playwright of Psyche.

Hot or cold, seldom in between.

posted Jul 18, 2012, 12:33 AM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 18, 2012, 12:33 AM ]

While there are many unique things about making theatre happen in a century old barn, there are also challenges that we have in common with other theatres.  One of them is the weather - while we are in a barn, and are shaded from direct sunlight, the barn is still open to the weather, just like an outdoor theatre.  So everyone tends to pay attention to the weather forecast, and prepares accordingly.  We often break for the hottest part of the day, and everyone is encouraged to keep up with hydration needs.  But when the delta breeze kicks in, or a rare storm front moves through...

Jason Oler as Ali, Alison Whismore as Vera, Camille Beaumont as Sarah. Photo by Robert Schulz.

...everyone also needs to be prepared to bundle up.  The picture above was taken during rehearsals on Monday July 16.  The temperature had dropped into the mid-50's by the time we wrapped up for the night.  Ah, summer in the Central Valley!

An interview with Maddy Ryen

posted Jul 17, 2012, 2:20 AM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 17, 2012, 2:20 AM ]

Emily Henderson interviews Maddy Ryen after a late night of rehearsals on Friday the 13th...

Interview with Maddy Ryen

Maddy Ryen is Associate Director for Psyche, and is performing in the role of Sarah in Dammed. Emily Henderson is a member of the Barnyard Theatre Board of Directors and is helping coordinate various aspects of the production.

Psyche Week 4

posted Jul 16, 2012, 4:08 PM by Tiffany Michael   [ updated Jul 16, 2012, 8:15 PM by Robert Schulz ]

Hi folks!

Firstly, apologies for the tardiness of this update. Things got a little hectic and it slipped my mind.

Last week was certainly busy! This is what we intended to be tech week, which has now become a kind of tech week-and-a-half (as these things are wont to do). But what fantastic progress was made! The set is nearly complete aside from some detail work; most of the costumes are complete; there are lighting, projection, and sound cues written (though we still need to work through them); and front of house is starting to take shape.

The rehearsal schedule went a bit sideways this week.  Monday we had a run (run time was still at 2 hours 21 minutes, without intermission). The assistant light designers were on hand to watch and begin formulating a plan for cues.

Flying projector. Photo by Tiffany Michael.
Tuesday and Wednesday were reserved for filming projection material and dry tech. (Dry tech is where we work through all the technical elements of a show without actors.) Three sessions later, we had enough material to begin putting together the projection cues. Tuesday night, problems began creeping up. The system we're using to create and play back sounds wasn't working right. So Tuesday evening was spent tracking down solutions. Luckily, when we tried several of them on Wednesday, the system worked great! Which led us to the projector problems. When we fed the projection cues to the projector, we discovered it just was too far back. We had to somehow mount it about 9 feet closer. This effectively put the projector hanging out in the middle of open air.  Ian and I put our heads together, came up with a plan, found the parts, ran it by Steven and Robert, and successfully got the projector in a much better location. We even took the opportunity to turn it sideways since we need a tall projection space more than we need a wide one.

It all worked out, though it did put us behind. The actors met in town Wednesday night to run lines while we were out fighting with the sound and projector. When the actors joined us on Thursday, we had to shift plans around. Thursday and Friday were supposed to be wet tech days (run through the technical elements, this time with actors). Instead, the actors ran the show outside with Jenny (it's down to about 2 hours) while inside cues were being written and problems solved.

Maddy came back from Montana on Friday and was able to spend a significant time after the run going over notes with the actors.

Over the weekend, the set crew made tremendous progress getting walls and doors up. Gena Whitman (the set designer) came in to paint. Most of the living room space is now painted, and there's only a few areas that need some detail work, for the most part. Otherwise, we have a fantastic, nearly-complete set!

Steven Schmidt directs, Ian Wallace tapes,
Maddie Stone as Psyche, Josh van Eyken as Eros.
Photo by Tiffany Michael.
Sunday morning a crew went out to the barn to clean up a bit. Items that were no longer needed were taken away. The backstage space was organized a bit more. And the parking area was set up.

We had to shoot one more session of filming on Sunday night (which is what I was doing instead of writing this update on time).

This week we'll be actually working with actors and the technical elements, plus we're adding in costumes. We'll have dress rehearsals (basically performances without an audience) later in the week, then on Friday, we open! So exciting!

I might send one more update next week to let everyone know how opening weekend went, otherwise, thanks for following along with our crazy shenanigans. Hope to see you out at the barn in the next few weeks! :)

Tiffany Lynn Michael
Stage Manager, Psyche

Set Construction. Photo by Robert Schulz.

An interview with Jason Oler

posted Jul 16, 2012, 1:01 AM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 16, 2012, 1:01 AM ]

Emily Henderson interviews Jason Oler after a late night of rehearsals on Friday the 13th...

Interview with Jason Oler

Jason Oler is performing in Psyche in the role of Ali. Emily Henderson is a member of the Barnyard Theatre Board of Directors and is helping coordinate various aspects of the production.

Theatre in a Barn is a bit different... (No. 2)

posted Jul 14, 2012, 3:43 PM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 14, 2012, 3:43 PM ]

Did your mom or dad ever tell you to go outside and play?

On Friday, we were hoping to be able to have rehearsals on stage with lighting, projection, and sound.  Things didn't quite come together in time, so the actors were told to go outside and do a play while we finished up with technical work inside the barn.

Alison Whismore and Jason Oler rehearse while Brian Oglesby, Maddy Ryen,
and Jennifer Estremera watch.   Photo by Robert Schulz.

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