The Season of She
a blog

Theatre in a Barn is a bit different... (No. 5)

posted Aug 12, 2013, 10:28 PM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Aug 12, 2013, 10:28 PM ]

Clean up during strike at the Barn can be a bit different...and sometimes, a bit icky.  We had a couple tents set up out back of the barn for the actors to use as changing rooms.  The most convenient spot to put the tents was under an old oak tree.  The oak tree proved to be a popular avian hang out, with the resulting unfortunate outcome for the tents.  One large bottle of cleaner and a lot of patient scrubbing removed the mess.

Before and after.

A Brief Treatise on Sirens

posted Jul 27, 2013, 1:36 AM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 27, 2013, 1:39 AM ]

Hope Raymond as Amelia,
Kane Chai as Jason.

siren /0ˈsʌɪr(ə)n/ noun, adjective, & verb. ME.
[ORIGIN Old French sereine, sirene (mod. sirène) from Late Latin Sirena fem. form of Latin Siren (to which the English word was finally assim.) from Greek Seirēn.]

Sirens play a role in several scenes in She Creatures:

2 Greek Mythology. Any of several women or winged creatures, half-woman half-bird, whose singing was supposed to lure unwary sailors to destruction on the rocks. Formerly also, a mermaid. LME.

Amelia, a mermaid, trades her tail for legs to begin a new life on land. Jason encounters her, and is entranced by her voice.

Hope Raymond as Aixa

3 fig. A person who sings sweetly; a dangerously fascinating woman, a temptress; anything tempting or alluring. L16.

Aixa, a phoenix, has been reborn, and tempts her husband from her previous life, Greg, to join her in a new life.

5b A device for making a loud prolonged or ululating sound as a signal or warning, esp. by revolving a perforated disc over a jet of compressed air or steam. L19.

A siren sound effect is used in one scene of She Creatures.

The West Plainfield Fire Department is located about 1 mile north of the Barn.  A large siren is located at the fire station as a backup method of notifying the volunteer firefighters of an emergency call should their pagers not work.

During the performance on Thursday July 25, the fire station had an emergency call, and the station siren went off, just before the cue for the siren sound effect.  Jeremy, the sound operator, wisely decided our sound cue had become redundant, and skipped it.

There was a similar occasion during our production last year of Psyche by Meghan Brown.  While there was no siren sound effect used in the play, there was a scene where a siren was not inappropriate.  That happened to be when the station siren went off during one show.

Fire Station Siren

The West Plainfield Fire Department also comes out before we open our shows to the public and inspects the Barn to ensure that we have proper exits, exit signage, fire extinguishers, etc.  We very much appreciate their assistance in making Theatre in a Barn a safe experience for everyone.

West Plainfield Fire Department

All photos in this blog entry by Robert Schulz. Siren definitions are from the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Sixth Edition, two volumes of lexicographical awesomeness.


posted Jul 24, 2013, 9:54 PM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 24, 2013, 9:56 PM ]

She Creatures - 2013. Alicia Hunt as Pandora.
Photo by Robert Schulz

Howdy All!

Sorry we haven't had a blog post for the past few days.  Once we survive the week leading up to the first weekend of shows, and then make it through the shows themselves, everyone wants to enjoy their time not at the Barn in non-Barnyard Theatre related ways, which does not include writing blog posts...

But, we're back now!  The first weekend went very well, with only a few minor technical glitches that were mostly invisible to the audience (dratted color scrollers!).  We're looking forward to two more weekends of performances, so if you haven't made it out to the Barn yet to see the show, you have seven more chances.

Now, we're starting to plan for the final step of the production process - Strike.  A theatrical strike is the opposite of a labor strike - it is a LOT of work.  When the show is over, we don't get to turn out the lights, shut the doors, and go home.  Nope, we still have to return the barn to its usual function - a working agricultural barn.  All the set work, seating, the lighting rig, the hundreds (thousands?) of pounds of sand on the floor, the dressing/costume area...that all needs to go away.  Everything that took us weeks to put together gets removed from the Barn.  Most of the work will happen in one day - the day after the last show.

Weeks of work, swept away in one day.

As Brian said, "Theatre is in the moment. Art in time. Blink, and it’s gone."

So don't blink, and miss your chance to see this bit of art.  Come on out and see the show, before it is gone.

Robert Schulz is Master Electrician and photographer for Barnyard Theatre.

Something to Say

posted Jul 19, 2013, 3:30 PM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 19, 2013, 3:54 PM ]

Brian Oglesby, Barnyard Theatre Literary Manager interviews Sarah Saltwick, author of our mainstage production, She Creatures.

Brian interviews Sarah

Robert Schulz, camera operator, apologizes for the awkward and shaky camera angle. It was late and our original interview space got taken over for additional rehearsals, so we moved out to the dressing room, which was a somewhat challenging space.

Theatre in a Barn is a bit different... (No. 4)

posted Jul 18, 2013, 2:17 AM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 18, 2013, 3:24 AM ]

Anybody who has been involved in theater for more than the briefest amount of time becomes very familiar with flat black paint.  Black is the theatrical invisibility cloak - if you aren't supposed to see it, it is painted black.  Black paint also doesn't reflect light (compared to other colors of paint), so it becomes much easier to control lighting.  And since things are often painted and repainted, black is easier to "color" match (easier, but not perfectly easy). However, at the Barn, black isn't a normally present color.  Instead, everything tends towards brown - the wood of the barn, the dirt floors, dust, and cobwebs.  So, at the Barn, our theatrical invisibility cloak is brown, flat brown.

Cans of brown paint with a brush and roller.
Photo by Robert Schulz, suggested by Brian Oglesby

A Guide to Lighting Design…in a Barn

posted Jul 15, 2013, 6:54 PM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 16, 2013, 2:53 AM ]

Light Board Operator Courtney Young and
Lighting Designer Chris Oca.
Photo by Robert Schulz

From Chris Oca, Lighting Designer:

I’ve had the privilege of working with the Barnyard Theatre on three plays:  The Sterling Affair, Psyche, and now, She Creatures.  Each play has its own unique challenges when it comes to lighting.  With Sterling Affair, it was creating a “film noir” look.  Psyche had the barn engulfed in an “inferno” during the final act.  This year is no exception and we've got a few tricks up our sleeves that we hope you’ll enjoy!

My experience with the Barnyard Theatre has taught me several things over the years that I’d like to share:

1)  Theatrical lights make great bug zappers!
2)  Never cross your wiring.  (Insert Ghostbusters joke here.)
3)  Hanging lights in 100+ degree weather (in a barn) helps no one.
4)  Who needs hazers or fog machines, when you have barn dust?
5)  Keep it simple!
6)  The best special effects are not as expensive or complicated as you think.
7)  Always think outside the box.

I’m sure I’ll learn a few more things this time around.  Stay tuned!

Mary Poppins does not appear in this production.

posted Jul 13, 2013, 1:38 PM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 13, 2013, 1:39 PM ]

Robert Schulz, Master Electrician.
Photo by Heidi Voelker.

Sometimes, towards the end of a long day out at the barn, things get a little silly.  Sometimes, the silliness happens sooner.  Regardless, while focusing lights for the Dahlia scene, a large red suitcase came to my attention (indeed, it was rather hard to miss, being large, red, and right in the middle of the platform).

After an offhand comment, Brian immediately went to the props area and produced the pink parasol, and maximum silliness was achieved.

I wonder what the ancient Greeks would have made of Mary Poppins?

Robert Schulz is Master Electrician and photographer for Barnyard Theatre.  Occasionally, he leaves the camera unguarded, and other people take advantage...

Maddy's Adventures in Guacamole: Scene 1

posted Jul 12, 2013, 1:41 AM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 12, 2013, 1:41 AM ]

From Maddy Ryen:

One of my scenes in She Creatures is as Cecilia the Selkie, who is reflecting on her time spent among humans before returning to the sea. She spends the entire monologue doing the thing she enjoyed most on earth: making and eating a bowl of guacamole. Best role ever, or best role ever? I tend to joke around Barnyard that I'll get on board with any event we do as long as there's food, but I'm glad someone's finally taken me seriously enough to give me a part where I get to eat every night.

Thing is, although I'm a guacamole fan, I've only made it a few times before, and never while delivering a 4-page monologue. Obviously, guac is not difficult to make, and I'm the only one to eat it in the scene, so if it doesn't taste good I only have myself to blame. I'm mostly worried about doing it in time with the lines without having to spend the entire scene looking at what I'm doing. It's a really great monologue, so I want everyone to be able to focus on the words and not on the inordinate difficulty I have slicing onions.

So I've started trying to make guacamole at home following the playwright's directions (she's nicely laid out the order of the ingredients and where they should be added during the lines) while repeating the monologue in my head, trying to get a sense of how long it will actually take me to make the food. Today was attempt #1. The results:

Photo by Maddy Ryen

-- Two forgotten ingredients (lime juice and cilantro, how vital are these?)

-- One cut finger (thought I had a good method for taking the pit out of the avocado, apparently not)

-- Concern about just how much I'm going to cry during a not-sad monologue simply because I'm cutting an onion

-- Too much time spent on chopping things (but I'm confident I can speed it up without upping the number of cut fingers)

-- Totally edible guacamole! I thought I'd be overwhelmed by onion and jalepeno, but it was tasty!

There's room for improvement, but so far I'm happy with my adventures in guacamole. I'll keep you updated...

(Here's a picture of the finished product, though I lack a real camera, so it looks much worse than it tastes -- how do the people who post pictures of their food to Instagram make it look so good?)

Maddy Ryen is performing in the roles of Cecilia and Helen in She Creatures.

A Week

posted Jul 9, 2013, 12:04 AM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 9, 2013, 12:05 AM ]

The Chicken Whisperer. Photo by Robert Schulz

From Brian Oglesby:

A week of rehearsal, and She Gets Naked in the End was up and down at the Grange Performing Arts Center in Sacramento.

A week. Saturday was our first rehearsal.

A week.

The valiant Alicia Hunt swept through the script with the philosophy, "Get it wrong," to stimulate creativity and invite risk-taking. And we got it wrong again and again, and it was beautiful, and then we got it right. Actors memorized lines like champions, created characters instantly, found the human and the absurd. A pressure cooker. A marathon. We got it right, shared it with an audience, a second audience, then put it away.

It was intense.

Theatre is in the moment. Art in time. Blink, and it’s gone.


So now, we head out to the barn. In two weeks, we got another show. Blink, and that one will be gone, too.

Barnyard Theatre is an Ironman; She Gets Naked was a marathon, and the rest of the race is out at the barn.

The barn is my theatrical home.

So, of course, the first thing I did when I got out there was catch the damn chicken.

I am the Chicken Whisperer.

L-R: The chase is on; Headed off at the pass; Lured into the trap; The snatch and grab. Photos by Robert Schulz

Brian Oglesby is Literary Manager and member of the Board of Barnyard Theatre, and is Author of She Gets Naked in the End.

Impossible Things Performed Live for You

posted Jul 7, 2013, 2:05 PM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 7, 2013, 2:05 PM ]

From Sarah Saltwick, author of She Creatures:

There are different ways to turn someone into a seal. Or a dragon. Or a unicorn. There is the descriptive transformation, the tool of prose, where the change happens within the reader’s imagination. In film, there are literal transformations that rely on visuals to replace one shape with another.

But in the theater, transformation is visual, metaphor, and physical. The change takes place within the audience’s imagination and on the actor’s body. I think the theater has the power to stage the impossible. At least, I hope it does. I write plays to see impossible things happen not in my mind or in front of my eyes but both. She Creatures calls for magic. It demands it. It invites it. Not just from the performers but from the audience. A willingness to believe in impossible things.

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