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15 February, 2011

Working on Vancouver Island as a theatre tech, you get used to a wide variety of houses: the Erector-set thing that is the arena stage, pouring out of trucks, throwing steel links into the sky; the spacious mid Seventies modernity of the Cowichan, where the temporary soon becomes a twenty-year fixture; the Macpherson’s strange lobby, tacked-on fly systems, and humorous allusions to wings; the Belfry’s awesome maze of studios, shops, storage spaces, offices, and stairwells (and excellent sit-down light grid…); the frightening improvisations of some of the more isolated or amateur houses.

The crown jewel, though, is the Royal Theatre. One of the last few hemp houses in North America, using tall-ship style belaying pins and sandbags, clove-hitched wooden battens, and a great deal of muscle power in place of the arbor counterweight system found in newer spaces, the Royal gives even the lowliest grip-carpenter a new appreciation for ropework.

For the flyman, it’s a journey back in time (check out the FB gallery). Tying off five or ten lines to a belaying pin, figure eight, then again, half-hitch on the last turn over the pin; grunting pieces out to “show out” so as to counterweight them. Catching a nap on a nest of sand bags, while the carpenters and lighting types haggle over use of the deck.

Holding the pin while someone lets a set piece in, lest the lines, running around the pin, rotate it out of the rail.

Wearing gloves. Ditching the gloves. Putting the gloves back on. Discovering that the palms were worn glassy smooth on that last pull. Ditching gloves for a final time, resolving to bleed rather than let the line slip. Wishing you got enough fly calls to develop calluses, and some actual ability with the lines.

Trying to remember the order of the lines: white short, green short-centre, red centre, blue long-centre, and black long-line. Hoping that, today, neither you, nor some carp, will sky one of the lines, running it through the blocks, and requiring someone to amble about on the grid re-threading everything.

Fighting with elderly cast trim blocks; steampunk-tinged devices: two pieces, one with five channels and a clip-off point for sandbags, the other with five sets of paired, sprung teeth; the two being held together with nasty, eternally stripped bolts and wing nuts.

Discovering that some hundred-pound bags weigh more than others. Playing “guess the weight” with the old-pattern unmarked bags.

The place is outrageously cool to work in.



15 February, 2011

Is awesome. Is like warm, liquid sleep.  Is the yang to beer’s yin. Is, by now, a permanent part of my blood chemistry. Is a critical ingredient for the production of all forms of theatre. Is good cold, if you’re desperate enough.

Is now going to cost more.


Blog mechanics

28 December, 2010

Something I’ve noticed, on everything from Dawn of the Internet sites like LiveJournal to Word Press and Blogger, is a great difficulty in getting at a blogger’s older posts.

So… I’ve found this great blog. Read the current stuff. Writer seems to have their act together. Can I hit a nice little “Oldest” button, like every webcomic on the planet has? No: needs must I either wrestle with some sort of vile archive interface (that’d be you, LJ), work backwards page by page, or muck about in the address bar.

Eh. Not exactly an Earth-shattering problem.

The Fringe Café

28 December, 2010

This joint.

Found here…

Great spot – sister introduced me to it. Good beer, decent spread of what I’m told is good Scotch, plenty of character to the place and the staff, lots of nooks and crannies to hole up in with friends, and no “plastic pub” garbage. Nice blend of raucous partiers and neighbourhood types.

Christmas: Epilogue

28 December, 2010

Definitely a good one this year, full of friends and family!

Now… New Years… will there be snow? Partying? Crazy things, or sleeping through it all? Wait and see, I guess.


19 December, 2010

Was going to go on about Christmas in schools, bland Winter Holidays, and so on… but that’s been done to death, and I have nothing good to add.

May yours be merry, and full of friends and family!

Flying Snakes

6 December, 2010
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And, in the Nature Rocks and Evolution Is Cool files, Chrysopelea paradise, the various paradise tree snakes, enjoy a little press time.