Trilogy Preparations

Posted on August 14, 2013

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In October, Mixed Blood Theatre will be producing Displaced Hindu Gods: A Trilogy of Plays by Aditi Brennan Kapil. Dharani Persaud is an intern assisting in preparing for the trilogy over the summer. Below is her account of talking to Production Manager Julia Gallagher about preparing the space for the Trilogy.

I’m back! And this time I brought someone with me: Julia Gallagher, production manager for Mixed Blood. She kindly let me sit down with her and ask about the wonders of her occupation. For those of you who aren’t too clear on the job description of a production manager, I asked her to describe it in five words. She came up with: scheduling, logistics, communication, space, and budget. While not necessarily in that order, they all are important aspects of a production manager’s everyday duties.

In terms of coordinating the Trilogy, Julia views it as one production with three distinct parts. Logistically she has to look at the big picture first and then go into the smaller details. The schedule is “intense” in Julia’s words, but mostly because it’s tough scheduling rehearsals when some of the actors overlap in the different Trilogy plays. Mixed Blood is an Equity Theatre, which means that they have to comply with the rules set down by Actors Equity (which is a union for actors and stage managers). Because of this, there is a set amount of hours an actor can work. Julia has to schedule in enough break time for every actor while also making sure they can be at rehearsal for both the shows they are in. She is also responsible for giving each show an equal amount of rehearsal time, and has to fit that into the equation of actor scheduling as well.

Julia is also overseeing and coordinating the reconfiguration of the theatre space for the Trilogy. This particular reconfiguration hasn’t been tried before, so it has created somewhat of an extra challenge. When everything is done, the space will have a cabaret-style set up instead of a typical theatre look. The picture below is of the floor plan, and in order to accomplish this look they are starting completely from scratch. In Julia’s words, “basically whenever you change the way the room is set up, every element of the technical production is affected,” so there is a lot of work to be done. One crew will come in and take out the current stage and seats to create a completely empty room that will then be built up again. There’s more to it than just the stage and seats, though. Another crew comes in and re-hangs all the lights in a particular way, and even the speakers will to be moved. All of this is being done to create a specific vibe for the Trilogy. And while yes, this does seem like a lot of work, Julia says it is pretty fun.

The transitions between shows are also another element that Julia oversees. Between each of the Trilogy plays, the space is prepped for the next show. On the weekdays when there is one play each evening, there is more time. On the festival-style weekends when the plays are back-to-back, it gets a bit more complicated because of time constraints. The goal is to transition between plays during fifteen-minute intermissions. Which means that Nayna (the set designer) has to take into account the transition period when designing the each set so they can each be set up within this fifteen-minute time frame. Making sure the transitions run seamlessly takes quite a bit of efficiency and creativity, and it is up to the production team to make sure this is all accomplished properly.

Ideally by the first day of tech (or even better, the first day of rehearsal) for the Trilogy, Julia will have everything organized and set up so she won’t need to do anything but wait for something to go wrong. (Just kidding, hopefully that doesn’t happen, but if it does, she’ll be free to help troubleshoot and fix the problem). Her professor in college gave her unforgettable advice when he told her, “at a certain point you want everything delegated so you’re available to help”. I asked her what happens if she messes up, and her answer was simple and confident: “I fix it.” She said that if a problem does occur you can’t backtrack and prevent the problem, even though that would be nice. Instead, she just fixes the problem and moves forward in a quick and efficient manner. And even though the opening of the Trilogy is a couple months out, she’s been working hard to make sure everything is working efficiently, up until the very end.

So there you have it. Julia plays an integral role in making everything run smoothly, and is currently in the throes of organizing the Trilogy. Her job’s catchphrase? “I’ll take care of it”. Without her we all might be witnessing those scenes in superhero movies where the villain is destroying downtown streets and buildings while the civilians run around screaming and crying. (Admit it, you’re picturing it right now, complete with your superhero of choice. Now just substitute in Julia, she’ll take care of it). So there you are: Julia Gallagher, your friendly neighborhood coordinator, fixer, and production manager extraordinaire!

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Space layout designed by Joseph Stanley.

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