KCACTF - Siena College Takes a Show on the Road

Every year, the Kennedy Center hosts a festival for college theater, and Siena’s Creative Arts Department and Stage III are participants. This past year, we were asked to bring our production of The Painting to present it to other students at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn., where the festival was taking place.

This prompted a need to re-work the set to make it mobile, and to re-work the lighting design as we wouldn’t be able to alter the lighting provided. In altering the set, we had to rebuild a few pieces, as well as find new ways to create the set that we had had. We got a new scaffolding and painted a skrim, a special kind of drop that can let you see through it depending on how it is lit.

Our crew consisted of eight student workers and two staff members. We had two passenger vans and Penske truck to bring the set with us. We left Thursday afternoon, and the two hour drive down the Thruway provided us with a great look at the sunset.

Image via Kristen Doyle.

After arriving, we checked into our hotel, ate dinner and went over to WestConn’s Visual and Performing Arts Center to load in (set up) the show. We were able to load in early on the night before performance day, since we were not competing. From about 8:30 to 12:00, we worked to get the truck unloaded and set up as much of the set as we could. We hung drapes, set up the wardrobe and some of the doors before leaving for the night.

We were back at 8:00 the next morning, and worked practically up until 1:45 to get everything set up. We built the scaffolding, fireman’s pole, cut a hole in the rug for the trapdoor, and got the chandelier set up.

Image via Kristen Doyle.

Our first performance was at 2:00pm, I was sitting under the trapdoor so that the actors could be cued for their entrances. To get to the trapdoor from backstage, we had to go downstairs, down a hall, into a place called the Trap Room (yeah, I laughed a bit too), and up a ladder to a platform. From that platform it was four steps to get onstage through the trapdoor. I sat down there for about an hour, and the only way to describe it is like sitting in a drum. It’s a big empty room below the stage, so whenever people jump or stomp, it echoes all around the room.

We had a three hour break and came back at 6:00pm to prepare for our 8:00 show. Both shows ran smoothly, and the other students loved it. We showed fun, different theater to a group of theater students, and they ate it right up. Hearing how much they loved the show made up for the lack of sleep for those two days.

Images via KCACTF Region 1.

After the 8:00pm show ended, we began load out, which is taking down the set and re-loading the truck, to head back to Siena. Luckily, we were done by about 11:30, and a few of us had a celebratory midnight snack at Denny’s.

We left the next day to head back to campus, having had the experience of taking a show on the road, a mini-tour if you will. We were able to work in another venue, and have the experience of working with other theater people in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to staying within our bubble at Siena.