Parlando: The COC Blog

10/19/2010

Behind the Scenes with Barney: The Changeover

[This is the fifth in a series of guest posts by associate technical director Barney Bayliss. This post was written Oct. 8. To read all the posts in the series, click here] 

Now that Aida is open, we get into a regular rhythm of changeovers and performances. We spend a lot of time planning the changeovers, estimating how long they will take and how many people we need. Generally, the crew needed for a changeover is larger than a show crew. And changeovers take up to five hours. So from a financial perspective, we spend more time and money doing changeovers than we do on shows. 

The change from Death in Venice to Aida is complicated by the fact that we need to drain the Death in Venice pool. We do this by cracking open the Aida trap steps, which creates a slightly deeper area in the pool, and pumping the water out with two sump pumps. The actual pumping takes about 40 minutes, but the drying the top liner, folding it, and then drying the bottom liner takes a lot longer, up to an hour and a half. Clearing the Death in Venice set away does not take long, less than half an hour, so we should be down to a clean Aida floor in less than two hours. 

The next big job is the overhead swap. This is done with a clear floor, and involves flying out the Death in Venice flown scenery and overhead lighting, and bringing in the Aida stuff. This can take up to an hour, usually less, and involves some careful work by the head carpenter, head flyman, and head electrician. They have to be careful because if any lighting instruments get knocked out of focus, they need to be re-focused later.

To set Aida, we follow a strict sequence, mostly designed around the lighting that needs to be checked throughout the show. The carpenters rough in the following scenes, going backwards through the show, so the assistant lighting designer can check focus on critical lights that have been moved: act IV scene ii, act IV scene i, act III (very quickly), then the rest can be done after we have set for the top of the show.

Since Wednesday Oct. 6 was our first “normal” change into Aida, I was keeping a close watch on the clock, noting how long it took to do certain jobs, and seeing where improvements could be made.  Here are my notes from Wednesday:

  • 12:06: start pumps
  • While pumping, take down side panels
  • Take down screen
  • Take down black legs on Tabs
  • 12:28:  US (upstage) beach rolls away
  • 12:30: dropped the trap for pumping—should have been earlier
  • 12:45: started vacuuming—should have been earlier
  • 1:05: OH (overhead) swap started—pool liner still down
  • Start unbolting rubber at 1:12
  • 1:30: carps and LX (lighting) waiting on props to move LX ladders
  • 1:50: pool liner is folded up, Death in Venice clear
  • 2:00: LX ladders swung, continuing OH swap
  • 2:04: start to take out pit bridge
  • Props clearing prod tables from house
  • 2:15: setting diving board
  • 2:30: coffee
  • 2:57: OH done, setting bridge
  • 3:08: hanging black legs
  • 3:28: focus check, bridge on deck
  • 3:40: focus on act IV scene ii (tomb)
  • 3:55: focus act III (very quick)
  • 3:59: start hanging columns
  • 4:20: set for top of act I

With the final focus check, the changeover didn’t completely finish until 4:58, which is cutting it a bit close for me, but as you can see, there are some areas where I think we can improve. We get to try again tomorrow (Saturday) at noon, and then another 10 times throughout the run.

Photo: The Four Seasons Centre reflected in the Death in Venice onstage pool. Photo by Barney Bayliss, 2010.

Posted by Barney Bayliss / in Behind the Scenes / comments (1) / permalink

Kath (10/20/2010 4:27:00 PM)
Great picture!

Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001