Category Archives: Uncategorized

London’s 8th Annual Horror Theatre Festival

spooky scene

For the 8th year, London’s Horror Festival has finally been announced. Hosted at the Red Lion Theatre with over 30 productions, this Halloween season will have theatergoers and horror lovers chilling with fright, and extremely impressed.

London’s Horror Film will be offering dramas, comedies, musicals, and spoken word about all things spooky starting October 7th. Each year there is a theme for their annual playwright competition, and this year they are honoring Mary Shelley for the competition of “Women in Horror.” Her most renowned creation, Frankenstein, has its 200th year anniversary in 2018.

Catch tons of theater productions that truly push the limits of live production and performance. You are bound to find something you love, and something to make you really think when you attend a festival like this.

Scary ghost scene

Theater festivals are an awesome time for people to come together and bond over a common interest. When it’s a special reason for celebration, like a themed or holiday theater festival like this one, it can be even more interesting. Though this festival is in London, we can tune in and see what this annual horror fest will bring theater-goers and thespians.

If you’re REALLY into festivals, even horror fests, this might be something you want to follow on social media, inquire about, and maybe even travel to see.

Jackolanterns

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 120 years! Come to us with your theatrical needs to enhance your production with well over 1,500 backdrops, drapes, lames and scrims to choose from. Call us at (978) 682-5757 today!

Thrill of Victory, Agony of Defeat Part II

With the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals all wrapped up, here are some more sports themed stage productions.

 

Rocky (Boxing)

Rocky the Musical (originally Rocky: Das Musical) is a 2012 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, with a book by Thomas Meehan, adapted from a screenplay by Sylvester Stallone. The show held its world premiere in Hamburg in 2012 and opened on Broadway on March 4, 2014 at the Winter Garden Theatre and closed on August 17, 2014 after 28 previews and 188 performances. The show roughly follows the plot of the 1976 film Rocky.  The show featured 20 original songs, with additional music taken from the original film series including “Eye of the Tiger” and “Gonna Fly Now”.

The show’s set, which for Broadway cost $4.3 million, is set around a mostly bare stage which represents the Gym that Rocky trains in. The production uses sliding box like sets to represent the homes of the characters and the sliding element goes onto include a full sized regulation boxing ring.  Audience members seated within the front stalls Golden Circle seating section, are escorted onto the stage for the final 20 minutes to sit on bleacher style seats, in doing so this allows the boxing ring to enter the auditorium and sit in rows A-F, bringing the audience close to the final fight scene.  The production did win a Tony Award for Set Design.

 

Lombardi (Football)

Lombardi is a play by Eric Simonson, based on the book When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss.  I’ve read the book.  Unbelievable life.

The play follows Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi through a week in the 1965 NFL season as he attempts to lead his team to the championship. (The Packers won the NFL championship that year, which would be the last season before the introduction of the Super Bowl.) A “Look Magazine” reporter, Michael McCormick, wants to “find out what makes Lombardi win”. However, players on the team refuse to be interviewed, wary of giving up information. He goes instead to Lombardi’s wife, Marie, for answers. Meanwhile, in a flashback, Lombardi frets over his lack of promotion and contemplates quitting football. His wife reveals that the family had an emotional move to Green Bay, Wisconsin when Lombardi joined the Packers.

Lombardi ends up yelling at Michael in front of the team, prompting both to storm off. Linebacker and place kicker Dave Robinson comforts Michael at a local bar, sharing stories about his initial impressions of the coach, the “honor of being barked at” by Lombardi, and the equality established on the team. After more positive insight from running back, option quarterback and kicker Paul Hornung and fullback Jim Taylor, Michael decides to attend the next game. As he narrates what happened at the game, the Packers win.

After he writes his news story, Michael reveals to Lombardi that he is quitting “Look Magazine” to form his own publishing company. Lombardi congratulates him on his move to independence and celebrates the win with Michael and Marie. Michael realizes that Lombardi is “the most imperfect, perfect man” he ever met.

Lombardi officially premiered on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre on October 21, 2010, after previews beginning on September 23. The creative team includes direction by Thomas Kail, sets by David Korins, costumes by Paul Tazewell, and lighting by Howell Binkley. This production is being produced by Tony Ponturo and Fran Kirmser. Lombardi closed on May 22, 2011, after 30 previews and 244 performances.

Due to the Packers winning Super Bowl XLV in 2011, their fourth Super Bowl but their second since Lombardi was head coach, the show’s producers were “hoping for a halo effect at the box office.”  Patrick Healy wrote in The New York Times: “The Packers’ victory on Sunday lent “Lombardi” plenty of visibility before and after the Fox broadcast of the game. One FOX commentator, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, who had seen the play, talked up the play before kickoff and during the postgame show he said, ‘I think Lombardi the play just got an extension on Broadway.’ ” Healy also wrote that the show had not recouped its $3 million investment, and while producer Tony Ponturo said that the show was scheduled to run until June 19, 2011, it ended its run early. Producers would not comment on whether or not the play had earned back its production budget.

The original Broadway cast included Dan Lauria as Vince Lombardi, Judith Light as Marie Lombardi, Keith Nobbs as Michael McCormick, Bill Dawes as Paul Hornung, Robert Christopher Riley as Dave Robinson, and Chris Sullivan as Jim Taylor. Light was nominated for a 2011 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in Lombardi.

 

 

The Changing Room (Rugby)

The Changing Room is a 1971 play by David Storey, set in a men’s changing room before, during and after a rugby league football game. It premiered at the Royal Court Theatre on 9 November 1971, directed by Lindsay Anderson. The 1973 Broadway production, directed by Michael Rudman, won several awards including the New York Drama Critics’ Circle award for Best Play and the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor for John Lithgow.  After three previews, the Broadway production, directed by Michael Rudman, opened on 6 March 1973 at the Morosco Theatre, where it ran for 192 performances.

At the play’s core is a semi-pro Northern England rugby league team. During the week, its members are peaceable men toiling away at mindless, working class jobs. On Saturday, they prepare for gory combat on the playing field. The changing room is where they perform their pre-game initiation rites, strip down, loosen muscles, and get into their uniforms. After the match they return, often broken, muddy, and bloody, regretting their loss or giddy with victory in the communal shower. There is little in the way of plot, but Storey engages his audience with his ability to dissect his characters’ hurts, hopes, desires, and fighting instincts.

Choosing Your Next Production

Cast on Stage

If you have a theater group and you’re constantly putting on productions, read on for inspiration in choosing your next production. We’ve put together a guide to choosing your next production for your theater community. Here are a few things we think are important to think about when brainstorming your possibilities:

Anastasia

Deciding on the Type of Production
Do you want to do a musical? Do you want to do a situational comedy or a dramatic play? Do you want to perform a greek tragedy? A historical play or a romantic play? There are many subsets of plays and types of productions. When you narrow down your goal, you can then choose a script.

Thinking of your Actors
Deciding on a play depends on your strengths and weaknesses as a theater community. Sometimes the tell-tale signs of your next production can be evident through your actors’ strong suits. Make sure you have the right type of actors available to be matched with the right roles.

Spider-Man

Accessing a Script
Be sure you have access to ordering scripts for your community. Are there enough scripts available for the production of your choice? Be sure that you’re choosing from plays that are accessible, and that you have the rights to get ahold of the script.

Look to your Inventory
Looking at the props you already have and the props you need to buy can help you decide on your next production. If you have a smaller budget, and it’s always helpful for theater communities to spend as little as possible, you can look at what you already own. You may not need to buy much if you have a good selection and you use a little creativity.

Tarzan

Time and Duration
Think about how much time each production will take to rehearse and choreograph. You need to think about time from the beginning of your first rehearsal to your last dress rehearsal. Be sure that the plays you’re considering all fall within your time frame for preparation.  

Set Hands and Available Crew
Some productions take more help behind the scenes and backstage. Other productions require less stage help and more actors on stage. Every production is different, so being sure you have enough set hands and available help is something you’ll definitely want to think through before choosing a play.

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart can provide you with the best quality backdrops for your productions. Visit our website to check out our inventory, and reach out to our staff with any questions.

Ethos, Logos, and Pathos

Ethos Pathos Logos Chart

Aristotle coined the terms ethos, logos, and pathos as modes of persuasion. These are used in theatre, in literature, and tons of other places. When actors are learning acting styles and methods, they learn about the three modes of persuasion to better their skills and create a more authentic production. Read on to learn more about the three modes of persuasion.

Ethos is the ethical appeal, and it means to convince an audience of the author’s credibility or character. An actor would use ethos to prove to his audience that he’s credible and worth listening to. An actor appealing to ethos would use the same language as their character, and try to dress exactly like them.

Actor in Wig with Glasses and bandana

Logos is the appeal to logic, meaning to convince the audience by using logic or reason. An actor may cite facts or statistics. An actor may appeal to logos by presenting logical or well rounded points, may cite important information, or may refer to historical analogies for explanations and proof.

Pathos is the emotional appeal, meaning to convince an audience through appealing on emotional levels. Actors may evoke sympathy to try make the audience feel how the author intended for them to feel. They aim to get a certain emotion out of their actions when appealing to pathos. Pathos can be expressed by actors through language, emotional tones, or emotional events or implications.

These forms of persuasion immensely help actors get into character. Persuasion helps the audience to believe and understand the plot and action of the production. Strong productions rely on the effective use of these persuasion techniques. By studying each one, actors can learn how to better their styles and increase their overall credibility while on stage.

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart can help you with your backdrop needs. Visit our website to learn about our offerings, accessories, and handmade backdrops. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our staff with any questions.

Thrill of Victory, Agony of Defeat

Sports.  It has drama, competition, and emotion.  A perfect recipe for a Broadway show.  Sports has been the backdrop for many movies, tv shows, and musicals.  We will take a look at a few classics and maybe a few not so classics.  But nonetheless, the marriage of sports and Broadway has gone on for a very long time, and it’s easy to see why.

 

Damn Yankees (Baseball)

Perhaps the most classic sports musical ever made, Damn Yankees is a musical comedy with a book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop, music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. The story is a modern retelling of the Faust legend set during the 1950s in Washington, D.C., during a time when the New York Yankees dominated Major League Baseball. It is based on Wallop’s novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant.

The show ran for 1,019 performances in its original 1955 Broadway production. Adler and Ross’s success with it and The Pajama Game seemed to point to a bright future for them, but Ross suddenly died of chronic bronchiectasis at age 29 several months after it opened.

Joe Boyd, an aging Washington Senators fan, would sell his soul for the Senators to beat the New York Yankees and win the pennant. Enter Applegate, who offers to turn Boyd into Joe Hardy, a powerful young baseball player, in exchange for his soul. When Boyd agrees, he becomes Hardy and leads the Senators on a winning streak. When he starts to miss his wife, though, and questions the deal, Applegate sends temptress Lola into the mix.

Hey!  As a Red Sox fan, I might have considered this after the 2003 season!

 

Good News (Football)

Another classic Broadway musical, Good News is a musical with a book by Laurence Schwab and B.G. DeSylva, lyrics by DeSylva and Lew Brown, and music by Ray Henderson.  The show opened on Broadway in 1927, the same year as Show Boat, but though its plot was decidedly old-fashioned in comparison to Show Boat’s daring storyline, it was also a hit. Good News spawned two films, an unsuccessful 1974 Broadway revival, and a 1993 updated production by Music Theatre of Wichita, which created a largely new libretto and made changes to the score, It proved to be DeSylva, Brown, and Henderson’s biggest hit out of a string of topical musicals.

World War I is over, the Roaring Twenties have arrived, women have won the right to vote, and college campuses, such as fictional Tait College, are as much a social scene as an academic one. Football is the big game, and star player Tom Marlowe is a prime catch. All the girls are interested in Tom, and vice-versa, although one society climber seems to have him in hand. Studious part-time school librarian Connie Lane doesn’t seem to have a chance and stays out of the fray. When Marlowe fails a final exam, he needs a tutor to help him pass so he can play in the big game on Saturday. Connie is selected to help keep his nose to the grindstone, and the two fall for each other. The couples’ romance can only endure if the team wins the big game.

 

Golden Boy (Boxing)

Golden Boy is a 1964 musical with a book by Clifford Odets and William Gibson, lyrics by Lee Adams, and music by Charles Strouse.  The Broadway production was directed by Arthur Penn, choreographed by Donald McKayle, and starred Sammy Davis Jr and opened on October 20, 1964 at the Majestic Theatre, where it ran for 568 performances and twenty-five previews.

Based on the 1937 play of the same name by Odets, it focuses on Joe Wellington, a young man from Harlem who, despite his family’s objections, turns to prizefighting as a means of escaping his ghetto roots and finding fame and fortune. He crosses paths with Mephistopheles-like promoter Eddie Satin and eventually betrays his manager Tom Moody when he becomes romantically involved with Moody’s girlfriend Lorna Moon.  In Odets’ original book, Joe was a sensitive would-be surgeon fighting in order to pay his way through college, but careful to protect his hands from serious damage so he could achieve his goal of saving the lives of blacks ignored by white doctors.  In an ironic twist, the hands he hoped would heal kill a man in the ring.

 

Magic/Bird (Basketball)

Magic/Bird is a play by Eric Simonson about basketball stars Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers and Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, their rise from college basketball to the NBA and super stardom, and eventually the Olympic Dream Team, their team and personal rivalries and ultimately their long-running friendship. The play premiered on Broadway at the Longacre Theater on March 21, 2012.  It has the full support of the NBA with Johnson and Bird prominently supportive.  And, according to the producers: “At the heart of one of the fiercest rivalries in sports, two of the greatest athletes of all-time battled for multiple championships and the future of their sport…Johnson and Bird, went head to head, electrified the nation, reinvigorated the NBA, and turned their rivalry into the greatest and most famous friendships in professional sports. With classic NBA footage prominently designed throughout, Magic/Bird transports the audience into the heart of their matchup.

Proper Warm-Up Routines

Actors on stage in a scene

 Every performer has their own personal routine when warming up before rehearsal or for a show. Some directors like when the performers warm up together, and think it can be helpful for creating a cast bond. Though warm ups may differ depending on whether you have rehearsal or a production that day. Check out these ideas for warm ups.

Stretching your Muscles

When warming up for rehearsal you should still be putting your all into warm ups. It’s the time when you feel out your body and get comfortable with your character, so putting your all into warm ups is very important. It exercises your body and stretches you out just like muscles before working out. You wouldn’t think, but there’s actually a muscle that actors workout called your diaphragm that you stretch like any other muscle to perform your best.

Microphone held by hand with dark background

Individual or Group?

Try individual warm ups and group warm ups. Anything goes for rehearsals as long as they’re really working you out. Stick with your individual routine, and allow yourself to warm up as you will to get to know your character the best you can.

Routines

When it comes closer to the opening night of the production, work through some group warm up activities that you’ve practiced. Make a routine of doing group warm ups as opening night slowly approaches. These group activities help boost morale, and increase chemistry and bonds between cast members.

Actor looking off into distance

Experience Helps Warm-Ups

As you gain experience with different types of productions, warming up becomes easier. It will make more sense as to which warm up routine should be done with which type of productions/characters.

Next time you’re planning your set, consider Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart. Call us at (978) 682-5757 or visit our website at https://charleshstewart.com/

 

I Saw the Strangest Thing On Broadway

Has anyone seen a truly strange play or musical?  What’s the strangest one you’ve heard of?  Here, we will look at a few of the strangest plays or musicals out there.  Some you may have heard of, and some, maybe not.

 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show – Wallpaper #1

Rocky Horror Picture Show

We all have heard of it.  We all don’t really understand it.  We all know it has a cult following with people dressing up like the characters.  But what is it about?  The story centers on a young engaged couple whose car breaks down in the rain near a castle where they seek a telephone to call for help. The castle or country home is occupied by strangers in elaborate costumes celebrating an annual convention. They discover the head of the house is Dr. Frank N. Furter, an apparent mad scientist who actually is an alien transvestite who creates a living muscle man, Rocky, in his laboratory. The couple are seduced separately by the mad scientist and eventually released by the servants who take control.  The musical was adapted into a film in 1975 and still enjoys success to this day…but I don’t get it.

 

Urintown: The Musical

Urinetown: The Musical is a satirical, comedy musical that premiered in 2001, with music by Mark Hollmann, lyrics by Hollmann and Greg Kotis, and book by Kotis. It satirizes the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, and municipal politics. The show also parodies musicals such as The Threepenny Opera, The Cradle Will Rock and Les Misérables, and the Broadway musical itself as a form.  Does sound strange, right?  Well, not until you realize that it all revolves around—you guessed it—going to the bathroom.  Due to a twenty year drought and a severe water shortage, all restroom activities are regulated.  No more private toilets only public ones.  You have to pay to go to the bathroom.  There are strict laws that if broken gets you sent to a “penal colony” called Urinetown…..

 

Octomom: The Musical

Do I really need to write anything about this?…

I will mention one thing, when the show opened, the producers left nine seats open just in case.

 

Triassic Parq

The novel and film Jurassic Park told from the perspective of the dinosaurs. A clan of genetically engineered female dinosaurs (played by male and female actors) is thrown into chaos when one of the female dinosaurs spontaneously turns male. Originally directed by Marshall Pailet and presented Off-Broadway at the Soho Playhouse in 2012. The original cast featured Alex Wyse (Velociraptor of Innocence), Wade McCollum (Velociraptor of Faith), Lindsay Nicole Chambers (Velociraptor of Science), Shelley Thomas (T-Rex 1), Claire Neumann (T-Rex 2), Brandon Espinoza (Mime-a-saurus), Lee Seymour (Morgan Freeman) and Zak Sandler (Pianosaurus).  Originally produced in 2010 at the NY International Fringe Festival under the title “Jurassic Parq: The Broadway Musical” where it won “Best Overall Musical/Production.” After Off-Broadway, it was slightly re-written and presented at the Chance Theater in Orange County where it won the Ovation Award for “Best Production of a Musical (Intimate Theater)” in addition to two other awards.

How Does Set Design Influence a Production?

When you’re hosting a production, the set in which you design is a predominant aspect in determining how your audience will perceive your show. Sometimes the best way to get exactly what you want means designing yourself. If you have resources to work with, consider these ideas.

There are many questions and factors that go into planning and designing a set. Budgeting details need to be worked out as well as available work hours for crew to get going. When purchasing supplies, you of course want to make the best decisions for most affordable price.

Designing a perfect set and making things look the way you imagined doesn’t have to be expensive and pricy. When you plan details out, you can categorize elements of the set design process: which things you can do yourself, which elements you are able to rent, and which you must purchase. Then, deciding what to spend money on and what to build yourself comes naturally, thinking so

Renting backdrops and props can be make building the set easier. You’re able to spend less by returning something you may not use again. Renting companies provide help, answer questions and take really good care of their equipment so you know you’ll be getting quality designs.  

A set is the elements of the stage in which the actors interact with. It must be the perfect medium between enough detail, and not too distracting. What goes into your set will be directly related to your production. The backdrop is a very important aspect of the set design in which choosing can be vital to a shows success. You wouldn’t want to choose something inappropriate that doesn’t match your theme, colors that are too distracting, something too dismal, etc.

Movable or mobile elements of your set will help make things easy to take down and thus make more time available for other efforts. When planning the design of a set, the most efficient and movable objects and props are the most ideal.

The more time and effort you spend planning set design, the more easily executed the show will seem. Productions will directly benefit from proper set planning, and finding the best ways to easily and effectively bring your ideas to life.

Next time you’re beginning to plan your next set design, consider how it may be beneficial for you to rent a backdrop from Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart. Call us at (978) 682-5757 or visit our website at https://charleshstewart.com/

DO NOT Do This!

Here are a few things to keep in mind while renting backdrops.  More specifically, here are a few things you shouldn’t do when renting backdrops.  The big thing to remember is that you don’t own the backdrops.  Treat them as if you did, but remember that they are not yours and that other customers are waiting to possibly use the backdrops after you are finished renting them.  They want the backdrops in as mint condition as possible for their shows too.  So with that being said, here are some hints to avoid any damage and extra fees.

DO NOT nail, staple, tack, or pin the backdrops in any way.  It says this right on the contract!  Here’s what happens.  Nails, staples, tacks, and pins create holes.  The stress of the weight could rip that pin and create a huge problem.  Over time, the small holes from the pins and staples add up deteriorating the integrity of the fabric.  So no adding company logos or cardboard cutouts such as stars or clouds directly to the backdrops.  And no adding Velcro pieces either.

DO NOT cut or alter the backdrops in any way.  Again, it says this right on the contract.  Believe it or not, we have received backdrops back from customers literally cut into pieces.  We have also had backdrops returned with new additions painted on the backdrop that were not on the original design.  Remember, you don’t own these.  If the backdrop you see on our website does not fit your needs, then ask us if we have something else.  Do not take it upon yourself to change it because you think it would look better with your idea on it.  We design our drops to fit a myriad of different shows to satisfy as many customers as possible.

DO NOT lay the backdrops face down on the stage.  This was covered in a previous blog entry, but it can be mentioned again.  Always place the backdrops face up for hanging and folding.  This keeps the painted side clean.  On this note, DO NOT forget to sweep your stage before you lay the backdrops on the stage.  The backdrops are not to be used as a broom to sweep your stage.

If you need to add rope extensions to hang the backdrop, DO NOT forget to remove them when you are done.  Also, leave the original tie lines attached to the backdrop, which leads to my next point.  DO NOT cut off the original tie lines when removing the backdrop from the pipe.  There’s no need to tie sailor knots that are impossible to untie.  Simply tie the lines like a shoelace.  There are typically 40+ ties per backdrop.  The shoelace knots will hold.

While we’re talking about hanging the backdrops, if you need to use a cherry picker to hang the backdrop, DO NOT let the backdrop hit any of the greased parts on the machine.  Grease is impossible to remove or camouflage especially if you’re using a white scrim or cyclorama curtain.  Make sure there’s a person on the ground monitoring this.

Lastly, DO NOT get too close to the backdrops when they are hanging.  Performers should not get too close to the backdrops while on stage.  We don’t want them tripping over or grabbing on to the backdrops for fear that someone could get hurt.  If you have built sets, try to keep them as far away from the backdrop as possible.  When I get a backdrop back with a large rip on it, it is usually because it got caught on a built set, or it caught on the strip lights up high.  So, if you can help it, place your built sets as far away from the backdrops as possible and hang the backdrops as far away from the strip lights as you can so that they can’t get caught on that either.  I know it happens.  Just be wary of it.

These are basics to help keep our backdrops in good condition.  We know that 99% of the time any damage occurs it is not intentional.  We simply want our backdrops to last and to be in great condition for as long as possible and for as many customers as possible.

How To Fold and Pack a Backdrop

“Using a backdrop for my show makes scenery a whole lot easier than making my own scenery.  But I have no idea how to fold it back up to fit in the box.”  This is a common comment that we get here at Charles H Stewart.  So, I thought I would reiterate what comes with every backdrop we rent.  Instructions on how to fold and package a backdrop and why we do it this way.

When you open up one of our backdrops, you will see that the box is labelled in Sharpie pen on the ends with the id number and description of the backdrop that is inside the box.  Obviously, the backdrop is also marked with the same information.  You will also notice that the backdrop is wrapped in a plastic bag and that there are loose pieces of cardboard on the top and bottom of the box.  There is also a “How to Fold a Backdrop” instruction sheet and a “Caution: Save Plastic Bag” sheet in the box.  Lastly, on the outside of the box, there will be a plastic pouch.  Inside the pouch are your prepaid UPS return label(s). (In some instances, there will be no pouch with the return labels.  They will be emailed to you if this is the case.)

When you open the box to unfold the backdrop, you need to save all of these pieces for repackaging when you are done.  So save the box, the bag, the cardboard pieces, the instructions, and most importantly, the return labels.  If any of these should be misplaced, no worries.  Any box or bag will do for shipping.  And, we can always send new return shipping labels via email too.  It’s no big deal.

However, what is a big deal is that before you lay out the backdrops for hanging, please, SWEEP THE STAGE!  This keeps the backdrops from getting dirty.  Dirt is very difficult to clean off of scrims, cycloramas, and velours.  Also, make sure that the stage isn’t wet.  Water will also damage the backdrops.

So, you hang the backdrops and have your show.  Now, it’s time to take the backdrops down and pack them up for shipping.  Before you take them down, you have to do one important thing.  SWEEP THE STAGE!  And make sure the stage isn’t wet.  Also, please lay the backdrops on the stage with the painted side up and not face down.  Once again, this prevents the backdrops from getting dirty.

Here’s where those two instruction sheets come in handy.  First, you have to fold a backdrop.  We have a preferred way on how we like the backdrops folded, but we know that there are some very experienced stage hands that do not fold the backdrops the way we prefer.  That’s OK.  As long as it folded neatly and it fits in the box, we’re cool with that (just don’t roll it in a ball and stuff it in the box!).  But we like the backdrops folded accordion style because when the backdrop is folded and placed in the box, we can see the id number right on top for a quick check in especially during our busy season when time isn’t our friend.  Plus, our method is fast and only takes two people.  Basically, while the backdrop is face up on the stage, one person goes to the top corner and one person goes to the bottom corner on the same side.  While crouching down like a catcher, each person reaches out an arm length and pulls the backdrop to the corner.  Repeat this until the backdrop is about two feet wide.  The person at the bottom takes the bottom and folds it up to the top.  Repeat until you see the backdrop taking the shape of the box.

Once you are done folding, wrap it in the plastic bag.  Why?  The plastic bag protects the backdrop from dirt and more importantly dampness just in case the box itself happens to get wet.  If we get a backdrop back damaged due to wetness and it is not wrapped in plastic, then you will be responsible for the damage.  On top of that, if another customer is waiting for the backdrop and we cannot get it to them due to your negligence, then you would be responsible for lost rental charges while the backdrop is being repaired.  Now, this information isn’t meant to scare you.  But it is mentioned to show the importance of packing the backdrops up appropriately.

Before you put the wrapped backdrop in the box, you need to do a couple of things.  First, place one of the cardboard pieces across the bottom of the box with the two instruction sheets.  Second, match up the labelled backdrop with the labelled box.  If you have rented multiple backdrops from us (we’ll call them backdrop # 0001 and # 0002), you want to make sure that backdrop # 0001 is in the box labelled # 0001 and that backdrop # 0002 is in the box labelled # 0002.  Third, after you put the backdrop(s) into the correct box, place the other cardboard piece across the top of the backdrop.  Close and seal the box.  Last, place the UPS return label on the boxes.  In the lower left corner of each return shipping label will be the corresponding backdrop id number.  So again, match the # 0001 label with the # 0001 box and the # 0002 label with the # 0002 box.  Now, you have matched the labelled backdrop with the labelled box and placed the matching return label on the box (# 0001 backdrop is in the # 0001 box with the # 0001 shipping label).  Why is this important?  Because sometimes we ask that you forward our backdrops to different locations.  We will make sure that your UPS return labels are addressed correctly, but if a backdrop is not coming back to Charles H Stewart, we want to make sure that you send the correct backdrop to the correct location.  We do not want you to place backdrop # 0001 inside the # 0002 box and vice versa.  Imagine you receive your backdrop.  You’re expecting backdrop # 0002.  You get the box, and it’s labelled # 0002.  But, you get to the theater on Friday night, open it up, and backdrop # 0001 is in the box.  Not good.  Just match the three numbers even if everything is shipping back to us!

Here are the two instruction sheets that are in each of our backdrop boxes: