Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The official mascot for this year's Spooktacular X!

The build for Spooktacular 2009 X Marks the Spot, kicked into high gear this past Sunday! We had a really great turnout, and I was able to keep most everyone busy for the whole evening. The spooky fish painting brigade turned out some really awesome fruit of the sea!It may not look it, but this is three 4'x8' sheets of black foamcore's worth of spooky fish! Special thanks to Kirstra, Sara, Allan, Q, Deb, KT, and Jaya!
The other half of the Sunday build goes to the two hardcore carpenters, James and Todd. They really threw their backs into making all of the platforming for the Boat/Kraken experience! What they did really moved the ball down the field, and enabled me to knock out some significant progress:

This is a photo of the Boat/Kraken Experience as it stands on Thursday 10/15 night. Its a bit confusing in the photo, but essentially its a shipwreck. There are three platforms, that people need to navigate in order to fish from the bow of the ship. I will be working on the Kraken next week, but I dont know if I will have pictures much better than this by next Thursday...

Thanks to everyone who came out to last Friday's Evil Dead the Musical Scenery Apprecation Night! We had a blast, even though I didnt get hit with any blood!?

Vern, KT and Jared prepared to get blood spilled on them! came out with some interviews of the Evil Dead Crew. Yours truly was can follow the link below for the full article containing interviews with Andrew Baughman, Melissa Baughman, Karissa Swanigan, Jen Tonon, and Eli Reeves...or you can read the interview with me, pasted below:

Jared Davis (Set Design/Construction & Painting):

Joel: Tell us a little about yourself.

Jared: Well, my day job is scene shop manager for Arlington County Cultural Affairs. I have the best job in the world. I get to work with all levels of theater, professional, semi-pro and amateur, which is really great, because I often have to switch from being mentor to student on a dime. One of the fringe benefits is that I get clandestine access to the scene shop, where I can work on non-county related shows, like the things I design for Landless (please don’t tell my boss). As far as my designer training is concerned, I have a degree in painting from Wayne State University, in Detroit, but I don’t have a degree in theater; its just something I have always done. My most formal training in scenic design was a masterclass with Ming Cho Lee in 2002, which really broke it wide open for me. I realized that design for the stage involved a collaborative process that the designer(s) and director have to go through, and the masterclass really gave me the proper tools to make that work effectively.

Since I am trained as a painter, I try to design (and paint) every set with an eye towards painting. I love painting big. I love painting backdrops. I haven’t been a fan of designs where it’s all painting textures, which is all the big name designers seem to want these days (I’m talkin’ to YOU Tony Cisek!) I find that boring for everyone involved. I’m an artist (as most scenic artists are), and I feel that it is a waste not to use the artistic talents of people who can paint stunning backdrops. Of course, I wind up painting almost everything I design, which is great because I don’t have to dumb down any of the painting. My painting bias has worked particularly well for Landless. You may not know this, but every show at the DCAC (well, every show before Evil Dead) that Landless produces – needs to pack up in 15 minutes, into a 6 foot high by 4 foot wide space, usually by two female stagehands. With those kinds of constraints, I have been forced to rely on painted scenery!

Joel: Tell us about your contribution to the design of the show.

Jared: Design, Build, Paint, Install. I have been quite intimate with this set. Landless doesn’t have a lot of stock scenery because of the limitations of the DCAC space, so I had to build (with the help of a few “all hands on deck” nights at the shop) almost everything you see on stage. I also painted all of it; largely single handedly (primer coat shout-outs to Amanda Williams and Brittney McLean). I was able to work with Melissa on the design, but really, lots of things were determined by the size of the DCAC space. There are only so many ways that this show can be configured in such a small area. It really became about giving the SFX people (Jen, Steven and Amanda) places to work their magic, and how small a space does an actor need to safely walk behind (or under) the set.

Joel: What was the most challenging thing for you to design?

Jared: Where is all of the blood going to go? We realized that it was going to be a messy show, and we couldn’t have the actors slipping on pools of blood during the dance numbers. We knew that the audience would only be able to absorb a fraction of what was going to be, er, spilled… The solution was to try to capture as much as we could underneath the deck. So, that’s why the “cabin in the woods” has a planked deck for its flooring; to allow the blood to run-off between the planks. The blood gets collected every night by removing one of the planks and sucking it out with a shop vac.

Joel: What scene was the hardest for you to design, and which scene was the most fun to design?

Jared: That’s a hard question because I didn’t approach the design from a “scene by scene” basis. I was looking at it as a whole most of the time. Because of the number of things that have to happen in any given scene, its hard to separate “hardests and favorites” because I was thinking about the big picture…It’s like a clock…when the whole thing is set in motion and works, that’s the best part. A clockmaker wouldn’t say that the minute hand was his favorite part of the clock…

If I were pressed, I might say that the basement trap door was the most difficult part to design. It absolutely needed to look like the movie…but there is no trappable space at the DCAC. So, I needed to find a height that was as level with the floor as possible, but still tall enough for an actress to be underneath, while still maintaining room for the SFX equipment, and safe enough for two people to be “pulled in”, and capable of being opened by itself…every one of those conditions needed to harmonize with the others. What we got isn’t perfect, but it is pretty close.

Joel: Tell us about creating the Splash Zone.

Jared: I wanted to remove the seats. I thought that if the DCAC was willing to let us do the show, we could have made the whole thing a lot cleaner and easier to deal with, if we removed the seats and rented plastic folding chairs, which can be hosed off after each show (we might have been able to get a few more tickets out of each show too) But, instead we are going to put down plastic, which is fine, because I think that people, in the end, are rather absorbent, and we won’t have to sacrifice comfort for cleanliness.

The Splash Zone is essential to the show. The original movies were over the top, silly, and in-your-face. Spurting blood on the audience is the live theater way of honoring that. It’s like a GWAR show, that kinda humor…but we are only using blood, not alien semen…

Joel: Where is your favorite seat in the house?

Jared: There isn’t a bad seat at the DCAC (there isn’t any room for one! *rimshot*)

Joel: What do you want audiences to take with them?

Jared: The obvious answer is fake blood… But really, I want them to take away a sense that theater doesn’t need to be limited. That is, part of Landless’ mission statement is to bring theater to the theater challenged. Well, this is the type of show that many will look down their nose at, but really, it’s the best kind of theater because it engages directly and viscerally with its audience. I hope that they take away a broadened sense of what theater can be, and the notion that “hey, there are folks in DC doing really cool stuff, and I was, just now, a part of that…and I have the bloodstains on my clothes to prove it!”

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