Friday, September 28, 2007

Walk a Mile in My Shoes


I am (and Robb used to be) a theatrical artisan. I don't mean the title to sound snobby or elitist or unnecessarily obscure. What I mean is that I make things by hand.

We try to be very efficient in this pursuit, but some projects are just time-consuming.

At the moment, we're working on a new play by the writer and director Mary Zimmerman (winner of both the MacArthur "genius" award and the Tony award). The set for this show, which is designed by Dan Osling, seems very simple and elegant -- just a huge wooden box -- but, oh boy, is it labor-intensive.

I started wondering just how labor-intensive one part of the project was and just why my feet hurt so much at the end of a day. We are custom-staining hundreds of poplar planks, which will become the main surface of the show's set. For each board, we

pick the board off the stack, and lay it on sawhorses
sand the board, walking up and down the board four times
wipe off the dust, walking up and down the board two times
apply stain, walking up and down the board two times
smooth out the stain with a natural bristle brush, walking up and down the board four times
further smooth the stain, walking up and down the board four more times
take the board off the sawhorses, and lay it in the floor to dry.

We do this for two layers of stain and three layers of sealer.

I clipped on a pedometer yesterday and then did some calculations. To complete this project, the scenic artists will have walked a cumulative distance of over sixty-one miles. That's the distance from New York City to Bridgeport Connecticut. Greater than the distance from Washington to Baltimore. Greater than the distance from Oakland to San Jose.

When I told him this statistic, Robb and I marveled over how physical his work used to be before the accident. When I told the other painters on the job this number, it made them all tired.


colormecynical said...

do those have tongue and groove joints or is that just an optical illusion?

yikes on the rather...pedestrian nature of this project. Only you would amuse yourself by calculating that distance! too funny. who needs the gym?

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Not tongue and groove...just rounded over.

Anonymous said...

It's going to be beautiful, as always!

...side note...what music does your crew listen too while painting/constructing/making/crafting/noshing?

The wood has the wonderful color of bee barf!


Ryan said...

That's also the same distance from the start of the Appalachian Trail (Springer Mountain) to the first border crossing (Georgia/North Carolina). It's a good moment when you realize you've walked to a DIFFERENT STATE! Yee-ha! =) It still excites me. =)

Music Woman said...

Wow! I would have thought that Bridgeport and NYC would have been closer together than Washington and Baltimore......

You learn something every day!

Get some rest! I know I would need it after all of that walking :-)

Tizy said...

At the end your floor will look and feel still more beautiful to you and your crew because of all the work you guys put in it! Good looking floor! Gee, now I know why I'm always tired and have a gym membership that I probably use three times in a month...if I am really lucky!

Anonymous said...

When you guys are done with the show, will your floor boards travel around with the production, or could you donate it to Habitat for Humanity? It seems like an awful lot of work for something to just get tossed out eventually.

This is a good question, actually. What DOES happen when all that theatre stuff is finally done being used? Non-theatre people want to know.


Fauxho said...

These boots were made for walkin..and thats just what they'll of these days these boots will walk all over....Your newly painted floor..XOXO...get some sleep..we miss you..Fauxho


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