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Monthly Archives: February 2013

8 02, 2013

Eric Church and the Power of a Kabuki

By |February 8th, 2013|Clients, Education, Projects|1 Comment

What is a Kabuki Drop and why are they important? We have several blog posts about what the literal meaning of a kabuki, but what does a kabuki do for a fan in the audience? Instead of giving you the nerdy theatrical/production terms of what a kabuki is, I want to give you, the reader, a little snippet of what the Kabuki means for me, the fan.

Back in November I had the privilege of going to one of the hottest country tickets in town-Eric Church. Many of my co-workers know that country music is not one of the genres of music I particularly enjoy even though I am from the actual Cowboy State and grew up in the town founded by the original wild west cowboy entertainer Buffalo Bill Cody. But there are some artists and bands in the country genre that I enjoy – especially in a live performance – and Eric Church is definitely one of them.

For me, though, seeing a live show is more than just the music. Sometimes it’s worth going to a show to be entertained not just by the music, but also by the production design and the infinite people watching, which for this show, was a complete gold mine in both regards. Not only was I surrounded by California ‘Cowboys’ drinking loads of beer while going crazy over pyro, but I was also surrounded by the talented production crew who took me under their wing for the night and gave me the behind the scenes look at what they had in store for fans before the show had even begun.

I loved seeing in action the large Kabuki drapes that we made for the tour – one large Kabuki at 38′ h x 60′ w along with 2 smaller ones at 38′ h x 17′ w, all in lightweight FR Black Rip Stop.  Amidst the flames, the beer, the wild crowd, the lasers, the fog machines, the backdrop changes, and the speaker stacks that had the power to thud a fat man’s heart attack back into rhythm, the kabuki gracefully floats in to bring an instant calm over the crowd for a lovely acoustical interlude that was sure to make all the girls feel like Eric was singing directly to their broken heart strings. A kabuki creates a visual barrier, as well as an emotional one. It’s a seducer of a drape. It creates mystery. It provokes curiosity and heightens expectation.

The other awesome thing about Kabuki drops is that they have a plethora of uses. They can be projected on (front or rear projection), lit from the bottom, lit from the top, lit from behind, They can be used just to mask off an area, or mask off the band to create a shadow effect. Kabukis create distinct visual transitions and tensions for the musical journey of the show so that the artist and his production team can better harness the power of the fan’s emotions and make the night that much more memorable.

A Kabuki is a simple drape, but sometimes simple is all the power you need.


5 02, 2013

Standard Drape Sizes???

By |February 5th, 2013|Authors, Education, Products|1 Comment

What are standard stage / drape sizes? Is there such a thing? How many drapes are needed? Is there any commonality across multiple venues? How do these touring shows select their drape sizes???

I realized today that I field a great number of queries regarding “standard” stage sizes – specifically – are there any?

Well, of course every theater and venue is different – and every production has different sight-line needs. BUT – I guess that I feel comfortable making a few generalizations that probably will help those looking to determine what might be “standard” as opposed to not.

Firstly – most stage scenes create an opening that is “landscape” in its alignment – meaning that typically the stage opening will be wider than it is tall…..

Secondly – the height of the stage is typically around 50-55% of the width of the stage…

So – here are some basic parameters….. I hope that this is helpful to those that are in the learning or planning stages.

SMALL THEATRES with traditional proscenium 24’h x 40’w “ish”

  • One US backdrop or Cyc
  • One US bi-parting masking drape
  • Three sets of legs
  • Three borders
  • One downstage main drape – to travel, lift or kabuki drop away.

FULL SIZE THEATRE with traditional proscenium 30’h x 60’w “ish”

  • One US backdrop
  • One US Cyc
  • One US bi-parting masking drape
  • One Mid Stage bi-parting masking drape to split stage for opening act
  • Four sets of legs
  • Four borders
  • One downstage main drape  – to travel, lift, kabuki drop or “sniff” away.

INDOOR ARENA setting – typically a truss structure for concert touring purposes

  • One arena masking package usually 35h x 120’w used to create separation within an arena from backstage and FOH
  • One US backdrop
  • One US Cyc
  • One Mid Stage bi-parting masking drape to split stage for opening act
  • Four sets of legs
  • Four borders
  • One equipment “coverlet” package to mask out tech and musical equipment prior to the show or during the opening act.
  • Two pop up portable dressing rooms
  • One downstage main drape – lift, kabuki drop or “sniff” away.

OUTDOOR ARENA SCAFFOLDING PACKAGE for outdoor shows which include speaker stack wings and a roof skin 30’h x 60’w “ish” with 2 @ 24’w “speaker stack wings” (totaling 108’w)

  • One US backdrop or Cyc usually Vinyl or “outdoor blow through” Mesh
  • One Mid Stage kabuki drape to split stage for opening act
  • Four sets of legs
  • One equipment “coverlet” package to mask out tech and musical equipment prior to the show or during the opening act.
  • Four pop up portable dressing rooms
  • One downstage main drape – lift, kabuki drop or “sniff” away.
  • One vinyl stage skirt for FOH and or runway
  • Two vinyl mesh wing speaker stack covers typically 2 sides front and off stage
  • One logo or graphic vinyl mesh header to mask trussing and roof skin attachments.

Of course there are no rules – use as many or as few drapes as are needed to create the look and feel. Shows that are heavy on hard staging will usually have less drapery elements. The opposite often also applies. Shows that are trying to travel lightly with fewer trucks tend to go for softgoods over hard staging. US tours that are trucking from show to show can have many, many semi-trailers worth of gear. Easily 18 trucks for a big show…. or more for an arena show!

1 02, 2013

There’s No Biz like Persistent Biz

By |February 1st, 2013|Authors, Company, Education, News|0 Comments

I’ve run a small marketing agency for over 25 years now and have seen a lot. You see, one of the coolest aspects of my job has been the need, the requirement if you will, to become intimate in the workings of my clients’ businesses – from the inside out. Great marketing comes from the inside out. For example, great brands are not painted onto products, they are reflections of great strategic plans that are executed to leverage every part of the business, from how phones are answered to the company picnic. And why not? In a competitive environment, why not use every scrap of asset you have?

Since a great brand becomes a living, breathing, and vitally important aspect of the organization, it’s only natural that I, as a member of the strategic marketing team, should get free run to tour every nook and cranny of the operation and ask questions about any part of the business I’m interested in. And that is exactly how it usually is. For a guy who’s always been fascinated with business in general, this part of my job has been beyond fun. But there’s more… there’s more than the business model and how it works, there are the owners and managers. They’re the ones behind the success, and they demonstrate characteristics that seem to show up over and over. Characteristics like this:

  • They plan their work and are organized.
  • They work their plans and do not change direction easily.
  • They keep things simple and try to see the big picture in spite of overwhelming distractions.

That is the essence of successful marketing as well. You start with planning. It may require research or expert opinion, or both. Then you fashion a strategy that contains goals and tactics and you execute it. Then you stay on the road. This is one of the areas where a client depends on their agency – to help stay on the road (strategy) and not react to ‘golden opportunities.’ Then you review and adjust. But it’s not over yet – not quite that easy. What happens when you do it all right and it’s working and then the economy crashes and ruins your markets? Or some other catastrophic event occurs and your business suffers greatly. What then?

Megan Duckett, who manages Sew What? and Rent What?, knows the answer. She lives the answer, and it’s persistence. She just doesn’t give up. She gives in, but she doesn’t give up – big difference there. A persistent force, executed over time, will gather momentum. As long as you stay on the road and follow your strategy, your business will gather momentum. It may not be as great as it once was, but it will return with persistence – the unbeatable force in business.

So when the going gets tough, and too much information and too many options cloud your mind, go back to your plan, keep it simple, and then move forward with persistence. You can’t lose!