Spotlight October 2015

<![CDATA[Spotlight October 2015: Soapbox wisdom on design from Andrea Gross & Sightlines with Rick Shiomi & Theatre Mu!]]> Spotlight October 2015: Soapbox wisdom on design from Andrea Gross & Sightlines with Rick Shiomi & Theatre Mu!
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October 2015
A Note from Wu Chen

We’ve got something happening nearly every weekend this month! Our Fall Panel Discussion Series is already half over, and I encourage you to check out Women Managers and Aging in the Performing Arts this weekend. We’re also running two very special workshops: a Wardrobe workshop, giving hands-on training from the folks who are responsible for costumes and wigs during a show run, including quick-changes; and a costume and mask workshop just in time for Halloween, with the local master of human-powered animation and mechanization: Mcknight Fellowship Recipient Chris Lutter.

In this month’s Spotlight, Costume Designer Andrea Gross states that knowing when “to pull the plug on an idea so that you can move forward … is maybe most important and most elusive.”. She’s talking about design here, but when I read it, I thought of the ways that decision plays out in our lives and communities.

People have lot of different factors at play in their lives and environments, and many have more of their options culled, in a multitude of different ways, than, for instance, someone like me. I can and do study lots of disciplines because I have the time to do so, even with a newborn; I can now take gigs because I want to, not because I won’t make the rent if I don’t.

Organizationally then, if our mission of fostering exploration and resource sharing is to have any meaning, these factors must be at the core of our development plans. As a young entity, we have less (and different) inertia when considering the who, what, where and how. For this, we trade political strength and foundational stability. Yet an organization is also the individuals driving it: we are all our own King Midas. Significantly, these themes also permeate the essay by this month’s Sightlines contributor and Mu Performing Arts founder Rick Shiomi.

Andrea and Rick rightly demand that we must keep moving forward, and we must not be afraid to make some pretty drastic and personal changes in order to find a way to for us all to move forward together.



-Wu Chen Khoo
co-founder and Operations Director
Technical Tools of the Trade

Sightlines: Night & Daye in the Twin Cities Theater Community

An Article by Rick Shiomi

For this first trip to the Midwest, I gave a short talk at Mixed Blood Theatre for about four people, including the host Jack Reuler and I thought, “No wonder Philip left”.  That was my friend Philip Gotanda, a prominent Asian American playwright who had gotten a McKnight Playwriting Residency in the late 1980’s and had come to the Twin Cities for a workshop; only to leave after a few days, because there were no Asian American actors there to read his play.  I thought, “I’m glad I’m not stuck here.” Of course, I should have known that the theater gods were having a good time with me...

Read the full article HERE!

Tech Tools Calendar of Events

Women Managers (in production departments) Panel Discussion
Saturday, October 10th 3pm - 5pm

Join us for a discussion with some of the most experienced women managers in production departments around the Twin Cities as we celebrate the positive changes and explore the continuing challenges in our culture and industry.

Aging in the Performing Arts Roundtable Discussion
Monday, October 12th 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Aging affects everyone and a life in the performing arts industry is no exception.  Join us for a roundtable discussion celebrating, exploring and sharing the joys, glories and challenges of aging in the performing arts.

Wardobe Workshop
Friday, October 16th 9:30am - 4pm
In this 6-hour workshop, Guthrie Theater Wardrobe Supervisor Amber Brown and Wardrobe Crewperson Paul Bigot will cover all the essentials of being one of the most hands-on and employable of the crews who actually run the shows.
3-Day Waste-Based Mask & Costume Workshop
Friday, October 23rd 7-9PM
Saturday,  October 24th 1-4PM
Sunday, October 25th 1-4PM

Plumbing Christopher Lutter’s gold-mine of collected waste-stream materials, found objects and curiosities, participants will learn methods of construction of costumes, masks and puppeted accessories, in the creation of their very own, over-the-top (or, for that matter, “under-the-bottom”) wearable art-piece.
NOTE: Student discount available - use the code MaskStudent while registering!

Visit our Events Calendar for information!

Not seeing something you'd like TTT to offer? Let us know HERE!


Soapbox - Moving Forward Together: Reflections on the Design Process



Article by Andrea Gross

One of the unfortunate unwritten rules (probably of all design disciplines) is that the element requiring the most resources –physical, financial, intellectual— is the one mostly likely to be cut from the production.

Everyone who has been around for a while has a tale to tell; for instance, custom fit hands for the Wolf in Into the Woods, built from scratch with matching fur, latex palms and claws growing out of the nail bed cut before tech because the actor would not be able to manage the blocking and choreography while wearing them.  But how can it be avoided?

Here are some reflections on my process, with that in mind...


Read the full article HERE!

Wu Chen Recommends...

As I read to my child every night, I’ve been picking through my books looking for good material; We’re rather partial to poetry and I think that it’s also a good way to learn a language. Anyway, I’ve thus been picking through some of my dustier shelves, and I recently pulled out Robert Swindells’ Brother in the Land.

I remember thinking it was an excellent book as a boy of 14, but that I couldn’t bring myself to read it many times again (like many children, I reread the same books over and over). I still have the exact same copy; it followed me across the Pacific.

I had to know if my memory served me well. Unlike The Neverending Story, which I still read somewhat regularly, I had not ever considered Brother in the Land from an adult’s point of view.

My memory had not, in its essence, failed me. This is a startlingly powerful book for the same reason the great fairy tales are: it’s startlingly honest, real and raw; I completely believe that it is told by a teenage boy.

I could see why I couldn’t read it over and over at 14: the brutality of the post-nuclear Britain depicted is quite raw. At nearly 40, I have the same reaction, but this time because of the complete and utter humanity of it all.

If you can get your hands on a copy, read it. Followers of this column have probably figured out I’m a huge fan of the public library. Support your local library! Unfortunately, I can’t find this book in the HCL or RCL systems…

Otherwise, let me know and I’ll lend you mine. I don’t think I’ll be reading it anytime soon.

p.s. it must have been post-apocalyptic fever! I also read Z is for Zachariah and watched the film for English class that year.

Designer Chris Lutter sat and thought up a great new Mask and Costume 3-Day workshop coming later this month, October 23-25. Just in time for Halloween!
Student discount available - use the code MaskStudent while registering! 
Photo Credit: Farrington Starnes
Photos used in this publication are copyrighted to Farrington Starnes and used with permission. Photos used in this publication are copyrighted to Megan Engeseth Photography and used with permission.
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