BWW Blog: To Tech a Mockingbird
Hi everyone! My name is Meghan, and I'm a Junior Lighting Design and Technology Emphasis at Oklahoma City University. At my college, we're given 2 to 3 production assignments a semester, and my first one for the semester is production electrician on the regional premiere of Aaron Sorkin's To Kill a Mockingbird. The show goes up near the end of this month, so I thought I would write about my process as master electrician for the show as it happens. It isn't really something we hear about a lot, but I can't start talking about my process without first talking about the drama that occurred before I was even placed on the show.
I'm sure anyone who follows theatre closely remembers the drama surrounding the
rights for To Kill a Mockingbird that occurred a few months ago. If you aren't familiar, let me catch you up. So basically, the producer for the new version of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scott Rudin, decided to take away all of the performance rights for any other production of TKAMB, even though educational and community theatres have been performing the versions for years, and people did not like that. Because of the amount of backlash, Scott Rudin decided to allow people who have already purchased the rights and planned a production to perform Aaron Sorkin's version of the play. My college, along with Oklahoma Children's Theatre we're co-producing the production with, couldn't pass up the opportunity to produce a regional premiere of a show whose rights won't be available for at least two years, so here we are!
Because of all the drama, there's a lot of pressure to produce an incredible show. Part of my job as production electrician is to help carry out the integrity of the lighting designer's vision. Step one of my process is to begin prepping the plot as soon as I receive it. For those who don't know, the lighting plot basically just lays out the lighting instruments and where they should go. My job is to oversee the hanging of those units, determine where they need to be circuited, and make sure everything matches up with the plot. The thought process behind prepping the plot is to map out and color code the entire plot so that I understand it fully and so that I won't encounter any surprises during hang and circuit. I started my prep with marking all the two-fers (two lights that share the same circuit) in a bright color so we can easily identify them during hang and circuit. In the images attached, you'll see the two-fers marked as dark blue lines connecting two instruments together. Next, I started dimensioning (writing out the measurements between instruments and pipes/between two instruments) in order to be able to give clear instructions to people during hang. On the pictures I included, these are just penciled in measurements. Then, I began mapping out our breakouts for this show (groups of connectors where the lights will be circuited). After the breakouts are roughed out in pencil, I went over my pencil lines in colored pencil, giving each breakout a different color and labeling each circle with the breakout numbers. These are the colorful circles included in both pictures. After all that, prepping the plot is complete and I'm ready to start hanging and circuiting!
Prepping the plot was a really satisfying experience for me, as someone who absolutely LOVES to color code. Luckily, the color coding doesn't end with prep, and continues into hang and circuit, which I'll go into next week! Thanks for reading, and I can't wait to talk about calling my first hang next week!