3A Blog: Board Work Day – Behind the scenes

photo by Dakota Lee Bryant

by: Adrienne Proctor, Board Member

Spring cleaning is in full swing at 3rd Act Theatre Company! Every time we open a new show, we, the Board of Directors, meet on a Saturday to set up and ready the set for the next show. This is my personal favorite thing to do as a Board Member. It’s real “behind the scenes” work, it’s not glamorous, really, but it’s certainly rewarding and fun. We gather on a Saturday morning, usually someone brings donuts or coffee or scones. Snacking is always motivation for overworked theatre people! Then we roll up our sleeves, or just come in our best painting clothes, and get to work.

For Board Work Day in April, we met at the theatre space to set up for Sherlock Holmes. This involved changing the walls from the light cream that adorned the background during the previous show, Shakespeare Conspiracy, to the sultry, earthy tones of Baker Street. We work on painting the walls on stage right to a rich chocolate brown. Meanwhile, over on stage left, we transform the scene with a dusty pink paint. The floor on the left side remains a wood-look laminate. The floor on Stage Right soon gets painted to a cherry red with brown strokes on top. It’s interesting to see the finished product.

We also work to remove greenery from the background and set up a brick-like wall, so that as the characters enter and exit from the back door, they can seemingly be going outside into the street.

More than just painting, we also work on normal cleaning duties around the theatre space. Our space is cozy and intimate, close without feeling claustrophobic. To maintain that we have to be diligent about cleanliness.

Since COVID, we’ve adopted some rigorous cleaning practices, including spraying the seats down with a hospital grade sanitizer after each performance. We are also preparing to reopen the Concession Stand! And with that comes some major cleanout. Our concession stand area was starting to look more like a storage closet for props of yester-show.

Usually during one of these Board Work Days, our Artistic Director, Amandanell Bold, joins us and works on props. Her craftiness knows no bounds. While she’s plugging away, our Board President Dakota Bryant is usually wielding a drill and wrangling Board members for help moving large objects or tearing down old set pieces. Don Taylor is the master wood worker of the group, and he can build anything that needs building. There’s always a saw running, ladders moving, and sawdust, lace and paint flying.

Creating theatre is a lot of planning, thinking, memorizing, rehearsing, and organizing. But what’s not always as obvious is how much physical labor is involved. I think that is why I like Board Work Day so much. Every time I’m standing on the stage, rolling a paint roller into a pan of paint, or at the end of the day when my hands are sore and I’m spattered with paint flecks, I have a moment of clarity. And I remember that I’m doing this because I love theatre so much. Isn’t that funny? To love an art form so much that you’re willing to do the hard, unglamorous work to make it happen.

I think that’s part of why theatre is such a bonding experience. Nobody can make a show happen on their own. Even if it’s a Show of One, and the actor stands on the stage alone, someone still has to operate their spotlight.

It can be daunting to think of giving up your Saturday to go work inside a theatre, but the moments of community and friendship and the reminder of why you’re here is so worth those few hours you may give up. And after it’s over, you get the reward of seeing a beautiful set that’s ready to bring another inspiring piece of theatre to life.

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