Walter Mencken 10:05 a.m., April 30
Beavers and Stuff (chapter one)
“When Andy starts talking technical, that’s when Molly falls asleep.”
I went over to Old Town and hung out with Andy Scrimger and Molly Whitaker of Cygnet Theater.
Andy is the technical director and Molly is the lead carpenter.
In the morning, they moved the set of It’s a Wonderful Life to a rehearsal space and brought back a truck full of standardized stock.
Molly: “I just want to say that it sucked today. It was three hours of carrying heavy crap.”
Andy: “Whenever I build stuff, I try to use eighty percent standardized sizes--four by eight, six by eight. Then when I get a new show, I can play Tetris and see what fits. For this next show we’ll be able to use a lot of standard pieces and we’ll have to make a couple fill in pieces.”
Standardized sizes are basically even numbers. The walls pieces tend to be eight to ten feet tall and four feet wide. The flooring is four feet by eight.
Andy is Cygnet’s first technical director and has been with the company for just over one year. Previously, he was a tech director in Marin County for seven years.
Molly has also been with Cygnet for about a year.
Andy: “Molly has been great because she remembers the steps. I taught her how to make a standard flat [wall piece] and six weeks later she still knew how to do it… One gal lasted for about two hours. After being shown how to make a flat, her corners were way off.”
I asked if they gave her a plainer to trim off the excess wood and make them even.
Molly: “No. We gave her a beaver to chew it off. We like to use organic tools. We keep like three beavers in cages. Nyom-nyom-nyom-nyom.”
Andy: “[Laughing] I was like, you know what, this isn’t you’re forte.”
Molly: “Actually you said, ‘I’m sure you’re good and something but this isn’t it.’”
Andy: “I was trying to fire her as gently as possible.”
The crew is made up of part time workers who also perform. Molly has sung for a couple bands, made costumes for SDSU Opera Theater, and also sings with the San Diego Opera chorus.
Other crew members have appeared with La Jolla Playhouse, Lyric Opera San Diego, and Mo’Olelo.
We’ll hear a little bit more from Andy and Molly in the next post.