Walking around campus the last few days has been like walking out of a time machine, into the fervent buzz of late May. The sound of power tools fills the air, bringing a cacophony of whirs, clangs, thuds and metallic clinks that emanate from the scene shop and backstage. Since the festival season opened last month, the saws, hammers, sanders, routers, drills and welding torches have all been mostly dormant. Instead, the sounds of Puccini, Mozart, Copland and Handel lofted daily from the theater, unable to be contained by its high walls.
After seven weeks of constant harmony as the backdrop to life at Glimmerglass, it is again time for the harsh dissonance of tools to close out the summer, just as it had started. The difference this time is that it is like watching the process in reverse as the sets are carefully dismantled. This Tuesday afternoon, the final performance of Tosca signaled the official start of strike — an endurance test of breaking down, packing up, and shipping out that lasts all but a week. But oh, what a week it is.
Strike varies for each department, but it generally entails at least one or two 12-hour days. For some, this means climbing up and down into the “grid” (a platform 71 feet above the stage floor), breaking down equipment, packing up for shipment, and starting the whole process over. At least, this is a typical day for the Rigging and Electrics crews. Other departments, like our brave Audio/Visual team, opt to tough it out in an all-out, one- to two-day strikefest, often working until the wee hours of the morning.
And then there are the rentals: lighting rentals, truck rentals, trailer rentals, prop rentals, costume rentals. It is the last of these that occupies most of the costume and wardrobe departments’ week.
I’m one of the stragglers. My last day was Saturday, the 28th, and by then the trailers will have left, the power tools will have been shut down, and things packed away in warm storage for the winter.
So, having served their purpose — creating a world, setting the tone of the dream that is the drama happening before it — it is now time to make room for the next productions to come.