When I did this show, we didn't use water.
I had a orchestra pit in front of my stage, and we built a "pool deck" around the pit, then dressed the sides of the pit walls to look like the sides of a pool- tiles and all. We put lights in the pit that shined a moving water effect up onto the walls and the actors faces.
No water- no mess- it was very effective.
There was actually a trap door in the pit so that kids could come and go – "disappear" into the pool and not return.
If you have a pit at your disposal, I'd consider it. It was a beautiful production. I'll send photos if you would like. Hit me back.
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I've done this show twice, it's fun to work on! The first time was indoors, in a school that was about to be torn down. We built a home made pool with the plan to use a flood pump to move the water outside. Constantly cleaning was a real challenge, and we left minor water damage under the pool - thankfully in a building that was scheduled to be torn down.The second time we did it outside, which was fantastic. I bought a professional pond liner, which made everything MUCH easier, and when it was time to drain we just dropped one wall of the pool and let the water flood out into the grass. We also held off filling the pool until the week of the show, to keep it fresh and safe for the actors. Stagnant water with performers moving in and out of it can pose a real health risk. We also timed it for a warmer season so water temperature wasn't as big of a problem. I've read about other people using spa chemicals to carefully treat the water, and large water heating elements to keep the temperature up.
Costumes were planned for items that could get wet and dry overnight. All of the actors were required to wear a swimsuit underneath, so they could change quickly backstage.
Of 100 shows I've directed, this was my favorite by far. We used 22 actors, and each learned ~8 roles, then three weeks into rehearsal I selected which 1/2 each would perform and which understudy (worked great). Ours was a thrust stage w a raked house, and we angled the pool into a diamond instead of a square (all the better to hide things like the golden jumprope). 23 levels between steps to thrust, up to the pool, and steps to the "god bridge" - so many possibilities. The pool had four levels, so one could lie down without drowning, etc. up to ?18", enough for a petite actor to "sink" into the water as she walked away toward our US curtain cutting off the very US edge of the pool water. The max height of the water had to be visible but low enough to minimize the splashing onto the deck. We filled the pool from our offstage sink, and each night drained about one water tank's worth, that we refilled each time with hot water at the last minute, so it wasn't so arctic.
The pool was basically four ladders (2x4's) on edge, surrounded by another square of ladders 4' farther out, with a plywood deck between the two squares. We lined it with two plys of plastic sheeting from HomeDepot, and covered the bottom with every bath mat in Target. The water really pins down the sheeting, but we did empty it all once due to a leak (that gave us a chance to run tricky "in-water" scenes and lighting without chilling our actors to the bone). We did struggle with keep the deck from getting slippery, and tried various options, but none I'm ready to recommend. Only one actor ever slipped, fortunately.Emptying the pool wasn't a problem. Three of four kids came up with water pumps and out the water went, through our loading dock door. Those last few inches we dealt with by surrounding the plastic with actors to lift it, and walking it outdoors.We rehearsed once at the community pool to test the costumes (and take early production photos)....good plan, cuz some fabrics that looked opaque certainly weren't, when wet! And that rehearsal was a terrific bonding exercise for the cast. The backstage choreography of costume changes was a miracle of its own, drying actors off and swapping them into their next roles.Yes, we had original music. Very abstract. It was wonderful.We took 7 CAPPIES awards for this production, including Best Show. But mostly, it was true labor of love that I still can't talk about without getting a lump in my throat.I'm sorry the picture doesn't show you a long shot, but enjoy. And love working on this amazing show!
Saint Louis Priory School
500 South Mason Road
St. Louis, MO 63141
I'm producing the show this spring as well. Perhaps we should start an on line support group.
I'm not kidding. I did that last year on FB for High School Theater groups all across America who were producing A KILLER PARTY (a show with lots of film editing challenges) and it was fantastic, the support and resources we were able to offer each other.
I"m very curious where people found the original music and obtained rights and was it only available pre-recorded or is it also available as sheet music for a small live ensemble (which is what we are considering).
We used a few carefully placed ambient mics, U8-53 I think, and kept the audience close enough that sound wasn't a major issue.
I'll second what someone else said about the math. Ours was fortunately outdoors, but in once scene an actor fell back, and the weight of their body displaced enough water to cause the front wall to buckle, but thankfully not break. Water is heavy!
Richard Fairchild | Theater / CTE
Scottsdale Unified School District Engage, Educate and Empower Every Student, Every Day Arcadia High School
4703 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85018 (480) 484-6300
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Arcadia Learning Community Commitment – Respect for Educational Integrity
I would love to see pics and or video of your production. Can you tell me more about this configuration?
I'm so grateful to be able to connect with you!
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