Friday, January 29, 2016

Buried Child, 1992

The 1991-92 season was very successful for our program.
The productions were all large in scale and drew a record number of audience members.
At that time we had a good core of technical students plus hard working other students and staff who all worked hard in the building, painting, lighting, sewing and running the plays.

The 1992-93 would also turn out to be an exciting and successful season which again offered us some very demanding problems to overcome.
The season began with Buried Child by Sam Shepard in the fall and the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in the December slot.
We tried something new in the spring by doing both of our productions in repertory of three weeks instead of the usual two.
The two shows in Rep were  Romeo and Juliet and  The Foreigner.
If just mounting the two shows at the same time was not crazy enough we toured Romeo and Juliet to a Rochester high school during the middle of the run.

The production of Buried Child was performed on a large unit set that did not have one right angle.

The raked stage floor ran diagonally upstage and the walls leaned in at various angles.
Even the door, which was over-sized, was lopsided and was custom made.
It is all the various challenges of a show like this that makes it fun to work on.
I would spend many hours at the drafting board trying to figure out just how to make something work only to change it later because it did not look right or the designer or my assistant had a better idea.

(Note: I would begin to use Auto-CAD by the end of that season but at the time of this show I still used my T-Square and pencils. Cad does make everything easier but I miss the satisfaction I got from hand drafting.)

 One night during the rehearsal of the play and actor almost died.
The actor playing the father was a very large man and spend much of the play slumped over next to a couch.
At one of the breaks in the rehearsal they crew found that the actor was passed out and not breathing very well.
Fortunately the actor recovered the show went on without further incident.

* * *

Thursday, December 31, 2015


I have learned that I am not ready for retirement and that I am very bored and miss working on plays and teaching my students.

I will still be out of work for a while and hope to get back to working on my Blog, but to be honest I have not felt in the mood but need to force myself to start writing again and keep the mind sharp.

Hope everyone has a Safe, Healthy and Happy New Year ! ! ! !

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Things Change

Over the past five years I have enjoyed writing my Blog and have tried to write on a regular schedule but work on current productions would often get in the way of my retelling of shows of the past.
My resent gap in writing has been caused by several health issues.
Two and a half years ago I found out that I had prostate cancer.
After talking with several doctors and a visit to Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo I decided to opt for surgery.
Although I had lost fifty pounds in years the doctors wanted me to lose more weight before they would operate.
I had hit a plateau and could only lose a few more pounds.

My PSA numbers continued to raise and my regular doctor suggested that something needed to be done sooner then latter and this past summer I decided to try radiation therapy.
Not wanting to have to drive to Buffalo every day I saw a doctor at the Wilmot Cancer Center at Strong hospital on Rochester only twenty minutes away.
After new rounds of blood tests, cat scans and bone scans it was offered to me that radiation therapy plus hormone therapy would be a good option for me.
In July I received the first of six monthly shots that would help shrink back the cancer.
The drug has several side effects but not too bad on its own.

On September 8th I began my radiation therapy and finished my last treatment today as I write this post.
I wanted things to be normal and choose to keep working at the college and work on the first show of the semester.
Things went well but as time went on I started to feel the effects of the drug and radiation and it got harder to work on the production.

After struggling to get the show done I decided that I would use some of my sick days and take a leave from the college.
If it was just the radiation therapy I might not needed to take off buy I also have a very bad arthritic hip that needs to be replace.
The hormone drug plus the ongoing effects of radiation sapped my strength and made it harder to do my job.
So I plan to take three to six months off and take care of my health.

I already miss working but know that I have to get better before I can effectively get back to work.
I expect now that I will have more free time I can get back to Blog, but we will have to see.
The staff at both hospitals were both great.
What was unexpected to me was meeting some incredible brave and strong fellow patients.
I met people who were much sicker than I ever was but these people were always upbeat, full of life and fighting their cancer as hard as they could.
These people helped me never to feel sorry for myself.

I have one more hormone shot in a month and will have blood test in February to see how it has all worked out.
I will let you all know what happens.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Geoffrey E. Guja

As we come to the fourteenth anniversary of the attacks of 9/11 I think it is important to take a moment to remember all of the heroes that we lost that day. 

I am concerned the my freshmen college students are too young to truly remember that day. 

I recently asked my college freshmen if they remembered 9/11 and some they said that they did, but they were only about 4 years old at the time. 

Soon we will have a generation who does not remember the world before that day and it is important for those of us who do remember the pre-9/11 world to tell them what really happened that day.  

I found out a few years ago that I had once met one of those heroes almost forty years ago while I was still in college.

He was the twin brother of one of my friends and I enjoyed a few beers and some laughs with him during a visit to Buffalo.

* * *
Please take a minute to remember him and all of those who we lost on 9/11.

Geoffrey E. Guja

Age: 47

Hometown: Lindenhurst, N.Y., USA

Occupation: Firefighter, New York Fire Department

Location: Ground, World Trade Center

Original 9/11 memorial in Brockport, NY

* * *

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Summer Theatre

I miss doing summer theatre.

This summer the only things going on in the theatre have been the weightlifting event of the Special Olympics and five sessions of the freshmen orientation for next fall.
I enjoyed the Special Olympics and was impressed by all the athletes, but I really did not have much to do for that event.

We used to do shows every summer but have not done one in over fifteen years.
As I look back at summer of my summer theatre memories I have included links to posts in which I have written about them in more detail.

I did my first summer production in 1975 after my first year in college.
I returned home and lit the local community theatre production of No, No, Nanette.
This was the production when I got the best insight and design concept from the director when he told me to just “Make it Pretty”.

The summer of 1976, the bi-centennial, was my favorite and busiest summer of theatre.
Right after the end of school I went to NYC and for a month worked off-Broadway on four plays in rep.

After just a few days off I went out to Gateway Playhouse for a true summer stock experience of which I wrote several blog entries.
It was a crazy and wild summer working hard, learning a lot and having a good time all the time we were bitching about everything.
Stories from that summer start with this post:

The summer of 1977 was my first as a “Professional Designer”
I was hired to be the lighting designer for two productions at a small Long Island theatre.
The shows were Rogers and Hart, A Musical Celebration and The Sound of Music.
Details about the shows are in the following post:
The next summer was right after I graduated from college and I did not work on any play, well not directly.
This was the summer that I worked for Lycian Stage Lighting.

I was soon off to Graduate school were we had four shows in rep each summer.
The first summer I designed two of the plays and the second summer I worked on my master’s thesis and did time as the master electrician for the summer rep.
Details about my first summer at Michigan can be found at the following link as well as mixed in 20 other post I wrote about my time at Michigan:

After Graduate school I returned home to Long Island and did what work I could find in the area.
In the summer of 1981 I was hired to be the Scenic and Lighting Designer as well as the Technical Director at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey.
The productions were the musical Candide, Shadow of a Gunman by Sean O’Casey and Da by Hugh Leonard.
The first of two posts about that summer is:

I was out of Theatre for a year while I was working in a photo studio in NYC,  but in the Fall of 1982 I started working at the College at Brockport.
For the next seventeen years I worked on most of the summer production the college produced but I was giving a break the summer they did The Wizard of Oz.
I was glad to be off that year as they set off the fire alarms during every performance because they used too much flash powder and fog.

In the summers of 1994 and 1998 I got a chance to work outside  of Brockport again and do true summer stock.
I have not yet written details of those summers but they are coming up soon.
I the last few years that we had summer shows there a few that there was no show because of renovations to the building.
Cutbacks in funding and higher costs finally killed the summer productions at Brockport.

As I have gotten older I do not know if I could do a full summer of theatre as I did back in 1976 when I was 20 but I am glad I had the chance to do it when I did.

* * *

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dracula, 1992

Program Cover

Text to follow