Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Cave Painting

I painted Batman's cave over the weekend. OK, so it wasn't actually Batman's -- it was Bat Boy's cave. But that's pretty close, right?

Allow me to explain...

I spent my Saturday afternoon at the Montgomery Theater slapping gray paint all over cave walls made of spray insulation.

To understand this, you might need some background info. You see, the Montgomery Theater is working on a production of Bat Boy - The Musical, a camp/horror/rock kind of thing. There's more info at the end of this post.

Cameron Purdy (the resident stagecraft wizard and a star in this musical) had a grand vision for this show's set: he wanted to literally turn the stage into a cave. The plan called for the cave walls to be built with chicken wire affixed to a wood base -- pretty much a wire-frame approach. The chicken wire could be bent and twisted to achieve irregular shapes for the cave walls. This framework was then covered with fabric which was treated with spray foam insulation; the fabric was necessary to give the spray something it could adhere to. When it dried, there in the middle of the main performance space, was a realistically textured, albeit kind of spore-ish (or corn muffin-ish) yellow, cave structure! [NOTE: I don't remember the company who did the foam spraying -- but when I have that info, I will update this post. Now, back to the painting...]

But ... this yellow wasn't exactly a cave-like color. At least not the desired one. So, the production crew put out the call for set painters. And set painters came. All told, almost a dozen people, over the course of about four hours, were involved in getting the first coat of gray paint up on the craggy walls. And it wasn't easy. Nope. There were no smooth surfaces to paint, which forced a combination of techniques to get the color even distributed: rolling, blotting, slapping, ... and desperation (kidding). The rather porous foam insulation had a tendency to really drink up the gallons of paint we had on hand. And there were only two tall ladders, so painting the "ceiling" was a time-consuming process for -- you guessed it -- two people.

But the results are spectacular. It's probably even more impressive now because Heidi, the resident artist and painter extraordinaire, was planning to return over the weekend and begin the color texturing. Adding depth, crystal deposits, striation ... all via paint and shading. I can't wait to see it when I go to rehearsal tonight (remember, I am the serial theater lackey).

[Date more or less reflects when I originally posted at my Local Theater blog with Phillyblog.com.]

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