Posted by: Anya Martin | September 25, 2008

Arming the Festival for Awesomeness: Part II

The Men of Clear Story Creative: Part II


While in the armory with Rob Long and Doug McDermott of Clear Story Creative, the space still looks pretty much like you might imagine an empty 1940s government armory might look, kind of like a very sturdy and very clean, large garage. “You are looking at a blank canvas. We are building another universe,” says Long.


Tomorrow the expected “container” finally arrives. The Barcelona-based theatre company Teatro de los Sentidos has shipped over a container the size of a tractor-trailer truck. According to Long opening the container is best described as, “uncorking a bottle,” but if a good bottle of wine from some sunny French vineyard can have cherry and blackberry flavors with a hint of oak in the finish — then how about a 5,000 pound bottle from Barcelona which contains things like “a boat, a bicycle, fabric, 8 ladders, and a green wooden cart,” just to name a few.


But as difficult as filling out a U.S. customs shipping order for a 40-foot cargo box containing electric wire and little green carts might be, that’s only the beginning.  Each of the artists performing in PIFOF have contracts which contain riders.  These riders detail everything the festival producers must provide.  “It’s kind of like what rock stars do, asking for only green M&M’s or something,” says McDermott.


What’s in the Teatro de los Sentidos rider?  Just a few examples are: 24 dead trees at least two meters high, fireproof fences, & 1,500 books, along with some special scents.  Being that this company is Theatre of the Senses this makes sense, but you try finding essential oil of lemon grass and gardenia.  Not so easy according to McDermott who found that, “You can’t get Gardenia in pure form, only in synthetic.”  Gardenia is one of the most expensive and rare scents in the world, apparently. “You know, Doug’s a certified welder who is shopping for essential oils online for this show,” adds Long with chuckle of satisfaction.


But then Doug is going to be “one of the greats,” says co-worker Ross Kronenuitter.  “He’s really a savant at his young age.  His ability with electronics, plumbing, and carpentry is just amazing.”  Now Doug will get to add online shopping for essential oils to his ever increasing resume, which will also soon include how to cover an entire former government armory with black carpet, and converting whole lighting plots from European to American electrical systems of measurements.


But then it’s all in a day’s work.  A long day’s work.  A Long and McDermott day’s work, the men behind Clear Story Creative and possibly soon to be production manger and technical director superheroes for PIFOF.  “We’re not just, ah, get your artsy-fartsy ass out of here, let me plug this in.  We are creative thinkers too,” says Long.  McDermott follows up with “We fill a void of technical meets arts.”  Without them the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts would just be a really good idea and not a good show, so why the often unsung hero status for so many production managers and technical directors?  “That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” says McDermott.


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