Rose Brand Know-How Blog

Entertainment & event production tips, news & stories

Giving New Life To Old Curtains: How an Artist Recycled Stage Curtains

 

Rebekah Lazaridis is a multidisciplinary artist who creates mixed media pieces using tattered curtains, bruised platforms and dented flats. In the Fall of 2015 she used recycled Rose Brand curtains to produce her solo exhibit titled “Broken Legs” hosted at The Sheen Center in New York City. The painting exhibit visually explored theatre superstitions, taking the viewer behind the scenes of long standing theatrical myths, spooks and folklore. 

Rebekah shared with us the inspiration for the show and how she created the 45-pieces. Step inside her world and learn how she creates her art.

What was the concept for “Broken Legs”?
I’ve been immersed in the hauntings of theater since I was 12. I remember hiding backstage to eat my lunch and feeling this weighty presence, even though I was completely alone. I loved finding out the history of theater superstitions and trying to visualize them. These paintings were an effective way for me to share my love affair with the theatre, both the physical space and the spiritual-emotional atmosphere that lingers there. 

What was the creation process like for each piece?
I would cut off a piece of a curtain and paint it. Then I’d cut the painting, reorient it and sew it back together to create a whole new piece.

How did you come up with the idea to use old theatre curtains and give them a new life?
I’ve been working with old discarded theatrical platforms and steps for several years. I wanted to do some work on fabric and toy around with a theatre curtain, mainly the black masking legs. Eric Haak, a fantastic technical director and dear friend, said he had some old ones and offered them to me. I thought it would be the perfect substitute for bought canvas.

What were the unique parts of working with old curtains?
I love the fussiness of the velour. It’s the most difficult fabric I’ve worked with and seems to have a mind of its own. When applying paint to it, some areas refused to soak any more paint. I like the idea that I have this giant velour creature hanging in my studio and one day it wants me to paint on it and one day it doesn’t.

What were some road bumps you hit creating these pieces?
Whenever I applied water to the curtains, the fabric would appear stained or damaged. The stains, I later found out, were salts from the fire retardant that surfaced from the water. I liked the shapes of the stains and ended up working around them. They became personality flecks on the pieces, like birthmarks.

Where did you get the curtains that you used for the project?
I used curtains from places where I had personal history, whether I had performed there, designed sets, painted or worked in some capacity. I reached out to my contacts at those theaters and they donated many pieces. Some of the theaters I work with are very old institutions with old curtains. The oldest curtain I worked with was from the 70’s or 80’s.
 

How many painted pieces were included in "Broken Legs"?
There were 45 pieces total from 4-5 different theaters.
           

What was your favorite thing about this project?
Knowing that I was doing something creative for both theatre people and art lovers and bringing that idea to the big city for a solo show – there’s nothing like that feeling. It was such an amazing opportunity and experience and I couldn’t be more grateful. 

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Rebekah Lazaridis has worked for many years in Florida and New York City as a professional scenic painter for theater, television and film.  She has done murals in Washington DC, Tampa, FL and her hometown of St. Petersburg, FL. Learn more about her work and upcoming exhibits at www.rebekahlazaridis.com.

 

 

Community Spotlight: NewArts: Newtown Musicals

Art has long been a form of healing. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, community members turned to the arts once again to help students cope with the tragedy. Community members knew the power of the performing arts in providing a powerful avenue for self-expression. And thus 12.14 Foundation and its performing arts division, NewArts: Newtown Musicals was born. The organization’s goal is to use performance pieces to help students gain confidence in a safe and nurturing environment and increase their overall understanding of themselves and how they interact with the world. 

12.14 Foundation has completed five large scale musicals, three of which involved the assistance of Broadway talent and Rose Brand materials and supplies. More...

3 Common Uses for Masking Fabrics

Our customers use masking fabrics in numerous ways, not the least of which is to absorb light and to hide walls, equipment and performers. Some additional uses are described below. In most cases, it's important that the masking fabric be opaque so that it acts as a good barrier to light and / or sound. 

Managing Sound*

Masking fabric is often used to cover the walls of black box theatres.  However, since walls are flat, hard and parallel to each other, sound waves can bounce back and forth, causing reverberation. To avoid this, use at least 2 layers of heavy flat masking fabric with several inches of space in between. The air space in between serves to trap the sound that goes through the first layer of fabric. Another method is to use curtains with fullness (instead of flat curtains) to cover the walls. A heavyweight fabric, such as Rose Brand 25oz Memorable Velour, with fullness hung in, works well. The irregular folds in the fabric disperse the sound waves and the mass of the material absorbs some of the energy. 

Both of these solutions can be accomplished easily by tying the fabric to pipes mounted from the ceiling, or installing the fabric on a pair of parallel traveler tracks suspended in front of the walls of the theatre.  Traveler tracks allow for adjustment and provide possible storage positions when the masking is not in use.

* Rose Brand recently tested the acoustical performance of eight of our most popular masking fabrics. Results for the medium weight 12oz Brava up to the heavy 32oz Royale are available in the Rose Brand Catalog and on the website.

Theatre / Arena Reduction Curtains

If a theatre has fixed seating areas that are not being used for a particular production, masking can be used to cordon off the area. Fabric panels can be hung from suspended pipes or tracks that are hung in front of the seats to be hidden. Pipe and Base 2.0 systems are also available and allow for very versatile placement of the masking. The Pipe and Base system is ground supported and can be set up and moved as needed.  

Transforming Theatre Spaces

An ordinary black box space can be reconfigured to a theater in the round space with the use of masking fabrics. Let’s consider a rectangular black box space with galleries around the perimeter. When configured in the round, masking is generally used to cover the walls of the theatre and to provide passages for actors and crew. This can be done by tying the masking to the railing of the galleries or the masking can be hung from traveler tracks on the galleries. The traveler option provides more immediate flexibility when changing the space from a proscenium or thrust configuration, to a round setup.

A Selection of Masking Fabrics Available from Rose Brand

Most Requested: 22oz Encore IFR

Broadest Color Selection: 21oz Marvel FR

Best Overall Sound Absorption: 25oz Memorable FR

Most Economical Solutions: Commando Cloth FR and Duvetyn FR

Durability for Long Term Installations: 30oz Wool Serge IFR

Complementary Products

Heat Borders

Track

Pipe and Base 2.0

 

How Donyale Werle, Tony Award-winning Scenic Designer, Uses The Rose Brand Discount Store

Broadway Scenic Designer, Donyale Werle (Peter and The Starcatcher, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), uses the Rose Brand Discount Store extensively. "I usually look there first when selecting fabrics and curtains for my productions. In fact, I'll often change my design to accommodate what's currently available."

Since the Discount Store inventory consists of a lot of one-of-a-kind items that can turn over quickly, Ms. Werle often specifies two or three options for any given item that she needs. This helps her mitigate the impact of a two-week lag between the time she specifies products for purchase and the time they’re actually acquired. Usually at least one of the specified items is still for sale at the end of that two-week period.

Ms. Werle is a huge proponent of sustainability. She much prefers to use an item out of the Discount Store, previously sewn for another engagement, than to order something new.  This works for her on two levels, in terms of both reuse and saving money. Often the dollars saved will go towards the purchase of other sustainable items, which can sometimes be more costly upfront than non-sustainable goods.

Product: Red Velour swagged legs and border and a Muslin drop painted by Showman Fabricators
Peter and the Starcatcher- Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Director: Roger Rees, Alex Timbers
Costume Designer: Paloma Young
Lighting Designer: Jeff Croiter
Set Design: Showman Fabricators
Design: Donyale Werle