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.

 

 

What You Need to Know About Acoustics (Part 1)

Main Curtain and Window Curtains at Baruch College 
Photo: Todd Kaplan 

Rose Brand has partnered with our friends at Stages Consultants to create a blog series about the acoustical applications of fabrics. In this 3-part series, we’ll discuss some of the more common approaches for using fabrics in performance spaces and also the things to consider when choosing a fabric for your project.

Read Part 2 here.
Read Part 3 here.

Why Are Acoustics Important?

One of the basic goals of room acoustics is controlling reverberation, or the persistence of sound in a room after the source is silenced.  While sometimes the goal is to create “live” spaces with longer reverberation times for a concert hall, more often you are looking for ways to make a room’s acoustics less reverberant, especially in theatre and studio spaces. Adding sound absorbing material to a room will reduce its reverberation time and the perceived loudness of sound. Shorter reverberation times enhance sound clarity, improve speech intelligibility, and reduce loudness.  This allows better communication between performers and audiences at comfortable volumes. It also improves source localization, including surround sound effects. 

Why Fabric? More...

How To Use Various Netting and Gauze Fabrics in Scenic Design

 

Scenic designers use Netting and Gauze fabrics in combination with other scenery and lighting to create visual illusions and spatial depth.  The transparency of netting and the translucency of gauze make these fabrics particularly well suited for these effects. The following describes the characteristics of various nettings and gauzes and how you might use them to best effect. 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

 

Behind the Scenes: Outfitting ShowStoppers at Wynn Las Vegas

Throwing your wife a huge party for her birthday is generally a good way to win brownie points for the year to come. Throwing her a huge party in the form of a Broadway-esque musical where Hugh Jackman performs, now that’s a way to amass brownie points for life. 

To celebrate the birthday of his wife, Andrea, Steve Wynn, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, threw an elaborate party. An enthusiast of Broadway show music, Wynn transformed the party into an attraction for the Wynn Las Vegas Encore Theatre. The result was ShowStoppers, a musical production of classic Broadway show tunes that Wynn personally wrote. 

Rose Brand had the pleasure and honor to create the drapery for the show. Our team of production specialists had direct input on what the final design would look like – we suggested colors, adjusted fabric type, and even put finishing touches on the production before rehearsals. 

Tom Coulouris and Brent Porter, two of the most sought-after project managers and veterans of the theater industry, sat with designers and producers including production designer Ric Lipson of Stufish and Rick Gray, general manager of entertainment operations at Wynn Design & Development as the concept for this production came about. In an interview with Sharon Stancavage for Lighting and Sound America, Lipson describes the duo as the “Gods of Drapes.”

 

During preliminary meetings with the production team, Rose Brand presented suggested mock ups for the major soft goods in the production. Together, the two groups of producers worked with the fabrics to get the best effects – additional layers of fabric were added, colors were custom-dyed, and various light sources were tested. Since Rose Brand has a huge selection of fabrics in stock, testing different fabrics and color options was fast and easy. Rose Brand brought to the project a deep understanding of the aesthetics the designers wanted to achieve paired with intimate knowledge of the technical aspects required in order to make that possible. 

This was a very high-energy, fast-paced project made up of many specialized design pieces. One of the scenic goals for this production was to create the illusion of depth and dimension with limited space. To give the background depth and pizzazz, varying layers of three different colors of Shimmer Organza fabric were used in different parts of the show. A focal point throughout the show is the upstage curtain made from the Shimmer Organza in 200% sewn-in fullness at the top and bottom. The sheer fabric was also used to create other elements of the show. 

In the interview for Lighting and Sound America, Lipson describes another Rose Brand fabric, the Gliss Velvet, as “taking light in the most beautiful way.” This textured velvet was used in many places in the production including the proscenium and the band riser front. The individual legs and borders are a custom colored antique gold, made specifically for the show. 

Additional Rose Brand components used in the show include Classic Star Drop with LEDs for a border, legs, and drop, an Austrian Curtain sewn from Frazzle fabric, and numerous steel beaded curtains. All three of these elements are suggestions the Rose Brand production team made on the project. The steel beaded curtains were very popular in numerous scenes. “In the scene from Cabaret, we use a lot of Rose Brand’s 5/8" Plated Faceted Metal Beads for the whole of the set—it’s sort of enveloped in these beads,” Lipson adds. The curtains are pictured above on stage left and right as well as the center stage in what has been described as a “beautifully decadent, bead-laden club.”  

After sewing for the project was completed, Brent Porter, Rose Brand’s Manager of Fabrication and Development, flew out to Las Vegas to perform enhancements on-site for two weeks before rehearsals started. Working alongside the installation crew at Wynn Casino, he assisted in making sure each piece was properly installed and hung perfectly. Porter also assisted with on-site tweaks which allowed the curtains to open and close perfectly. Along with Lipson and Grey, he made sure that every tassel was in place and each curtain had the exact fullness needed. 

Since its premiere, the production has received rave reviews and shows no signs of slowing down.  ShowStoppers is running through October 2015 at Wynn Las Vegas. 


Use the same products in your next production! Here are some of the fabrics used in ShowStoppers:

Frazzle
Gliss Velvet
Classic Star Drop
Shimmer Organza 
For information about ordering metal beaded curtain, call 1-800-223-1624

 

To read the full feature in Light & Sound America, click here.

Rose Brand Blog -- Reason For Being

Welcome! For those who don't know us, we're probably the largest provider of fabrics, custom sewn creations and production supplies to theater, event, house of worship and education organizations. As such, we have a vast storehouse of knowledge about our industry that we'd love to share. We thought a blog would be the perfect vehicle for that purpose. The objectives of our blog are to inform, educate and entertain those who are members, or followers, of our industry. We'll be posting "how to" information, design & production tips, amusing project stories and news items.

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Sincerely,
George Jacobstein, President
www.RoseBrand.com