Stagecraft Behind the Magic

In the technical world of stagecraft, where specialists give substance to the designer’s vision, artistic traditions meet and mingle with practical skills.

Bob Frame ’77 designed the lighting for Merry-Go-Round Playhouse’s production of Little Shop of Horrors.

Bob Frame ’77 designed the lighting for Merry-Go-Round Playhouse’s production of Little Shop of Horrors.

While the audience perceives enchantment, Abby Rodd ’96, production manager since 2008 of Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, N.Y., sees reality: 2,000 pounds of pig iron to counterbalance scenery; solidly constructed sets that won’t crash beneath the weight of actors or a goat added to props; complex electrical design to support sound and lighting, and much more.

Rodd’s schedule on a typical pre-season day includes two tech rehearsals; meetings with the artistic director, team leaders, directors and other key people; and lots of roaming. “Part of my job is to make sure all 120 people on the production team know what I know,” Rodd says. “With four shows in repertoire throughout the summer, a thousand decisions must be made to meet the challenges of logistics.”

Cayuga Community College’s production of Knuckles (below) included a lot of Oswego alumni talent, including costume designer Allison Fennessy ’99 M’04, director  Bob Frame ’77 and actors Miranda Coll ’14 (lower left in gray  sweater), Tarin Bonvino ’14 (upper left in pumpkin-colored skirt)  and Brien Bianchi ’14 (far right in white blouse and white glasses).

Cayuga Community College’s production of Knuckles  included a lot of Oswego alumni talent, including costume designer Allison Fennessy ’99 M’04, director Bob Frame ’77 and actors Miranda Coll ’14 (lower left in gray sweater), Tarin Bonvino ’14 (upper left in pumpkin-colored skirt) and Brien Bianchi ’14 (far right in white blouse and white glasses).

Rodd often must speak as the voice of reason, something she learned from Jon Vermilye ’66, a great mentor and former technical coordinator and professor at Oswego, she says. “He would walk into the most chaotic situation on a set, and suddenly, there would be calm. I try to be that voice. I try hard not to say ‘no,’ and to offer solutions instead of additional problems.”

Offering solutions has also been the main goal of Bob Frame ’77 who, as immediate past president of the Theatre Association of New York State, has shared his Oswego education with more than 50 non-professional groups statewide; represented TANYS on regional and national boards and served as technical director of the national organization’s festival in 2011. His association with the group began in 1976, when he and other Oswego students performed at its annual festival competition. By the next year, he was stage manager for the festival and now serves as its technical director.

Bob Frame ’77

Bob Frame ’77

As a “department of one” at Cayuga Community College, where he is director of theatre operations and producer/director of the student drama club, Harlequin Productions, Frame encourages students to learn all aspects of theater. “Oswego allowed me the freedom to explore,” he says, noting that he was cast in a main stage show as a freshman even before he changed his major from computer science to theatre.

Later, when he couldn’t decide whether to accept a leading role or serve as props master, his Oswego mentor and former theatrical carpenter and professor at Oswego, Ken Stone ’68, asked him if he wanted to become an actor or a technician. “His question made me evaluate who I was and what career path I would follow. I chose the props master,” Frame says, noting that the decision set him on the path to his multi-faceted career.

—Linda Loomis ’90 M’97

Leave a Reply