Theater conversion project - Router Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2019, 10:20 AM Thread Starter
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Default Theater conversion project

Our senior group meets in the cafeteria of a former middle school. It's a nice space now operated by a community oriented church. I've taken on the project of converting it into a dinner style theater. I've already installed some theater lighting and a nice portable AV stand and wired up connections to the overhead projectors. Has a 10 ft drop ceiling, which hides two 12 gauge cables to supply power to two banks of lights. The facility is called The Venue.

Problem is that the platform is just 8x16 feet. Big enough for a small ensemble (church has some good musicians). It's on the East end of the populated area up here in the desert, the edge of the Mojave. There is no other such location in the area.

I tried to get materials contributed by Home Depot for a new, larger stage (26x24 feet), which is almost as wide as our local theater building on the other end of the area. I have plans and church approval to turn it into a theater and musical performance venue, as well as a hall for meetings and seminars.

So this coming week I have to round up some workers to install the stage. I can't handle those 4x8 sheets of ply anymore, and the church facility pastor said they have people who'll volunteer. Hopefully they have nail guns and compressors.

The pictures show our group meeting in The Venue, another picture of the stage area with outlines showing the aproximate size and location of the platform and a drawing of the supports for the 5 inch tall, plywood topped platform.

I'm going to start by purchasing the kiln dried 2x4s and precutting them. Each frame will require about 5 2x4s total. The framework will allow passing cables under the platform.

The stage will also have three 4x8 foot tall theatrical flats on each side to provide a hidden back stage area. I'll probably set these up so they can be removed if necessary.

This will take a little time, so I'll come back with pictures over the next couple of weeks. As soon as the stage is up, I'm going to start arranging programs for our group's weekly meetings throught he local schools, many of which are Charter schools with special emphasis, including performing arts, drama, music, video production, science, speech and debate.

I'm also planning a grand opening festival to kick things off. Already have the producer of our best theater group interested in using the place. We will need to improve the AC and heating units. Seating is qood with a dozen round tables with 8 chairs each. There is a food service area so dinner theater could be done using a vendor.

I have a budget of $1,200 for phase one and will try to raise some more funding to dress the place up and improve the AC and heating unit. I'm also planning a 4x8 sign that will go out toward the street, and have solar lights for nighttime visability. This project will keep me off the streets and out of trouble for awhile.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 10:23 AM
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Sounds like you have this well planned out. Hopefully the labor comes through. They're lucky to have you talents available to them. Good luck with the project and keep us posted...
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 11:30 PM
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I wish I lived closer to Victor Valley, would definitely come over and help.


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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-05-2019, 10:23 AM
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Sounds like a good plan, look forward to seeing the finished project
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-07-2019, 12:04 PM Thread Starter
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No dice on getting a deal from HD. So I'm picking up the 2x4s and pre cutting the short and medium size pieces. Hope I can find 72 nice straight pieces. They should have restocked yesterday, but there are 3 orange stores in the area so I can cherry pick from each.

Going to build the bases slightly undersized to account for any messed up joints.

Have a Veteran I can take with me for the 10% discount, especially for the 12 4x8 ply sheets, but I hate to haul him out to pick 2x4s.

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 10:51 AM Thread Starter
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Busy week, pre cutting and assembling the bases for the stage. 12 of them. Will pick up the ply for the stage project on Thursday or Friday. Have 4 volunteers to help assemble the thing on Saturday. The pastor at the church is looking for someone else to help, but with two strapping teens, we should have it done in 4-5 hours at most. I can come in later and connect the cables underneath it. I'll do the theatrical flats later. They're pretty light and I have a carrier for them.

I started connecting with some of the theater and musical leaders in the community this week and they like the idea of having a new venue since the local community theater is hard to book. I'm planning a big press oriented grand opening soiree in a couple of months and want lots of highly visible people there. City council, heads of all the small theater groups, musicians and bands, well known local performers. Got to save up a little money for food and maybe wine. The old PR guy is coming out to play again. Been a while since I did any of that.

It's taken some time to get this pulled together. Thankfully, a retired pastor who teaches at the church and is in our senior group, donated an additional $300 to the fund, so we're covered.

Conventional stages are usually painted black, but I think for the church, it would be better to pick something a little lighter.

I made a little cart to move the ply around with so we don't kill ourselves moving that heavy stuff.

The platforms are 1/2 inch shorter than the ply, which should allow for a little wiggle room putting them together. I don't think the platforms are going to move with all that weight on them, but have been thinking of using some long bolts to tie them together just in case. Anyone have any thoughts about that?
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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Got the first base frame underway, but it's so hot my blood pressure took a plunge. Think I better do this slowly, and maybe splurge for or borrow a couple of tables so I don't have to bend over and straighten up so much. Borrow from the church would work. Using 2.5 inch finish brad gun to hold things in place, then 3.5 inch coated screws for strength. Have 12 of these babies to do. Setup is Saturday.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 12:56 PM Thread Starter
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Got the first six platform bases together. Early morning is far less sweath. Going through 3.5 inch deck screws like mad. Should have bought the big box. They have a star head and are much easier to drive into the wood than Phillips. Also put together a cart to carry the heavy stuff from car into the building. Need to add a crossbar to the top to support the frames, and cut some posts to go into the walls of my pickup to keep the frames from falling off. They're stacked pretty high
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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Ever notice how projects expand as you go along? Can't safely transport the 2x4 bases on my truck. Too tall just to tie down, so I'm having to make some stakes to go into my pickup wells to hold the bases in. But have to clean out the wells before I can use them. Then the table saw stalled and I can't remember where the reset is located, so have to look up an instruction book online. Hurmph.

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-17-2019, 09:38 PM Thread Starter
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OK, got the platforms made. Found a LOT of straight 96 inch 2x4s, and it paid off. When we installed the platforms and topped them with plywood, the seams met perfectly across the whole 16x24 stage. Flat and level! Yippee! I will be able to tie them all together at the peripheral joints. They're so heavy they're not going anywhere.

I'm going to finish up screwing the ply down tomorrow and Monday (after finging my dang knee pads). The I'm going to paint it with some dark, dark green, flat floor paint. Thinking of that really heavy deck coating. Any opinions on the best paint for this surface. It won't get really hard use, and the musitians will be sitting on some area rugs.

We also used three of the old platforms under the two tech tables in the back of the house.

I really like having projects to look forward to. So next comes building six theatrical flats to create the back stage area. The stage really needs this.

If I have a few bucks left, I'm going to build and produce a large sign to install near the street, and use some solar LED lights so it's easy to spot at night. I have some leftover wood and just need a plywood sheet. Have a friend who has painted signs so it won't look amateurish.

Wanted to post a picture but can't get it out of my wife's phone. It's a smart phone, but only has an IQ of 20. Oh for he days when a camera was just a camera.
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