Router Forums banner
1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,042 Posts
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...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
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?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
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
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Are you getting any assistance Tom? Seems like the promised help didn't turn up yet ?
We lucked out, a family we hired to rockscape our yard found out it was a church project, so they volunteered to help. Had it put up in less than 3 hours. Got an email this a.m. that the church had a youth event in there, so I went in and screwed the ply down. Floor came out pretty much flat. One area where I need to shim the ply slightly, but otherwise flat and even.

Here are a couple of pix. One is just a side view of the old setup, then the new stage, then a picture where you can see some of the theatrical lighting. I have to add a few more lights to cover the larger area. Next up will be the flats to create a back stage area and frame the stage.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Got the stage painted black the other day, but found that people getting on it were shifting the platforms around a bit. So I spend a few hours lining them up correctly and then tied them together with some 1x3. Have to paint the ties black yet, but that will happen shortly. Next step is making the flats for the wings. I might just make them oversized since the space on one side of the stage is only 5 feet. On the other side, there's about 8 ft. Have to leave access to the fire exits.

Since the stage is wide, I may place some "wings" onto the stage itself, which will really help anchor them in place. Have to find what happened to the 8 ft ladder I left there cause I have to rehang the back Black drape so it's the full width of the stage. Then I'm going to move the Church's audio stuff so actors can cross behind the back curtain. There's a fireplace back there with a raised hearth so actors can cross on that.

There are a couple of spots where one ply top is slightly lower, so I've got to loosen the ply and add some shims until it's level. Don't want people tripping.

Last thing is to add at least 3-4 additinal theatrical lights because the five in there just aren't enough to cover the whole stage evenly. Definitely going to need the ladder for that. I gave a local producer four lights for the community theater, but they aren't using them, so maybe I can get them back. That producer is aready interested in using The Venue for a new musical group's performances. The other community theater is fully booked so some folks will be looking for a new venue.

I need to find out the rules for a church accepting money from a non-church performance. I know their building fund could use a boost.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,310 Posts
In your State it's likely different, but a Church here in Charlotte, NC owns what was once called the Merchandise Mart and they host many shows, including The Woodworking Shows, every year. The church runs the concession stands at the shows held there too. Sorry, I have no contact information for them to offer.


Normally, a stage is built high enough to allow everyone in the audience a better view of what's happening on the stage. To me, your stage doesn't look high enough to be worth it, but this is just my thoughts on it.

Charley
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Stage height was a concern at first, but the dinner theater format with a thrust stage works out fine. The room is versatile so we can set the seating more traditional theater style. The real limit on height is that there is a 10 ft ceiling, so raising the stage much higher would have compressed the vertical height. At some point I might talk the church into removing the drop ceiling and increasing the stage height a bit. That would pick up another 2 feet. The main thing is to create the atmosphere. For music events, or speakers, or high school thespians I think this will work very well. We'll see how the more established companies like it soon enough.

I have to do some research on how a church can be paid for hosting events. I remember the Crystal Cathedral in So. Cal. got dinged for taxes for its religious holiday spectactulars. I think it depends a lot on the type of 501C_. Our senior club is a C7 (social club with insignificant income) so we don't even have to file so long as we don't have large donations. We can keep a separate fund for, say scholarships, but if we get extra income (rare), we contribute it to the Church in appreciation for use of the meeting room.

My wife last night said she was amazed that I've mustered the energy to put this thing together. I reminded her that I'm doing this at a snail's pace, and got help with the hard (heavy) parts. Using kiln dried studs cut the weight dramatically, so the framework is light enough for me to manage. The biggest thing is that I just feel a need to keep contributing and this was financially feasable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Time to make the side stage flats. Was going to make them with canvas, but I think I'll use a 3 layer ply instead. A little more rigid and I can put in some threaded inserts so they're easy to put up and take down. By anchoring them, I can keep them more stable and less likely to tip. With a ply front, I can use a little cheaper pine for the frame. More of a hollywood flat than the traditional canvas. Still have a couple of spots to level and some non slip tape on the edges so it's easier to see the edge. Will likely use some glow in the dark tape on the edge behind where the flats go so actors can tell where they are in a blackout. There's no curtain, so there will be blackouts.

The AC is a little underpowered for all the rooms it has to cool, so I think I'm going to block the AC in in one of the storage rooms as well as the returns to get a little more cooling in the auditorium. A friend wants to help with painting, but he's in pretty bad shape so he can't do lifting. But it will be nice to have some company.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,042 Posts
Tom, in reference to the AC, see if someone is familiar with HVAC and have them look for balancing dampers in the duct work itself. Trying to force more air into another area by blocking the vents is the worst way to try getting more into another space. If you can locate dampers, if installed, you can open/close or partway to increase/decrease airflow. They will have wing nuts and a small handle which operates a piece of metal that can close off the duck or go anywhere from full open to full close. Look for them on the takeoffs of the main duct line. Depending on when and how the duct was installed you should see the main line reduce as takeoffs come into play to maintain the air pressure all the way down the line. Air duct pressurizes by traveling all the way to the end and then back pressure. Common mistake is a duct outlet at the end of a duct. Makes back pressurizing a bit more difficult and the air flow much louder. If you can follow the duct from the equipment you should have the main line run with smaller duct coming off to feed rooms/areas and at that takeoff there should be a balancing damper. You can loosen the wingnut and either open the damper more or close it some but always mark the initial position just in case you need to go back. Ideally you'd have a HVAC guy there doing this by taking airflow measurements and adjusting these dampers but you do what you have to. Blocking the returns can be a problem depending on how closely they were sized. They may end up restricting airflow back to the system.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
@sreilly Good feedback, Thanks Steve. I don't have any authority to hire the AC guy, so I was hoping to figure out a fix. Won't be a problem in a couple of months, but it will be a damper on Summer events.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Today found out that a guy who runs a young person's theater group would like to book a performance of Godspell in the Spring. That would be very cool. If we can sign a new client for the consulting biz, I can afford to enhance the lighting and audio a bit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Dang, little pissy things keep getting in the way of finishing flattening and painting the edge of the stage. Can only work a few hours per day, then I have to stop. My daughter is being a slave driver, so the consulting biz is getting some much needed attention. But if it generates another client, I will get a nice cut. Need a volunteer or two, but all my friends are pretty old. Only have $350 left in the fund, need flats and a sign at least. Hope to round up some lights I donated that aren't being used, which will save $120.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top