- Studio Theatre interns Brandon Gowen, Caroline Lannon, Ruth Anne Watkins, and John Darr spread sand for 'The History of Kisses.'
Some summer interns fetch coffee. The Studio Theatre's summer interns just fetched 10 tons of sand. The theater is constructing the set for David Cale's The History of Kisses, which takes place at an oceanfront resort. And before Cale begins rehearsal tomorrow, the theater constructed his set, which consists of a lifeguard chair, a boulder, and a vast expanse of sand – 10 tons of it – in the Metheny Theatre. Lifting shovel after shovel were technical director Charlie Olson and a team of seven hardworking summer interns, for a task they named "Operation Sandstorm."
Olson first had to construct a stage that could support the weight of the 10 tons of sand. He says that the stage is built just like any other would be, but with double the number of supports. He also experimented with several types of sand to get the correct look and feel for the seascape.
"Once we had the deck down, we had a local landscaping company deliver the sand in what are called Super Sacks," says Olson. "It’s a giant, tarp-like bag sitting on a pallet that holds about 1 ton of sand. After that, we set up a brigade of interns to shovel and wheelbarrow the sand from the Super Sacks out back in our parking lot, through the Green Room and onto the stage."
- Technical director Charlie Olson, along with intern Ruth Anne Watkins, Rachel Hawkins, Caroline Lannon, and Brandon Gowen, organizes 10 1-ton Super Sacks of sand. (Photo: Courtesy Studio Theatre)
Between seven interns, it took about five hours for them to spread that amount of sand on the stage (it sure beats answering five hours of constituent calls, though, right?). After they posed for a photo, no other interns or staff have played in the sand, in anticipation of Cale's rehearsals.
Olson says he's not sure how the actor and playwright will utilize the sand in his one-man show. The theater says the world premiere show is about "A writer [who] sequesters himself in an oceanfront motel to finish a collection of tales of seaside romance, only to find himself drawn into the romantic and sexual goings-on around him."
"Since this is a new work we will be discovering a lot of the performance as we go," says Olson. "All the ways that you use sand on an actual beach are fair game."
But his real concern is for maintaining the sandbox during the show's run, and deconstructing it afterward. The History of Kisses will open on June 15, and run through July 3.
"While getting it into the theater was relatively painless, getting it out will be the true challenge," says Olson. "That and keeping it from wandering into every nook and cranny of the theatre."