Education Committee Report RE: Freeman AV

Written by Katy Hallee

April 24, 2014


As we move forward in our goals of obtaining a contract with Freeman AV, I believe training is an essential step in that process. If we continuously present Freeman with more and more highly trained workers, they will ask for a contract with us to retain those workers!


On January 29, 2014 I came across a set of PDFs on Local 122’s website entitled Freeman AV Operational Standards. The data seemed relevant to the work we have been doing for Freeman AV here in Austin. I saved the files and began making inquiries through Brother Perez to confirm that these PDFs were something we should be sharing with our membership.


I did not hear back from Brother Perez, so when I found myself working for Freeman at the end of February I questioned the Freeman employees I was working with and happened to be introduced to Dave Vass who is the Safety Officer for Austin’s Freeman AV and in charge of training here! Dave confirmed that they previously had a training seminar series for their employees that has since been distilled into these 25 PDFs. They now carry out training with these documents and on-the-job training.


Dave is more than happy to have this information disseminated as widely as possible. He also informed me that one area they are in need of trained individuals is covered in standard #9 AUDIO RECORDING – MARANTZ PROFESSIONAL CDR-420. This device is used to record sessions when the client wants a record of what happened. They are more than willing to provide their equipment for us to use in training our members and individuals on the hiring hall list that work Freeman calls. They are also open to members shadowing other members on a call, off the clock, in order to learn a new skill such as camera operator. This is how training is handled in the San Antonio local and they are more than willing to follow the same method here. All we have to do is show and interest and ask. Arnold Garcia has taken advantage of this opportunity and went to Freeman’s shop for training on one of their video recorders. He got a week of show call out of it!


I have already shared these documents with 19 members. All I need is a gmail address for anyone wishing to have access to the folder. We could also send the document at the bottom of the folder that is a copy of all the links I have downloaded to our membership. I would like the stewards help in informing those people working Freeman calls of this opportunity and collecting their email addresses if they want the information.


I also recommend compiling a list of members that have the aptitude and level of responsibility required to learn the audio recording skill and solicit their interest in a training class. I believe a demonstrated ability as board operator in another area and the corresponding level of responsibility is required for this job as it is like wedding photography. You only get one chance to do the job properly and there is little supervision to make sure you do the job correctly.


We need to make this information widely known and reach all of our workers that are working these calls. A more educated workforce will further our cause for a contract much better than trying to push the issue with Freeman!

AV Standard 0001 – Tripod and Fast-Fold Screens
AV Standard 0002 – Fast-Fold Screen Dress Kits-1
AV Standard 0003 – Flipcharts and Whiteboards
AV Standard 0004 – Safelock Stands and AV Carts
AV Standard 0005 – Cable Care and Taping
AV Standard 0006 – Electrical Metering-Circuit Load Calculation
AV Standard 0007 – Cleaning Exhibit Equipment
AV Standard 0008 – Meeting Room Speaker Placement-Setup
AV Standard 0009 – Audio Recording-Marantz CDR-420
AV Standard 0010 – Analog Audio Recording
AV Standard 0011 – Video Display Image Optimization
AV Standard 0012 – Choosing Correct Video Conduits-Distance Limitations
AV Standard 0013 – Presentation Computer Setup
AV Standard 0014 – Security-Theft Prevention
AV Standard 0015 – Pipe and Drape
AV Standard 0016 – Microphone Placement
AV Standard 0017 – General Session Lectern Microphone Placement
AV Standard 0018 – Conventional Lighting Instruments
AV Standard 0019 – Lighting Trees
AV Standard 0020 – Blocking Exits
AV Standard 0021 – Marking Damaged Equipment – Repair Stickers-Damaged Tape
AV Standard 0022 – Flat-Panel Video Display Handling
AV Standard 0023 – Console and Cable Labeling
AV Standard 0024 – Truck Loading-Unloading
AV Standard 0026 – Wireless Microphone Setup

Behind the tutu: A Nutcracker Review

by Sister Joan Miller

When talking with deckhands during Nutcracker, I often say, “They keep me in the basement”, like some monster in the cellar. During the Broadway shows, they can see what I do.  I may be in the wings or in a quick change area, and the performer arrives in one costume and leaves in another.

Nutcracker is different. Except for a single occasional quick change and the guest artist, I rarely go further than the wardrobe room, and the dancers can find me there. This is a resident company and I have been dressing the principal women for a long time, through changes of dancers, directors, theatre venues, and Nutcracker productions.

The new costumes are gorgeous. Every costume has multiple fabrics and trims with lots of details, from the small roses on the Sugar Plum classical tutu to the ruffles, beading and trim on the party dresses for the women and girls, with lush brocade fabrics throughout. The costume design reminds me of the women’s chorus costumes for Wicked – nothing succeeds like excess.

The previous costumes for the women in the opening party scene of Nutcracker were Empire style high-waist dresses.  They were not tightly fitted and went on and off with hooks and eyes and snaps. Trinka and I could easily get them all dressed in the last five minutes, and there was a long curtain speech.  The new design by Judana Lynn is Victorian, with tightly fitted bodices and very full skirts with lots of petticoats built in. And, every one of them laces up the back. The snowflake costumes also lace up the back, as they did before.

Sidebar — About lacing:  Usually, lacing is just like shoes, the lace going from inside to out. But sometimes the bodice stretches out. So, to get a tighter fit, we might overlap the back and lace like an over under running stitch. And always tie at top and tuck in the ends really well.

So I start checking on/nagging the company dancers at half hour. No one wants to wear a heavy skirt for long, but they cooperate, and I can usually get one laced in before Bill calls fifteen. Trinka comes in to help, and we hook skirts and lace bodices as quickly as we can.  Fortunately, there’s still a curtain speech.

Once they leave, I set out the romantic tutus for the 3 or 4 quick changes from party scene into snow. Then I help Trinka lace the apprentice dancers in the adjoining room into their tutus for snow.

The Snow Queen finishes putting on her shoes and ties the ribbons really well, stitching or taping the knot at her ankle, and I hook her into her classical tutu. (Made of a stretchy fabric, this one hooks up the back.)

There’s a brief pause before I hear the dancers running up the hall like the Queen Victoria race in a Monty Python sketch.  Trinka and I begin unlacing them in the wig room even as Wendy and Casey take off their hairpieces, and I follow the dancer up the hallway, usually unlacing as we go.

In the dressing room, I unhook the skirt, then go and unlace and unhook someone else. We act quickly so that she has time to put on her snowflake headpiece, and pin it really well.  Change from heeled character shoes to pointe shoes, and tie the ribbons really well.  As well as put on her costume, so that Trinka or I can lace her up.

Once they leave, the Sugar Plum Fairy finishes putting on her pointe shoes (and tying them really well) and gets into her tutu. She goes to stage as the snowflakes return to the dressing room.

And the Snow Queen who was gracefully bowing in front of the curtain has less than 20 minutes to become the lead Flower in Waltz of the Flowers in Act Two.

(End part one. Begin part two.)

As any stagehand knows, intermission is a break for the audience, not the crew or the dancers.  A full costume change can take as long as a full set change.  The spirit of cooperation among the dancers is amazing. The alternate dancer is standing by, helping with the change of headpiece and shoes.

So, intermission is — unlace and unhook snow costumes, hang them up, pull dress shields from the party dresses, take laundry to the laundry room where Linda will put it in the washer, while the dancers do their hair, makeup, and shoes. I lace and hook each dancer into the costume for whichever divertissement she is doing that show, which changes every performance.  And, sometimes they change from one pair of tights to another.  Which means, pointe shoes come off, old tights off, good tights on, and pointe shoes back on. There is no curtain speech, no extra time except a short overture.

Sidebar — we have a diminishing supply of tights as the Danskin factory has closed. The new costumes for party scene make the tights turn fuzzy with yarn pills. So the dancer changing to a classical tutu, such as in the Spanish divertissement, will save her better tights for act two.

Once the dancers go to stage, it’s time for Mother Ginger, the guest artist of each performance.

Usually Wendy is just finishing her makeup, and I chat with the ballet staff while keeping an eye on the show monitor.  I dress the guest in the bodice, gloves, and headpiece for photos, and then take it off and carry it while the ballet staff leads the guest to stage left. The goal is to start putting the guest into the skirt framework at the first divertissement.

Sidebar — My mnemonic for the order of Nutcracker is Sacre bleu!  Spanish, Arabian, Chinese, Russian, French — then Mother Ginger.

I turn the guest over to Val and they disappear under the skirt, while I climb the 8-foot ladder in back. The guest pops out of the top of the skirt and I dress him/her from the ladder, telling her/him to turn around so I can zip the bodice and clip the headpiece, then let the guest know which way is front. I climb down, leaving the guest trapped in the skirt.

The guest is usually someone notable from the city — I’ve met the mayor, the city manager, the fire chief, army colonels, teachers, reporters — all of whom have agreed to be made up, dressed up, climb a ladder, put on a rolling platform and sent onstage.

The first time Mother Ginger went out (without guest) in the new production, the bonbons drop came in and hit the rolling skirt; I heard Glenn say over radio something about he shouldn’t fly it in that fast.  The first guest for the dress rehearsal was Sarah Butler, one of the richest and most generous patrons of the arts in Austin. She told us that the hair was in her face (Wendy fixed it) and the chinstrap was too tight (Alexey fixed it). The first guest for a public performance was Jennie Tuttle, librarian at Clayton Elementary School.  The disease ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) has taken her ability to speak, but she communicated beautifully with a look and a gesture. She gave a delightful performance, recognizing the amazing dancing of the bonbons before her.

Then the bonbons exit downstage left.  Val and Charlie roll Mother Ginger off upstage left, George sets up the ladder for me, and I climb up, unhook the headpiece and unzip the bodice, and hand them to Sam, as the guest disappears back under the skirt. When he/she reappears, we go out to the hall, where I put the costume back on the guest for a picture with the bonbons. Wendy takes the headpiece and leads the guest artist off to remove the makeup. I take the bodice and gloves and go back to the basement.

I clean makeup off the Mother Ginger bodice and the snow tutu, and start replacing dress shields while the show finishes. The dancers return after curtain call, and we unlace and unhook, hang up costumes and spray them with alcohol, collect laundry from the dancers, start the washers, and go have a drink.

Then do it again the next day.

My prep for the call is to check tights and repair as needed (see sidebar about Danskin) and my show call is to lace bodices like corsets. I also do hand sewn repairs as needed, all very 19th century skills. I am glad that laundry has advanced to the twentieth century. And, grateful for 21st century monitors so I can see what is happening on stage, where the dancing is, and where my union brothers and sisters are doing their part to make Nutcracker a wonderful holiday tradition for Austin.

Names dropped
Part one: Trinka Withers, Judana Lynn, Bill Sheffield, Wendy Sanders, Casey (?), Queen Victoria, Monty Python
Part two: Linda Steele, Wendy Sanders, Valerie Sadorra, Glenn Dunn, Sarah Butler, Alexey Korygin, Jennie Tuttle, Charlie Hames, George Wenning, Sam Chesney


2014 Officer Nominations!

It’s that time (again)! Nominations happened at the meeting on January 20th.
Here’s the line up:


For President:
Rachel Magee

For Vice-President:
Todd Drga
Bon Davis

For Business Agent:
Lupe Perez
Nikki Combs
Keith Harris
Charlie King

For Secretary Treasurer:
Rita Kelso
Erica Richie

For Recording Secretary:
Michelle Ferrier

For Seargant at Arms:
Mikela Cowan


For General Fund Trustee:
Kevin Richie
Keith Harris

For Death Fund:
Keith Harris
Rita Kelso

For Delegate to the International Convention (in 4 years):
Jim Ford
Bon Davis
Rachel Magee
Katy Hallee
Keith Harris
Rick Tatum
Lupe Perez
Kevin Richie


Voting will be held at the next meeting on February 17th at 10am.
4818 E Ben White Blvd
Austin, TX 78741


Note: There will be NO write ins on this election.

Concluded: USITT 2014 Winter Symposium

USITT Winter Symposium will be January 17th-19th.

The coordinator, Rusty Cloyes, has given Local 205 a 3 hour time slot on Saturday, January 18th, starting at 1pm to give a presentation. Ben Adams from the IATSE Education Department will come and give the Union presentation to college students (about an hour of the time) and then 205 will cover the rest of the time. Things to be covered: A brief overview of how to get work with the union here, what is expected and safety issues. If you would like to help teach the class please contact sister Michelle Ferrier at

From Sister Ferrier:

“Finally – any of us that are not working during the event (USITT) have been invited to register, pay the fee and attend any of the sessions. Preregistration fee is $60 (this includes the $5 USITT Membership fee). ”

**A couple of notes:
The 2014 USITT Conference & Stage Expo will be held in Ft. Worth this year. Member registration is cheaper than non-member registration.
USITT membership cost for an individual is $108, $162 for a professional. If you can or are able attend any of the Winter Symposium here, the $60 registration fee is a substantial discount.

USITT Winter Symposium 2014
USITT Winter Symposium 2014 Flyer

Concluded: Basic Fly Rail Class at The Long Center

From Jim Larkin, Director of Production at the Long Center:

All – we have identified the afternoon of Thursday December 26 as the next time to have a Basic Fly Rail Class, beginning at 12noon and lasting approximately 4 hours. The Advanced Class and qualifying tests of individuals will occur on Monday, December 30th from 9am to 6pm. Classes and exams will be held on the Meredith Stage of Dell Hall.

There is no limit to the number of participants for the class, but we would like to know how many students plan to attend, so that we can have the appropriate amount of pastries and coffee. The time required for the qualifying exam is dependent upon the number of candidates electing to take the exam.

The Basic Rail Class is a prerequisite for the Advanced Fly Rail Class. The Basic Class covers the environment of fly rail and loading rail, establishes standards of communication, and qualifies individuals to operate balanced loads that have already been installed on the system. The Advanced Rail Class provides instruction and qualification on the operation of the rail with unbalanced loads during a load in/out. Both the Basic and the Advanced classes are required prior to taking the test that fully qualifies an individual as an approved fly rail operator at The Long Center.

Please confirm participation with Frank Cortez. Email only; no phone calls please.

[For spam prevention, completing the form is necessary to reveal the contact email].

Claire Hunt

The latest addition to the newsletter committee passed this morning, November 18, 2013.

She was driving in to a load out call in Austin from her home in Cedar Creek around 3am when she was involved in a head on collision. A car in oncoming traffic crossed double yellow lines.

Claire, you were a wonderful friend, positive co-worker, and loving mother. You will be missed ~


Memorial service Monday, November 25th, 2013

McCullough Theatre
2375 Robert Dedman Drive
Austin, Texas 78712

There will be an mic available for speeches, and if anyone wants to play a number or two please contact Mike Malak at Texas Performing Arts. Stage Alliance will be providing refreshments.
If you want to help out with set up, please contact David Seb Boone at Texas Performing Arts.
If you can’t help with the set up but want to bring something, please bring a potted plant by 2pm to use for decoration. Claire loved nature and used to participate in plant/seed swaps. At the end of the event everyone who brought a plant can take a plant (other than the one they brought) to help with clean up.

Please keep in mind that parking at UT is very difficult.

Event schedule thus far:

This is what we have planned so far:

set-up. All are invited to help, but set-up will be minimal and no further hands should be needed.

House and Lobby opened to public. Please enter from the FRONT of the McCullough Theatre (not the back as stagehands typically do)

VERY casual event.

3pm – 4:30pm

Decorations will be provided by YOU with a PLANT SWAP dedicated to Claire’s love for plants: Bring a plant and at the end of the day take a plant home. – see Seb
Other decorations will be by Claire. If you have ANY of her art work, please bring to display. – see Seb
Book of Memories book. Sign, draw pictures, whatever. This will be given to Claire’s family.
Background music of Claire’s favorite songs – compiled by Clay Allison
“Socializing” – hang out and meet Claire’s friends and family
Refreshments – furnished by Stage Alliance
Donations to Claire’s Daughter’s college fund – see Mikela ( M Neko Cowan ) for details
Live music – performed by Alejandro
Other possible Live Music – see Mike Malak for details
Video / slide show of Claire, her art, and her life – see Mike Malak to submit pictures and video

Welcoming and Thank you’s
Speeches. Open mic to all who wish to speak, sing, dance, or whatever to share memories and stories about Claire. This is informal. No sign-up sheet. Take turns at the mic. – see Seb

? – 7pm
More “socializing”. See 3pm-4:30pm

Doors locked. Clean up begins.

For up to date information:


Claire always had a smile. -photo courtesy of Kenny Kuykendall
Claire always had a smile.
-photo courtesy of Kenny Kuykendall
Between scene shifts at Austin Lyric Opera's Don Carlo she created this in collaboration with other deck hands. -photo courtesy of Ryan Gallagher
Between scene shifts at Austin Lyric Opera’s Don Carlo she created this in collaboration with other deck hands.
-photo courtesy of Ryan Gallagher