Newsletter – 10/23/2020

Dear Strand Fan, 

Covid continues to cause us to make lemonade.   We are still closed.   So far it looks like we will not have events any time soon.   We are planning on making an announcement about specific plans on or around November 1.    Until then….work work work on the stage!!!

Last week we were successful in removing the old 1916 ventilation equipment.  This equipment was located under the old stage.   Huge steel items have been buried with no access since the theater was built.   They were abandoned in place when their useful life expired.   

Each piece weighs about 500 pounds.   While we are strong we aren’t that strong.   Enter Mohr Crane Service.   Amy and Scott took one of their small cranes and put it in the back door of the theater!   It reached far enough to grab onto the pieces.  One by one each was brought up from the basement and moved to the alley.   It was amazing.    The process took all day.   When we were finished the old unexcavated basement was clear.   Thank you Mohr Crane Service!  (Did we mention Amy donated her time and equipment?  We are grateful.)

When we first built the stage in 2008, it was intended to be only temporary or until such time as we could do better.  Well, time passed, events came & went, that “temporary fix” became almost a semi-permanent structure.

Since it was never intended to be permanent, we set out to “beef it up”, so that it could stand up to the rigorous demands of an active performance.  (Think:  weight of a Steinway Concert Grand Piano)  With this in mind, we have installed 24 additional supporting legs underneath the stage.  The front panels are now in place.  When we lower the backstage area, we plan to cover the entire stage area with heavy duty type stage flooring, which should eliminate all the comedian’s jokes about a “plywood stage”!   Bob Schlick did most of this work.   Thank you Bob.

With all this work completed, we can now focus on removal of the joist.    A few are out, that that is the task for the next few sessions.     The work is slow but sure.   We have had tremendous help from Advantage Shelby County students.   We would love to see you too!   Our work sessions are on Saturdays from 9am to noon.   If we feel up to it we go until 1pm. 

We have patiently waited to get power to our new stage lights.   We just never had enough time as it requires work on the auditorium wall.   Lo and behold this week our electrician Darrell Riggs called and he said he had time.   The theater is dark, so away we go….electricity for our lights.

(Warning, tech talk ahead)  When we first installed the new lighting positions just in front of the stage, we did not have electricity in place.   Each ellipsoidal stage fixture is 575 watts.   We have 8 fixtures per side.   That requires three 20amp circuits.  We also have 4 LED PAR lights.  That requires an additional circuit.   In order to control the lights we are installing dimmer packs at the instruments.   This eliminates the need to run circuits for each fixture back to a dimmer rack.   

The new dimmer packs will be controlled by our DMX system on our main light board.  Cody V. designed the system and it is ready to integrate to our existing lights.   The new fixtures will be controlled by CAT6 cable that will bring the signal from the lightboard to the dimmers.    Darrell installed 4 circuits on each side, then ran an additional low voltage conduit for the CAT6 and any other low voltage cables we might need.  

The conduits extend under our stage and back to our panels.  They are not terminated as we need to finish the stage construction first.   The data cable conduits are run to our sound distribution room we call Circuit City.    It will be nice to have the additional lighting.   

(Tech talk to continue)  Why is it so important?    Our current stage lights are places at the edge of the balcony and at the back auditorium wall.  The light, while good, is very flat.   Flat means that the angle  from the light to the stage is shallow….or about 25 degrees.   The new lighting positions will give us 45 degrees, which in stage work is ideal.    This new angle will keep the light out of the performers eyes while they look forward.   For band and orchestra concerts, this allows the performers to be able to see the conductor.   The Shelby Community Band will do a happy dance about this.   The greater angle also gives more depth to the performers on stage.   It will be useful for all our performances.  

This week David F. spent some time talking to Johnny McCrory on WSVX Giant 96 Radio.   We appreciate the opportunity to tell our story live on air.   David surprised Johnny, as he talked about football first!   You can hear the interview on the Giant 96 website.

We do not enjoy this pandemic.  It is very hard on everything connected to the Strand.   It is hard on the physical theater being unused, it is hard on our volunteers, and it is hard on our volunteer leaders.    We are doing our best to figure out how we can remain in the downtown landscape.    

We appreciate your support and kind words.   We work every Saturday morning, stop by to just take a look too!   We all need our Strand fix.    See you at the Strand.