It Takes An Army: Building The World of Other Than Honorable, Part 1

Geva is thrilled to present the world premiere of Other Than Honorable, written by Jamie Pachino and directed by Kimberly Senior, running April 25-May 21! As our team plunges into tech rehearsals, we’re offering a behind-the-scenes series on how Geva constructs a new play for the Wilson Stage:

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Scenic Design: “Turning, turning…”

Other Than Honorable’s scenic design features not one, but TWO concentric turntables! Jack Magaw, the scenic designer, wanted to emulate the play’s constant dramatic movement in the world itself. The double turntables—which can move independently of each other, and even move in opposite directions simultaneously—also allow characters (especially the protagonist, lawyer Grace Rattigan) to stay in place on one turntable, while a new obstacle suddenly rounds the corner on the other. This effect is particularly important in Act I, when Grace is barraged with an onslaught of discoveries that drive her towards her strategy as a prosecutor in a military sexual assault case.

While the turntables present a spectacular effect onstage, they can present a challenge for the rehearsal process. Our actors will not get to rehearse on working turntables until tech rehearsals, just a few days before public performances begin. Thankfully, our wonderful Other Than Honorable stage management team (Frank Cavallo and Jenny Daniels) steps in during rehearsals to make up for not having turntables in our upstairs rehearsal studio. For example, Frank and Jenny are often moving furniture that needs to “disappear” via a turntable between scenes. As for actors entering and exiting on moving turntables, the cast adjusts as much as they are able in the rehearsal room, and will then relearn these parts of their blocking once they are on the moving set. To keep track of where they are onstage when staging turntable sections, director Kimberly Senior and the actors have developed nicknames for the two turntables: “Les Miz” for the smaller, inside turntable (named for the famous turntable in Les Miserables), and “Superior Donut” for the larger, outside turntable (named more for its shape than for any resemblance to the Tracy Letts play, per say).

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The photos in this slideshow illustrate what the two turntables look like as our crew installs them, while ensuring that the motors are running and that the platforms are safe for performers to stand on before any set dressings or paint can be applied. Erik Benson, our technical director, noted that this turntable installation is a little bit different from Geva’s usual process: Normally, all the pieces built in our scene shop are simply laid over the flat stage. Now, because the single turntable from Private Lives is still installed, it made more sense to build Other Than Honorable’s double-turntable around the pre-existing Private Lives turntable, rather than starting from scratch.

And, here’s a video of our team testing the completed outer “donut” turntable…It’s working!

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