The Steely Men of the Shop

Yesterday, as I rounded the corner that leads to my office, I noticed our new Technical Director, Neil Williamson, speeding towards me. The Nicholas Nickleby build has begun and the shop is literally covered in steel, which Neil wanted me to see and photograph for the blog. I’m so glad he did because it is an awesome sight. 

At any given time, there are no less than 4 welders working and Neil guesses this will be going on for at least the next couple of weeks. You have to be really careful back there because the light from the welding can burn your eyes without the proper safety equipment and everywhere you turn someone is welding something. 

You’ll notice in these pictures that everyone is wearing masks and leather sleeves. I took them from a distance while looking back over my shoulder, rather than through my lens. 
Here are some interesting stats about the NN set build (provided by Neil):

There will be 400 Linear Feet of Box Truss: 20 pieces at 20 feet per piece
The build will use:
834 linear feet of 1″ x 1″ steel box tube (the outside framework)
534 linear feet of 3/8″ solid steel rods (the criss-cross pieces in the center)
Early/rough estimates suggest that there will be about 3 tons of steel on stage.  
If these numbers sound mind-boggling, it’s because they are. This is the largest set anyone remembers building here at PRC. 
Neil promises to keep me updated as the build progresses. I’m hearing tales of a flying platform that is going to weigh roughly 1,000 pounds. As soon as that process gets underway, pictures will follow. 
Because this post wouldn’t be possible without Neil Williamson, it seems appropriate that you know a little about him. While he is the new PRC Technical Director, he is certainly not new to PRC. Neil started working in the shops about six years ago as a carpenter. He then completed his MFA in Technical Design through the Department of Dramatic Art. After graduating, Neil served as the PRC Assistant Technical Director before moving into the top job this year. He has also worked on the Summer Youth Conservatory since it’s inception three years ago, first serving as Lighting Designer, then Technical Director and Scenic Designer for the last two years. Like me, Neil prefers not to be photographed, so you’ll have to visit the shops yourself to get a glimpse of him in action. 

Rehearsals for Nickleby started this week as well, so our traditional meet & greet took place on Tuesday. All the designers, the directors and even the playwright made presentations. Check back next week for those videos and pictures!