by Laura Pates, Shop Lead on The Parchman Hour

Laura Pates is a first-year Technical Production MFA student who tracked down and transported a real 1960s bus into the Paul Green Theater to become part of the set for The Parchman Hour.

Laura Pates and production manager Michael Rolleri pose by the bus (before it was chopped up).

The interior of the bus

The bus is one of the main elements of Mckay’s set design and references many incidents in the Civil Rights Movement. I was given the task of finding a 1950s-60s era city bus within our available budget and driving distance. I started by contacting every junk yard, scrap yard, wrecking company and bus company within a 2 hours radius of Chapel Hill. Through research and the help of some people I spoke to, I was put into contact with a man in Warsaw, NC who knew everybody and everything there is to know about buses in the country. He gave me the name of a man in Fayetteville who had exactly what we needed (among roughly 90 other buses he has behind his house). I then contacted him and arranged a time for us to drive to Fayetteville, find our bus, and arrange a deal.

The next step was the most interesting and definitely the most fun. Our entire crew took 3 trucks with 2 trailers and every tool we could think of to cut a 40′ long bus literally in half. We sectioned it into about 7 pieces as we had to carry the pieces through woods and a maze of buses, out to our trucks. We brought the pieces back to the theatre and have begun reassembling the bus in our scene shop. It has been a long process and we ran into many obstacles, but the end product makes it more than worth the effort.
Disassembling the bus
Come check out the bus in our production of The Parchman Hour, running October 26 – November 13!