Our first rehearsal in the Miller Barn

Recently (June 16, 2011), we had our first opportunity to rehearse in the Miller Barn at the Fanshawe Pioneer Village. It’s a versatile space, with great acoustics. It also has a double-stairway and an upstairs, two features that we immediately capitalized on.  Another notable feature is the large mill-wheel sitting right outside, setting the stage beautifully for a play about the contest between two millers. It would be hard to ask for a better venue in which to perform The Miller and His Men.

The Miller Barn is itself almost a character in the show. It represents the former frame barn in which the play was staged by the Officers of the London Garrison in 1842—The Theatre Royal. Through Michael Gelman’s perceptive lens, we see moments of hilarity, reflection, and despair as our cast negotiate the emotional extremes of the melodramatic tradition:

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2 Responses to Our first rehearsal in the Miller Barn

  1. Ron Graner says:

    Re; Rquest to make a doc. Just viewed the interview. Sounds like fun stuff. Is it being performed as progressive theatre, where the cast and audience move to various rooms or locations during the course of the the play, or is it more-or-less static?
    A couple of suggestions. In the interview (obviously using consumer-grade equipment.) Try to use external mics. (lavalier mics are best) for better sound and a mixer. When shooting against a light background increase aperture by one or two stops so the subjects won’t look like they are in shadow. Even amateur equipment can be adjusted for proper exposure.
    Varying the camera angle is difficult with one camera , but not impossible. Having two cameras makes things much easier.

    • Mark Tovey says:

      Hello Ron,

      Thanks so much for your suggestions!

      The show is being performed on a thrust stage, in a single location, with the audience on three sides.

      External mics: for scenes with dialogue, there are sometimes as many as five actors on-stage at once, and moving around, so using corded lavaliers would be tricky. Do you have an thoughts/suggestions on choosing and using transmitter packs for lavalier mics when multiple actors are speaking? Are there frequency overlap problems that you need to be careful of, for instance?

      For the musical numbers, there can be as many as twelve singers on stage at once, also moving around. Would individual lavaliers still be the best approach here? Or perhaps a lavalier on the solist(s), with some other form of microphone setup (i.e. classic stereo pair) to capture the chorus?

      Backgrounds/exposure: The backgrounds here will mostly be dark, as seen in the photographs above. We’re adding lights to the barn, which will make it easy for the audience to see the actors, but I’m not sure whether the stage lighting will are sufficient for video. How can you tell whether you have enough light?

      Two cameras: Assuming we use two cameras, are there some rules of thumb on how they should be most effectively used/deployed (i.e., one mobile, for closeups, one on a tripod to capture the whole scene)? Is there a way to ensure that they match in terms of exposure?



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