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WPI Technical Theatre Handbook: Methods
 
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Methods

Achieving an adequate balance of breadth and depth was, perhaps, the most difficult task in writing this book. It was difficult to resist the tendency to try to include every last detail about a particular topic. It was also difficult to choose topics to leave out of the text. At the same time, however, the book needed to be completed in a seven week time-frame due to the schedule of the IQP.

Several topics were chosen to be discussed in the book. These topics were chosen because they were deemed to be the most important to cover in a general technical theatre book. Thus, the final form has individual chapters dedicated to: the set and scenery, costuming, rigging, lighting, audio, power, and special effects. Topics such as properties and running crew would have been included had time allowed, but the overall usefulness of the book does not suffer due to their absence.

It was decided early on that the chapters of the book should be as independent as possible. This independence allows individual chapters of the book to be handed out for reading in a classroom situation. This is ideal, especially for classes that require non-theatre people to do hands-on work for a production. Generally, a student chooses an area of interest and works a set number of hours in that area. This work time could be made more productive and useful if the student, before working, read the relevent chapters from this book. This might also serve to reduce the frustration level of the regular theatre crowd, as the people involved will be, on the whole, more knowledgable of theatre practices.

With the topics chosen, it came time to gather information to write the text, as well as acquire photographs and diagrams to supplement the text. Information was collected from a variety of sources, as described in the previous section. Once the mass of material was collected, it had to be sorted and filtered for content. Condensing mounds of information down to a single chapter was quite a challenging and formidable task. The information included in the book had to be general enough to provide a good degree of breadth, but it couldn't be ``down to the nuts and bolts'' specific.

The same philosophy went in to creating and choosing photographs and diagrams to include. In cases where a single photograph or diagram could replace many paragraphs of text, their inclusion made perfect sense. Other photographs and diagrams were useful simply because they provide visual context to the topics discussed in the text. Many photographs were taken of the equipment specifically used at WPI. The intent of this was so that anyone who had read this book would be able to start working productions at WPI and have a fair idea of exactly what different pieces of equipment looked like.

Each chapter started as an outline, which was filled in and changed as work progressed. Using this method, rather than simply diving in and writing, allowed the book to have a fairly consistent structure. The arrangement of most of the chapters is equipment first, design second. The book probably could have been written with the opposite organizational scheme, but it seemed most logical to do it this way, as it's practically impossible to design something that uses unfamiliar equipment.

As each chapter neared completion, it recieved two proofreadings. Errors were corrected and suggestions for improvement were heeded. After the bulk of the writing was completed, the final editing phase began. In this phase, the overall consistency of the book was checked. Also, the book was indexed, figures were credited, and the bibliography was assembled in this stage. Last-minute polishing and touch-up work, followed by the creation of the book cover and acknowledgements section rounded out the project.


next up previous contents index
Next: Conclusions Up: Introduction Previous: Sources   Contents   Index
Steve Richardson 2000-07-06

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