Rama And the Tigers Arthur Dirks
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Rama and the Tigers

Adapted from
"Little Black Sambo"
By Helen Bannerman

Produced: May, 1978
Wayne State College
Director: Helen Russell
Scenery: Arthur Dirks
Facility:Ramsey Auditorium

This was my first serious wing and drop show. I think I had just read Lynn Pektal's Designing and Painting for the Theater, and could not wait to explore the whole business about cut drops. The hut was made of cornstalks, which were not easy to find in April, even in Nebraska. We had to retrieve them daily from the loading dock where the custodians put them nightly, until I confirmed that we flameproofed it.

The tree was a castered platform and base shape, and strapping lumber verticals to a top shape out of sightline. It was then draped in muslin pulled straight up from a dye/glue barrel and stapled. The biggest challenge was the vines, which Rama and several monkeys had to climb. We had some stock cut-felt-wound-on-line vines, but they weren't good enough to climb. I bought a lot of 1/4" hemp, looped it and dipped it overnight in a trash barrel of green and black Rit dye. Then I had to master the art of knotting rope ladders and figure out how to stabilize the battens from which they hung, because they moved between scenes.

I had to learn how to cut animal costumes on this one, too. The tigers were fake fur with painted stripes. The monkeys were just fake fur. I also confronted the enternal animal costume problem: the tail. I think we used tail girdles inside the costumes with a stiff wire.

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© 2007 Arthur L. Dirks