The Dream Team: Miguel Urbino and Ana Dratz Talk Shop on Building the MoFo Set

If you follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you know that we are knee deep into rehearsals and pre-production for our first show of the season: Stephen Adly Guirgis’ “The Motherf**ker with the Hat.” This play is one of Guirgis’ most widely produced, but this production marks the NYC revival! The award winning Broadway production received numerous accolades, including a Tony Award nomination for Best Scenic Design by Todd Rosenthal. The play is set New York City, specifically in 3 NYC apartments. Pulling off seamless transitions from one scene to the next provides unique challenges for any producer and scenic designer. In our case, the challenge of creating three different apartments in out blackbox theatre space was quite large. Thankfully, our Scenic Designer and Technical Director were up to the task! The set is still being built and yet already, these two have met and surpassed the vision of our Director (Peter Jensen) and have managed to stay within our Producer’s budget. Simply put, we would like you to meet the dream team, our dream team, who has made this world possible:Miguel Urbino, Scene Designer | Ana Dratz, Technical Directornn

1. How did you guys come to work on the show?

Miguel Urbino: A friend of mine from Marymount had worked with T. Schreiber Studio in the past and recommended me for the designer position. I applied, interviewed, and got the job! I then was asked if I knew anyone who could be the technical director.nnAna Dratz: So Miguel asked me if I would be interested and I said yes!

2. Can you walk me through your processes from getting a script to actually building it?

MU: I always start with reading the play, then re-reading it a couple of times. I then met with the Peter (the director) and after discussing his vision for the show I proceeded to do some architectural and period research pertaining to this script. I came up with some preliminary ideas to show him. After Peter and I agreed on a design, I did a set of technical drawings, which I then submitted to Ana.

AD: I read the script as well and when Miguel gave me final drawings, I priced out the design to see if the cost of materials would fall within our budget. I also had final say over whether or not we could realistically finish the project in time. Luckily, it all worked out budget and time-wise, so there were no major changes that needed to be made. However, throughout build we figured out ways to both simplify and improve upon the design.

3. So Ana, you are the technical director, and Miguel you are the set designer. Do you mind explaining where the two jobs overlap and differ?

AD: Typically, the scenic designer submits designs and drawings and the TD will take over and coordinate the build. The designer usually makes a few visits and checks in on the build to see if it’s coming together as they’d agreed upon. However, since Miguel and I have worked so much together in the past, we have established a very good working relationship that allows us to speak freely about concept, execution, and bringing the design from an idea to a real, physical set.

MU: We have a really good work relationship and we basically have the same mind. Ana is able to tell me flat out when something is unrealistic within the confines of the space, time, and/or budget. As a designer, I like to explore the many possibilities any given play can present. However, at the end of the day my design needs to be build-able and the TD is there to be the voice of reason. I’m lucky to have someone like Ana who understands how I think as a designer and is open to exploring some more challenging ideas.

4. Which place in the play has been your favorite to design and build?

MU: It’s not so much that one apartment is my “favorite”, it’s the challenge of how do we distinguish each location.

AD: There’s only so much you can do in a small space when you want to show three different interiors. Moving furniture around can only get you so far, so the moving walls were our biggest challenge, but also the best part of the design, because it allowed us to present a new space for each location.

5. What about this production excites you the most?

AD: I was present at the first read-through/design presentation and I was so impressed with the cast and creative team. I’m excited to see how it all comes together.

MU: I agree completely. I think the people you work with shape your experience in any theatrical production or any work environment and I’m excited to get to work and collaborate with amazing people.

We are excited to work and collaborate with them as well! Thank you Ana and Miguel for your talents and hard work! And we’ll see YOU at the show — beginning October 19th!nnTickets on sale now: Buy Tickets Now!

Ana Dratz (Technical Director) graduated from Marymount Manhattan College class of ’15 with a Bachelor of the Arts in Theatre Performance where she is now employed as the master carpenter. This is Ana’s first production with T. Schreiber Studio. Other companies she has worked for include NYU Tisch School of the Arts, the York Theatre, and Missoula Children’s Theatre. In addition to theatre, Ana is a substitute teacher for early childhood education and is part of a folk-pop trio that goes by the name of Boy Band. Ana is a two-time Harry Potter trivia winner.

Miguel Urbino (Scenic Designer) T. Schreiber Studios debut. Miguel is a recent graduate of Marymount Manhattan College, where he studied Scenic and Costume Design. Credits include: Scenic Design: On Striver’s Row (MMC), As You Like It and Julius Caesar (Hip to Hip), Into the Woods (NJYT), John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore (MMC), American Idiot (NJSDA), The Widow of Tom’s Hill (59E59, Off-Bway), Cabaret (NJYT), The Light in the Piazza (MMC), and more. Costume Design: Icarus’ Mother, Ivanov, Wasp, A Chorus Line. Lighting Design: Harold Pinter’s A Kind of Alaska. Current projects include Spring Awakening (NJSDA, Costumes), and more. For more information, visit murbinodesigns.com

The Man Himself

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If you have come to this website, chances are incredibly strong that you are familiar with the man himself: Terry Schreiber. Terry has been teaching and directing professionally in New York for over four decades now. That is more than 40 years of teaching and being active in a field that is ever changing. and has evolved immensely due to new technology that has created new platforms to produce content: Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Vimeo, and more. Yet, amongst this loud and often head-spinning industry, it is vital now more than ever to keep in mind that it is still about the work. Below are a few of my personal favorite sentiments from Terry, a champion of creating a space for actors to work. These quotes regard the responsibility of the acting teacher and of course the craft itself. 

A safe atmosphere in class makes it easier for the actor to open up, explore, and go much deeper and more personally into the work.  An actor must know in their mind and heart that they have the privilege to fail and it is safe to do so.  

In our work, we attempt to understand the acting blocks that stop the actor from opening up feelings and emotional responses that they would have to access to fulfill the roles they might have the potential to be cast in. For any of us: actors, directors, writers, teachers, painters, musicians, these blocks are not just confined to the arts, ‘the life blocks in an individual are also the creative blocks.’  It is these “blocks” to which a teacher must be very sensitive.  We must create a safe atmosphere that is encouraging and supportive for an actor tackling some of their own blocks, as we try to help them open up the range of talent that might be within them.  We must, as teachers, be sure not to push or force, but to create a safe and trusting atmosphere where a breakthrough might happen.

 

The more an actor understands, intellectually and emotionally, what makes up the total of their being – their thinking, feeling, emotional responses – the more energy sources they can free in their instrument.

Good actors to great ones reach out and touch us by what they give from themselves, their availability to themselves, to other actors in the scene, and the material.  They fill us with feelings and responses because they have so generously and honestly connected and given of their own rich instrument.  

Call the studio or email info@tschreiber.org to sign up for Terry’s upcoming Script Analysis class starting October 13th.

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