POPMART Leg 1: 1997, North America

Jun
07
2005

Brussels, production set-up

07 June 2005
Brussels, production set-up
Woke up about 2pm, opened the window then went back to bed for another hour. Along with the Hot Bath, being in bed is a place where I can sort things out and sometimes see solutions that begin to die when Im required to use any motor functions, or worse yet sit in front of a computer. The next couple of days are going to require a very great deal of energy and lateral thinking to produce a finished stadium show in a ludicrously short amount of time, so I doubled my chances of tapping hidden depths of inner genius by removing from the bed straight into said hot bath.

Compared to most stage productions (let alone productions of this scale) the initial construction time and rehearsal time is indeed very compressed. Bear in mind that we spent a month putting the indoor version of Vertigo together and youll realise that four or five days really isnt a great deal of time to create a show ten times the size. However, after last night I feel very confident about all of the elements that we have here and of course the band themselves are very well rehearsed after 28 shows. We are all keen to get more songs rehearsed and in the show, but its a great position to start from. It may be a lot more spontaneous than usual, but I think we will be able to capture the best elements of both a rock festival and a stadium spectacle.

A runner van came to pick me up to go into the stadium at 6pm. Its about a half hour drive and on the way I realised how hungry I was, not having eaten since 7pm yesterday. Time clock, body clock, circadian rhythms it all goes out of the window during production rehearsals.

Much had happened whilst I was asleep, including the construction of the ellipse / b-stage equivalent and some additional side ramps. The process of constructing something as vast and complex produces a momentum that is sometimes difficult to control and the construction of the b-stages is a case in point. The original design was to have two low curved runways coming out from the stage ending in circular stages bearing the target design. Apparently, some concern about crowd control had led to initiative being taken and some additional entry ways being added, then some more barricade added, then the height being raised to compensate for the alterations, then bridges being built, parts of the main stage being extended and so on and so on until what was once a gentle flowing series of curves had become the great wall of China. All of this had been done with the best of intentions but the result was baffling. Something clearly needs to be done, but I have decided not to engage with it yet. The band arrive tomorrow and will, I am sure, have much to say so I decided to focus my energy on the parts of the production that no-one else is thinking about, chiefly the process of turning a string of good looking scenes into a show.

Programming began again after dinner and the five of us sealed ourselves in our little oxygen tent out in the field. It was a cold night and by 4am it was near freezing out there. Programming, editing, lighting, making new video sequences, we got a lot done, but the colder it got, the slower progress seemed to be. We cranked up some T.Rex to keep the mood up, but by 6am it was fully light so there wasnt a great deal more that could be achieved. With the night crew of lighting, video and power, there were ten of us crammed in the seven passenger van to take the half hour drive back to the hotel. About half way back Raff says This is the warmest Ive been all night. You should do the programming in here tomorrow.

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