Tour of the theater today was very productive, but there are still some open issues to resolve.
1. Prof. Loren Schreiber checked the rigging. He said it is absolutely up to date, apparently renovated in the past few years. The fly loft is the same configuration as what is used at the Olde Globe, and if I'm not mistaken, they are able to conduct theatrical presentations there.
I asked him directly if there is anything wrong with the fly loft and rigging system that exists. He said there is absolutely no reason it cannot be used immediately for productions. The roof DOES NOT need to be lifted "45 fee" and there is no need to spend $25,000 to do any further investigation.
With that said,
a. the rigging is lacking a "loading platform" a catwalk which is conventionally placed about 15 ft below the grid level to allow placement of counterweights to offset scenery newly attached to the batten. This element is not present in all theaters. It is possible to work around it by using a chain and winch to raise the scenery for the first time and allow the counterweights to be installed. Once the scenery is raised and the counterweights installed, there is no need for the winch because the system is then in balance and can be operated by hand (during a performance). Loren will talk to his friend who used to run the ECPAC theater in the early days.
See this diagram: http://www.jamesf.com/readme/rigging.pdf
b. Rob Turner, El Cajon Public Works Manager, said it was not possible for Loren ( who is a professional rigger with his own insurance) to climb the ladder to inspect the lighting catwalks. Therefore, this is still an open issue. The two lighting bars that are over the audience were originally able to be lowered and the lights adjusted. With this system, because it is difficult to aim the lights when it is lowered and get them exactly right, it is frequently necessary to lower them several times. For some reason, CCT/ABM decided to fix these bars in position and allow a person to crawl through a hole in the firewall, and out onto a nonstandard catwalk, to aim the lights.
I understand that the current state of the art for such lights is to have a winch system which does not use counterweights, but which also provides for a sling/slider to allow a person to be carried up with the light bar, and then he can slide down the light bar and adjust each of the lights in one quick operation, and then be lowered down with the rest of the light bar.
However, the best course of action may be to fix the rigging that existed before. This is something that will need to be determined by the representative of a lighting company. It turns out that will probably be Loren Schreiber as well, but with insurance naming the city as also insured.
c. The grid is 40 feet over the stage. The proscenium height is variable, but set to about 16 feet when were were there.
2. The piano is in relatively good shape. Some of the notes are not as bright as the piano I have. It will take a piano expert to listen to it and the one we had in mind could not make it to this opportunity to see it.
3. The orchestra lift was examined by Lorn Schreiber. We identified several detection switches which were bent. These were meant to detect the locking bars and disallow activation of the winch if they were not disengaged. These could be easily bent back into shape. We did not see any corrosion of any note.
There are six support posts which support the lift when it is in the fully-lowered position. If we wanted to improve the capacity of the lift, it would be a simple matter to add square posts that would slide over the top of the existing support posts, and thereby reduce allow the lift to be positioned at floor level or even a bit lower, and allow a large number of people to be dancing on it.
4. Wanda Elmore wrote down names of people who had given previously to the theater.
The group went over to the tables at the courthouse for a short meeting. Mike Harding, who has experience running a theater in Illinois, will be able to provide a financial model for us to refer to or use as a starting point.
He had many really good ideas, liked the addition of the dance floor, and also suggested that we might want to have several VIP rows which would have tables to allow people to have dinner at their seats, as he said this was a big hit.
Next target: August 13 for power point presentation and plea for people to get involved in the ECPAC Foundation. We still do not have the green light from the City of El Cajon, so we need to invite everyone to this event who is a decision maker.
November 12 is the big centennial celebration. We must shoot to have the theater open somewhat for this day, at least to allow performances by local high schools, East County Youth Symphony, and maybe other acts. If that is not possible, then we should be able to at least have the lobby open and tours through the theater. Bare minimum would be to only have people outside the theater with booths and information.