3 Questions for SF Shakes’ New Technical Director

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Neal poses with a newly uncovered harpy head from our 2006 production of “The Tempest,” which now guards our scene shop.

Beyond the other reasons for SF Shakes to be excited this year, we are THRILLED to now have a full-time Technical Director on board! Neal Ormond joined our team in March and will spend his time building sets for Free Shakespeare in the Park and residency productions, organizing/mastering our scene shop, magically helping us to find more space for an ever-growing staff in our tiny administrative offices, and just being an all-around handy and nice guy. 

Although his previous involvements include set design and construction at Dragon Theater of Palo Alto and more recently 4 years in the advertising world as Manager of Art & Tech at Publicis, the majority of Neal’s career has been spent as an independent designer/builder, recklessly pursuing and combining the realms of mobile architecture, pyrotechnics, electric vehicles, lighting and sound design, robotics, graphic and web design, and signage.  He’s currently scheming to build a 70-foot-tall, robotic, all-terrain-covering, crew-transporting, fire-breathing, disco-dancing likeness of William Shakespeare.

We asked Neal to answer three questions to help you get to know the newest member of SF Shakes’ staff. 

What are your initial impressions of SF Shakes, after your first few weeks here? 

I’m relieved and excited to find that this is indeed the type of environment I had sensed and hoped it to be, and one in which I know I’ll fully enjoy my time while being able to contribute some really great things.  Getting to work with other creative-minded people on a daily basis means a lot to me, and we’ve got that here.  In addition, coming off a 4-year stint in the corporate world, I’m impressed and encouraged by the sheer volume of content and engagement produced without the oversized budget, thanks to our widely-talented and dedicated staff as well as all our supporters in the community.

What project are you most excited about working on in your new role as Tech Director? 

The massive undertaking for this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park tour of Hamlet looms so large on my horizon, and will be so awesome come opening night, that I’d be remiss to not list that as the project I’m currently most excited about.  The initial purging/cleaning/organizing of the shop has been a rewarding (albeit dusty) process, and the now-underway “new kitchen/green room” project will add some great space to our office. But in another week or two those will be in the rear-view mirror and everything will be 100% Free Shakespeare in the Park for me!

What’s the craziest thing so far that you’ve run across while reorganizing our scene shop and storage? 

I’ve come across an amazing variety of items as I’ve gone about reorganizing the scene shop and storage areas.  The craziest (good) thing I’ve encountered was when I was 23 precarious feet up, on top of a storage rack, and discovered deeply buried what appeared to be a massive prop gargoyle or monster head.  It turns out this was built for the 2006 production of The Tempest, and has sat undisturbed for 11 years since then.  It’s beautiful and is now more appropriately and prominently mounted and displayed in the shop. The craziest (bad) thing was the approximately 17 net pounds of dust that had accumulated across all surfaces and objects in the shop.  But I think i got most of it cleaned up! (*cough sneeze cough*).

 

Welcome, Neal. We’re so glad you’re here (and sorry about all the dust)!

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Just look at this newly organized scene shop. It’s so beautiful.

 

 

 

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