Backstage with Charlie Brown, Set Designer/CarpenterBy Laura & Mike Clark • Feb 18th, 2007 • Category: Interviews, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
We continue our shadowing of the Springfield Community Theatre’s production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown by chatting with Charlie Brown, who is the Master Carpenter and Set Designer [MP3 5:42 1.6MB]. Or read the transcript of the chat.
Mike: Hi, this is Mike with ShowBizRadio and I am backstage at the Springfield Community Theatre talking with Charlie Brown, who is the Master Carpenter and Set Designer for You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. Of course the first thing that has to be asked is, is your name really Charlie Brown?
Charlie: Yes, it really is. I was born in the same year, six months before the Charlie Brown cartoon character came out. My parents didn’t know and yes, it’s been interesting having gone through fifty some odd years with that name.
Mike: Did you ever think about using your middle name or using Charles or anything like that?
Charlie: Edward, yes I thought about changing it to Edward or Eddie. Naw I just decided to stay with it.
Mike: Has it generally been a good thing or a funny thing, a party ice breaker?
Charlie: Yeah, it’s generally been good. High school I got ribbed a lot about being called a block head. Once I got into college everybody accepted the name and got a kick out of it. It”s generally been funny.
Mike: So how did you get involved with Springfield Community Theatre?
Charlie: I was dating my current wife in 1988. She was involved as a costume designer for Springfield Community Theatre. I started helping out with sets because I had some carpentry experience. The next thing I knew they were asking me to do master carpentry of a play in the next year.
Mike: So you’ve been doing things for almost 20 years now?
Charlie: It would be like sixteen, seventeen years.
Mike: Have you had any challenging set designs to work on?
Charlie: Yes, most sets you have, have their challenges. That’s one of the reasons I like doing the sets. There was one called the Foreigner. I had to build a trap door that had to work, even though we didn’t have a place underneath it to go to so we had fake it with a little trolly type thing that went through the wall that had a quilt that made the wall cave in. Then we used smoke. That was definitely a challenge. Fortunately I had a very talented staff of carpenters working with me and they came up with some great ideas. All I did was say, “Alright, that sounds good to me.”
Mike: Have there been any challenges so far with what you’ve done for Charlie Brown?
Charlie: Yes. The monkey bars. The director really wanted to have metal pipes to make a monkey bar set made out of metal. I had to tell him I’ve never really worked with it. I came up with the idea of using wooden dowels that are an inch and a half that are definitely strong enough for people to be on. Getting all those dowels and bars to line up and getting them constructed was quite a challenge.
Mike: Is it awkward building around that existing set area up there?
Charlie: Yes and no. It actually wasn’t too bad. I had built that set a year ago and SCT was just reusing around it. That’s what we’re using this time too. So I was familiar with the set. The other interesting thing was building the dog house. Again we built it around the set so that you still get the look of a dog house with a roof that Snoopy has to ward off the Red Baron with. It wasn’t too bad. You had to make it strong enough for a person to sit on.
Mike: If you could be any Charlie Brown character, either in this show or the comic strip, which would you be do you think?
Charlie: Of course you take the obvious, Charlie Brown. There’s my name. The other one I would really like would be Linus.
Mike: Oh yeah? Is he most like you?
Charlie: I guess throughout my life I’ve been more like Charlie Brown. I’ll have some blockhead things happen to me and I’ll go, “I didn’t expect that to happen to me, but just like the cartoon character, these things happen.”
Mike: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the people that might be listening?
Charlie: It has been a real pleasure working on it. The director and producer have been real nice. I think beyond having the on the set construction. The cast looks like a real fun group. I’m really looking forward to watching the show the next weekend, February 24th.
Mike: Well, thanks very much for sharing with us about the set process and the fun things that are going on with that.
Charlie: I appreciate that you guys are doing this too. This will be interesting to hear.
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Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.