Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Welding fit for a King"
by Trevor Collins

Trevor is a carpenter in the PlayMakers scene shop and is responsible for building the sets for Mainstage and PRC2 productions.

Big Bertha, the massive PlayMakers welder
In the PlayMakers shop there are three Lincoln Electric MIG welders, however only one of them has been given a name: Bertha. Big Bertha to be precise, and she is about two sizes larger than the other two newer welders in the shop. The graduate students, both past and present, remember her fondly. Despite her larger size, given a choice, Bertha is the welder we reach for nine times out of ten.
For the set build of Henry IV and Henry V, Bertha saw a lot of action. Since the set is predominantly made of steel, we required a larger number of crew members in the steel section of the shop than usual.  With so much steel in the production, all three welders have been employed, but Bertha has remained the favorite.

“Welding” or steel work is about 70% preparation, 10% welding, and 20% clean up. After all of the work of cutting the numerous pieces, setting up the countless jigs, bending all of the trussing and double checking everything a multitude of times, having Bertha at your side, to assist in creating one of the nicest welding beads you’ve ever produced, is icing on the cake.

What sets Bertha apart from the other MIG welders in the shop is that the black box housing the welding wire is removable. It can be rolled around about 20 feet away from where the rest of Bertha is. Once we moved the set into the Paul Green Theatre, we were able to keep Bertha at the back wall of the theatre and weld anywhere on the set, saving us lots of time and energy in not having to lift one of the welders onto the stage.

Bertha is a vital piece of equipment in the scene shop enabling us to complete our sets in time for tech. She is one of those tools that makes you wonder how any shop could survive with out having a Big Bertha of their own.

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The Making of a King: Henry IV and Henry V runs January 28 to March 4. Click here for more information and tickets.