For several years Bestek has been honored to provide the staging and lighting equipment for the Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids and Dancers Responding to AIDS annual Fire Island Dance Festival. This summer was the 23rd Annual event, where award winning Choreographers and Dancers perform for an audience in an effort to raise money to assist those living with HIV/AIDS and other debilitating illnesses. These organizations give access to lifesaving medications, counseling, meals, and emergency financial assistance to those who need it most.
The annual festival, which takes place in Fire Island Pines, NY has had 61 works premier since its inception in 1995. Over the past seven years the festival has broken the previous year’s fundraising record. Over the course of its 23 years the festival has raised more than $5.5 Million for their many programs.
Build an Outdoor Theatre
Transform a hilly backyard with a pool, Jacuzzi, patio, and garden on the bay side of Fire Island into an outdoor theater—including a stage for dance, wing space, camera risers, and tiered audience seating. The ground under the stage section varied by over 18”.
Working with the client and the homeowner, Bestek’s Staging and Rigging heads designed a sophisticated staging system that required the use of both stock and custom platforming, framing and bracing to create a 24’ by 48’ stage at 48” tall and 20 tiers of audience seating. This included aisles for audience egress and complied with all local fire codes as well as 6” up to 120” in varying height.
Transport four trucks of staging, lighting, and heaters from the Bestek warehouse and offices in West Babylon, New York to Fire Island. Design and manage a load-in and load-out to minimize any inconvenience to the homeowner.
Using local barge services, four Bestek trucks were transported to Fire Island. To accomplish the transport into only four trucks, only six stage carts were sent, which freed-up truck space to maximize the load. However, part of the challenge was also the “long carry” from the truck unloading area to the backyard—about 500 yards! The carts would need to be loaded, unloaded, and “leapfrogged.” This meant we would need a crew of about 50 stagehands. Most of these hands were provided by the client’s network of volunteers and dancers, supervised by the Bestek staff! Loading and unloading risers by hand at both our warehouse and the job site would add to the prep, set-up, strike, and return time and needed to be factored into the Production Schedule. Getting the entire needs of the show loaded usually requires patience and repacking the last two trucks to make it all fit into the allotted four trucks.
The tide schedule and availability of the freight barges were also part of the challenge.
Bestek’s crews needed to be prepared up to three days in advance of the load in day to transport the trucks by the local ferry service. CDL drivers were needed for each truck on not only the mainland, but also Fire Island as the unloading area was a short drive from the ferry dock. Due to freight company restrictions, trucks can only travel over during low tide. Also, despite the difference in length and weight of the trucks, they did need to be unloaded in a specific order, and, therefore the bay-crossing schedule needed to be coordinated with the Bestek Project Manager and the Ferry Captains as both had different responsibilities and priorities. Flexibility and contingency planning was needed by both parties to achieve these goals.
- Project Management
** All images are used with permission by Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids, and Dancers Responding to Aids. Photography credit goes to Daniel Roberts **