Chris Fretts, Technical Director, is starting his 22nd season with the IRT, which means he has been in charge of the technical design and construction of the scenery for nearly 200 productions! The scenery that he and the Scene Shop staff build must move and change in many complex ways—and sometimes those moves take IRT’s scenery to other theatres around the United States. Learn more about his role, his US ranking in a World War II tabletop game, and some of his biggest construction challenges in his Staff Q&A.
How long have you worked at the IRT and in what role(s)?
This will be my 22nd Season. That means by the end of this season I will have been responsible for the construction of scenery for exactly 199 productions over the years. I am responsible for the technical design of the scenery – how it’s made, how it moves and how we can afford it. This is based on the visual designs provided by our Scenic Designers.
What does a typical day look like for you and what do you enjoy most about working in your department?
Every show brings a variety of new challenges.
Favorite Indy restaurant or place to visit or thing to do?
I live on the Eastside of Indy and enjoy all of the Irvington restaurants and the new places opening on my side of town.
Do you have a favorite show(s) you’ve seen at the IRT?
Most recently I enjoyed the challenges of all the moving scenery for Holmes and Watson. This was one of the most technically complex shows we have attempted and I was very proud of the Scene Shop’s work in making that production move so smoothly from scene to scene.
What’s been one of the most fun or most challenging projects you’ve worked on for a production at the IRT?
The massive 4-story fire escape structure that was the backdrop for A Raisin in the Sun. The basic construction was a challenge, but since this was a co-production with Syracuse Stage, the entire structure had to break down into pieces, get loaded into a truck and set up again at Syracuse. The installation at Syracuse needed to be completed in about 1 day – and it was!
If you weren’t at work, where could we find you and what would you be doing?
I am a tabletop miniature World War 2 Wargamer playing locally and at Tournaments around the US. For the game I play, Flames of War, I am ranked in the top 10 Players in the United States.
What other types of arts and entertainment do you enjoy?
I enjoy being home with my wife, Claire Dana (IRT’s Charge Scenic Artist), and our cats, Wesley and Buttercup.
Which production are you most looking forward to in the 19-20 season and why?
I am looking forward to the challenge of Murder on the Orient Express. This is a co-production with a new partner, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Given the significant differences in our spaces, it will be interesting to see how that Scenic Design develops. I also enjoy collaborating with my counterparts at other Regional Theatres.
The IRT produces top-quality, professional theatre that engages, surprises, challenges and entertains people throughout their lifetimes, helping to build a vital and vibrant community.
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