Icebox Radio Theater

News, events and doings surrounding the Icebox Radio Theater of International Falls, Minnesota.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Last week, I got up the motivation to tackle a project I’ve been putting off for some time. Five years ago, several very, very nice people associated with the IBRT put together a float for International Falls’ 4th of July parade. Part of that float was a large wooden sign with the theater’s name and (then) website address. That sign is the same one that people local to The Falls know and love as the now weather-beaten, banged up edifice that pops up in front of my house from time to time, with a reader board indicating when the next show or audition will take place.

Well, that original sign has seen better days. And our website changed to a different domain four years ago. But I just never quite got my act together enough to replace the sign until this month. That’s why this past week, you could have found me leaning over a sheet of plywood in my backyard, carefully trying to letter the exact same information (with updated web address) on a brand new sign.

First, I am no visual artist. This one task took close to four hours of labor, starting with painting the plywood it’s three coats of white, followed by hooking my computer to the library’s video projector, then arranging the letters just so, then tracing them in pencil. Finally, I took brush and blue enamel paint can in hand and struggled with the process of lettering ‘Icebox Radio Theater’ and ‘’ around my squiggly-lined letters.

I dripped, I splattered, I tried different brushes, I had to run to the store with work gloves on because (as it turns out) enamel paint only comes out with Mineral Spirits, and my hands were covered with a uniform blue goo that seemed to acquire a stronger grip with each attempt to wash with soap and water. But, in the end, I managed to create a sign that looked like a reasonably talented sixth grader had knocked it out in one afternoon. But it was not an unrewarding experience. I did improve as I went forward, and by the end I had learned a few brush strokes that rendered the result acceptable.

The thought that occurred to me as I went through all this is was perhaps I was living out a model for the emerging performing artist. In the future, all of us will have the chance to write, or direct our own movies and radio shows. Some of us might even start online television stations. And when that happens, somewhere someone will be applying an over-loaded paintbrush inexpertly to a sign. Big theaters hire professional sign painters. Small theater’s make do. I was forced by necessity to do something I didn’t particularly want to do. But it served a purpose, and furthered the project. Shows must be publicized, after all, otherwise they’re not really shows. They are rehearsals. I will never be an artist, but I can – given enough time – produce a not-horrible sign. And for tonight, anyway, that is enough.

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