The next (and in hindsight, quite obvious) step for our blood squibs was on the stage. I got my first theatre bloodslinger gig as one get most jobs, standing around having a break and talking to a bunch of other artists. A theatre friend Eric Linegar was lighting a show called The Pillowman and they needed a character to be shot live on stage. He knew me as a puppet maker mostly, but knew I created all types of special effects and asked if I knew how to do something like that. Not sure of the details and having no idea how to approach a bullet hit without monofillament or the Braingun (see Memoirs of a Bloodslinger- Part 1), I agreed to do the job immediately! I met with director Stuart Carden and Andrew Paul, the artistic director of Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, for the first time in a production meeting and they told me that they were doing a show by an Irish playwright Martin McDonaugh called The Pillowman, and that they wanted to have a police officer (played by Pittsburgh famous Tom Atkins) put a bag over our hero Kuturian’s (played by Alex Moggridge head and then shoot him in the head. Kurturian was to then fall to the floor and have his head bleed out into a floor drain.
I had a couple of initial ideas that described to them and they seemed to think I was capable of doing the job so they gave me a deposit and I set to work figuring out how in the hell I was going to do this. I had begun working with compressed air instead of a mechanical plunger to propel blood recently, so my first idea was to put some type of device on the actor’s body and make a tubing connection when the hood was put on. Tried this a bunch in various ways and it was horrible. Back to the drawing board. Stuart had mentioned that the Broadway production that he had seen must have had a blood bag in the hood because of how quickly and the immense volume of blood that had drained from Kuturian’s head when he hit the floor. I tried several other ideas with varying levels of success and ultimately landed on a design in which on the inside of the hood was attached a small ball syringe attached to a piece of latex tubing that had bullet hole in the end, along with a quart sized blood bag gaff taped to the inside. The hood itself was made of duvitine, so it was really sturdy and held its own shape very well. So well that you didn’t notice a series of small slits in the fabric just under the blood pack. So this hood was placed on Kuturian’s head and as it was, he put the ball syringe full of stage blood in his mouth. And at the cue, Kurturian would bite hard and fast on the ball, ejecting a pretty substantial amount of blood out the back of his head. He usually paused a moment, and then he would fall to the floor using the giant blood pack as a cushion to break his fall. The bag would burst and come spraying out of the small slits in the hood onto the floor. The drama of the scene would continue to play out as the rest of the blood drained from the bag and into the floor drain. It was a very powerful moment. And a career defining one for me, because at the end of that run Stuart asked me to look at another play by Mr. Martin McDonaugh- The Lieutenant of Inishmore.
But that is a whole other story…
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