Box 642, Oak View, CA 93022-0642
Venue that became too real!
A short narrative about the event experience
from our perspective.
There was nothing unusual about our arrival at the evening's venue. Parking was reasonable with easy access to the interior with no intervening stairs or narrow passages that would prevent the use of our two wheeled plant cart. With its low bed and pneumatic tires it lets us carry five large plants per trip saving considerable time and effort. It's usually the envy of the caterers as they wheel their smaller carts back and forth. We arrived at noon for an anticipated two hour set up. The party was to start at seven with strike set for midnight. We're coordinating with
a disc jockey,
a lighting company,
a specialty coffee service,
and of course the venue. We're really glad to see the party planner on site. She's staggered our arrivals and unloading times so that we can all get to the loading docks, stage our materials, and re-park our trucks. Even with a super planner there will be a lot of interaction and impromptu redesigning.
power will have to be shared effectively.
Props and plants will need to be complimentary.
Areas of emphasis will be pointed out.
Video screens and lighting effects will need to be unobstructed.
Uplighting placed in such a way as to not burn foliage.
Easy access to exits and rest rooms assured.
All wiring effectively hidden and/or taped.
My assistant started to unload while I perused the venue, checked in with the planner, noted ceiling heights, scanned for electrical outlets, and formed a mental picture of how our material could give the most impact. We're setting up an "Indiana Jones" theme and have material for a sixteen foot backdrop, four tropical vignettes, five Giant Bird of Paradise, and ten Kentia Palms. Once the groupings that form the backdrop and vignettes are placed they're difficult to move so we have to be very sure of location before we set to work. The coordinator has some large animal sillouettes to be integrated into our vignettes. The lighting company will uplight the plants. The DJ has two speaker tripods that will need to be disguised. The caterers would like to tie in their display with some of our plants. Thank goodness we always bring extras. I check in with the videographer regarding placement of his screens and touch base with other team members before we start our set up. There's a problem, every venue has at least one. The coffee service needs twelve feet of space where we planned on having a vignette. A quick redesign and we're building vignettes and backdrops, placing stand alones, wrapping the containers in burlap to simulate planting. There's a lot of activity, a lot to get done with a deadline. We have a moment or two when we can't continue, waiting for a prop to be placed or a DJ stand positioned. The florist is shuttling centerpieces so we lend a welcomed hand getting her material in place.
The venue goes through a complete metamorphosis. Hardly a structural wall is visible. Lighting, props, and plants create a fantasy jungle soon to become a bit too real.
Thirty minutes before the guests arrive we were marveling at our creation the way we always do, experiencing the satisfaction and privilege of being part of a special event. A security guard hurriedly walked across the room, then skirted the perimeter, poking around Kentia Palm fronds, lifting ferns, and pushing Strelitzia aside to look into our artfully placed display. Yikes! It's one half hour to guest arrival and this guys messing up our work! Two more security people shout something unintelligible as they too begin roughing up the foliage now joined by a shapely lady in a leopard skin leotard. Now I'm getting concerned. "What's up?" I ask, half agitated, half exasperated, but beginning to pick up on the panicky look in their faces. Ignoring me completely the group delves deeper into the delicate work, leaving floor showing that was disguised by burlap and turning plants not even caring for the attention to detail we had put into it.
"Hey! What's that over there?" yelled one of the guards, recoiling from a vignette in a way that spread an apprehensive hush through the fantasy jungle, with at least a dozen people frozen wondering what the hell was going on.
"Wait for me!! Ple-e-e-eze!" screamed the leopard leotard sprinting across the floor and practically diving into the foliage. "Got it!" she held the head of... "what was that?" I thought. "This is impossible." No, it was real! She held a huge reptilian head with both hands as if she had done it everyday. An amazingly long tongue darted in and out and we could have been on the set of an Indiana Jones sequel. The head was followed by foot after foot of gleaming scales sparkling in the uplighting. Eyes glowed red in the lighting effects. The twelve foot long Burmese Python, part of an animal show, had escaped when its unattended cage was bumped on the loading dock.
The videographer was smiling. "I got it all on tape! It'll make a great intro to the finished video."
Plant Service Testimonials
The Venue that became too real! A short narrative that describes the
event experience from our perspective with a twist.
Rainforest Plant Co.