BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Jessica Kaplan and Shayne Izatt are partners in work and in life. The two met while working at Manhattan Theater Club and went on to found Sightline Fabrication together in 2007.
They design sets and create set pieces for Off-Broadway shows and different schools around the city, all out of their 5,000 square foot scene shop, located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Jessica says there were times they had to turn away work, on account of being so busy.
“Now, we’ve had nothing, we really have had no work since February,” said the Kaplan, a co-owner.
It’s been a struggle to cover their roughly $12,000 monthly operating costs, which they’ve continued to pay through the entire pandemic, having to dip into their savings substantially.
“So we basically have not paid ourselves since the beginning of March. And we got a little bit of unemployment in the very beginning, but because we don't actually qualify for real unemployment, it was that federal unemployment assistance,” said Kaplan.
They’ve been actively searching for work, but with the theater industry shut down, projects are virtually non-existent. They’re calling on more support and coverage from the government.
“When you go see a play, I don't know if they know that there's other businesses that are, that need those theaters to be open in order to get all their work. I just don’t know that anyone knows that we even exist, like prop shops and costume shops and set shops, which is what we do,” Kaplan said.
“With the Bill [Save Our Stages] for the venues being involved in the next stimulus, you know, the venues being covered doesn’t necessarily cover the backstage aspects of the industry, it’s just more about that bring that to light," Izatt, the other co-owner said.
In July, they were contracted out by another Brooklyn shop Daedalus Design and Production to cut bands for PPE face shields.
“We were thankful that we had the job, that we can get a paycheck to our employees that we could, and also pay for another month of rent here,” said Izatt.
And most recently the pair has pivoted to custom art pieces and furniture projects, which you can check out here. It doesn’t make a dent in their nearly $9,000 rent, but it’s something.
“It’s definitely only a stop gap and only covers a percentage of what we’d need on a monthly basis. We're trying to find something to help carry us through until theater reopens.
Until then, they’re hoping to keep Sightline, in everyone’s line of sight.