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Set Design with Chris Rovers Agenda Intended Audience About Set Design / Terminology Reading a Script with an Eye to Sets Set Design Plus Plus Set Design.

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Presentation on theme: "Set Design with Chris Rovers Agenda Intended Audience About Set Design / Terminology Reading a Script with an Eye to Sets Set Design Plus Plus Set Design."— Presentation transcript:

1 Set Design with Chris Rovers Agenda Intended Audience About Set Design / Terminology Reading a Script with an Eye to Sets Set Design Plus Plus Set Design – A Balancing Act Set Design with 3D Modeling Example Designs

2 Intended Audience Aimed primarily at low-budget community theatre People interested in doing Set Design Directors, Stage Managers and actors Build crew Anybody else interested...

3 About Set Design A Set Designer is part of the Artistic Staff of the production May also be the tech director, lighting director or other role – but may not be A collaborative effort – working to make a concrete design from the director's vision and adding vision of your own Must work with the costume designer, prop designer, lighting designer, etc to create a stage vision that works

4 Terminology Types of stages : Proscenium, Arena (theatre-in-the-round), alley, thrust Parts of a set : Flats, drapes, flies, risers, platforms Positions : Director, Stage Manager, Designers, Technical Director, Props Master, Stagehands, Cast, etc

5 Parts of a Set

6 Script Reading Script reading is different as a set designer – you need to be very focused on the physical Make careful notes of everything the characters touch, open, cross, look at, etc Don't forget the emotional impacts, too – sets can highlight or contrast with the action

7 Example Script Section From Moonchildren, by Michael Weller Dick enters and shuts the door. Silence. Seconds later the stage is light again, this time from an icebox that Dick opened, which has an automatic light inside … The kitchen can be dimly seen now. The icebox is ancient; a box on legs with a barrel-shape cooler on top. On the door, perhaps not yet visible, is written GOD IS COOL. Hundreds of empty two quart milk bottles line the walls, layer on layer with planks in between each level... The floor is imitation cork vinyl tiles, alternating light and dark, … but the floor is only half finished... The kitchen table is round and set about with six unmatched chairs. Clutter. Posters. A map of Europe on one wall...

8 Read the script with a notepad, making clear notes about entrances, exits, furniture, levels – everything explicit in the script These notes are starting points, but the idea is to prevent yourself from being blindsided later – err on the side of noting something Consider the emotional impact of scenes and consider whether there's something scenic that could add Consider the overall theme of the play

9 Set Design ++ Sets can be simple or complicated – there's nothing wrong with a basic black set, but choosing one should be a choice Consider adding levels – they can create intimacies or create excitement and movement Consider thrust, arena or alley stages Consider using audience areas for part of the play Be willing to be audacious in design at this point! There is time to tone back later

10 Take these notes and add to them what you know of the director's vision / the production's theme Consider the theatre you will be doing this in – and get dimensions for the stage! Sketch rough designs for key scenes – I almost always include Act One, Scene One, but also any other critical moments Take these sketches and your notes to the Artistic/Design meeting, which should take place early in a production's lifecycle, well before auditions Consider multiple versions – a thrust version vs a proscenium, for instance

11 The Balancing Act The artistic/design meeting should include the director and as many designers as possible Having sketches and designs early (and not being attached to them) makes it easier for directors to figure out what they want and express it – blank slates can be difficult, but modifying an idea is easier Remember your colours need to play nice with costumes and lights You need to work with props to figure out which physical things will be owned by who Remember, you are there to bring the director's vision to life. Your ideas are important, but not the be-all and end-all!

12 Be Flexible and Communicate Remember, the director will almost certainly have different/more/fewer entrances and exits than are written in the script Get the Stage Manager a copy of the set diagram ASAP Keep in touch with the Stage Manager to find out any blocking issues

13 More Balancing Not only is there vision to balance, but there is reality to worry about too Consider budget, safety and technical feasibility before settling on a design Difficult isn't reason enough to reject a design – be willing to be challenging and challenged, but safety is reason enough to change directions

14 Safety Balancing Just because sets are temporary, doesn't mean they can be unsafe – consider strength and stability of things Steps within a stairway should always be the same height Where possible, steps should have handrails (especially backstage) Be very aware of safety when hanging things (good rule of the thumb – 10x as strong as it needs to be) Make sure backstage will be safe with your design

15 Technical Feasibility If you aren't the one building it, make sure you consult with the one who is before finalizing a design When designing, try to consider how something could be built – it doesn't have to be the way it will be built, but it is nice to have an answer if someone asks With ambitious designs, consider a second opinion – use your resources

16 Budget Balancing Make the most out of existing resources – theatres tend to have prebuilt flats, platforms and risers in set sizes – strongly consider using those sizes where possible Know what other hardware is available to you without buying Start looking for borrowed furniture / etc early, but be aware of what abuse it might take Leverage second hand stores / the ReStore extensively Don't forget taxes and extras when budgeting – ideally save 10% of the budget for unexpected surprises

17 Balancing - Conclusion Your job is to come up with a design that is safe, in budget and buildable, that also fulfills the director's vision, works with the lighting, set, props, stage movement and costume design, as well as includes your own creativity Sounds a tall order, but mostly amounts to common sense and communication – lots of talking, with everyone!

18 Set Design with 3D Modeling Not all of us are gifted artists, so we can leverage technology to help us get our ideas across Can export as images to use as floor plans (use the top-down camera + dimensions) Can create libraries of commonly used components (flats, etc) Google Sketchup – free, good, easy to use, with good tutorials

19 Examples These are some examples of sets I've done for KWLT and TenBareToes I've tried to pick out some sets that are as different from each other as possible

20 The Penelopiad, By Margaret Atwood, Directed by Janelle Mifflin, KWLT 2010

21 Three Musketeers by Willis Hall, Directed By Anita Kilgour, KWLT 2007

22 The Lion In Winter by James Goldman, directed by Douglas Morton, KWLT 2005

23 Moonchildren by Michael Weller, Directed by Andrea Kerswell, KWLT 2006

24 Moonchildren by Michael Weller, Directed by Andrea Kerswell, KWLT 2006 (actual photo)

25 The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, Directed by Angela Yeates, KWLT 2008

26 Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, Directed by Anita Kilgour, TenBareToes 2010

27 Resources Books : The Handbook of Set Design by Colin Winslow Technical Theatre for Non-Technical People by Drew Campbell (sounds like for non-techies, but unless you've got a theatre degree, you'll learn something) Programs : Google Sketchup - My Sketchup Files : me - Mailing Lists : Stagecraft -

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