By Charles T. Jackson
In the Summer of 2011, our Youth Theatre directors chose to do “Little Princess”. The theatre program was an extremely popular summer distraction for youths of two communities. As a result, the directors found themselves with 75+ participants. They challenged me in this show to make a set, that took up as little space as possible on the stage so they could easily fit all of these kids on stage. Always up for a challenge, I designed a set that used the back wall of the stage to represent the two rooms in the house most of the scenes were done, and used gobos for the rest.
For the “fancier” room of the mansion I painted a larger more ornate bookshelf, put up a huge landscape painting (I trash picked!!) and projected a chandelier. For the less fancy room, depicted a s a classroom in the same house, I painted a smaller plain bookshelf with a globe, changed the painting to Queen Elizabeth, and got rid of the gobo chandelier.
The scenes were extremely easy to change in that the 2′ x 4′ rolling dolly with the window flat on it just rolled across the stage to block the bookshelf of the scene not being done, and the painting just flipped over on a tie line hanger.
Of course there was some furniture involved, but that was minimized to save space.
I repurposed some benches that I had made for an earlier play, fancied them up a bit, and VIOLA we had not only places for lots of little kids to sit and act like they’re learning, but a place for them to be when they needed to be in levels.
While it’s a bit hard to see in this image, we handled the exterior scenes by just projecting a skyline gobo onto the main curtain. Once again, “building” for this show was minimal due to the space saving measures taken in the design, and well as the fact that all the sets used were right out of a saved collection previously built sets pieces that were just painted over to match the design of the show. What was added to the collection for this show was the chandelier gobo. It was placed in a light fixture that is kind of hard to reach, and stays safely stowed there to this date. It makes an occasional impromptu appearance when the lighting tech people aren’t paying attention. The scene painted on the wall remains there to this date as well, and actually appears in the next show on deck!! In my next post I’ll be revisiting foam core for the making of grave stones, and how I got a Fall production of Scrooge on the stage. Thanks for stopping by.