So you’ve been volunteered to help with the annual school play and you’re role is that of stage designer. After reading this article and with a little help from me – Jamie Squillare and your fellow parents you’ll confidentially be able to create a stage set design that will be forever memorable!
As a set designer you’ll actually be responsible for getting the right mood for the performance, so you’ll need to set the scenes with the play in mind. You need to have an understanding of the script so that you can select the best stage design possible and organise any special effects. It’s a good idea to meet with all the other volunteers and assign tasks to share the workload in order to avoid getting too stressed! Remember that you’ll need help with lifting, unloading and assembling as well.
The key factors to getting your stage design just so are the dimensions of the stage itself, the lighting, movement and the reality of the play. Take each factor individually and make rough drawings so in your mind you know what you’re trying to achieve. For example a simply constructed archway can add dimension and the illusion of doors down a hallway, and false walls at a certain angle makes the stage feel bigger. Try not to get too creative as this will detract from your purpose.
Accent lighting adds depth and life to the stage. Use pendant lights, cabinet lighting and subtle dimmed lighting to create different moods during the play. Remember that different lighting will affect the colors on the set as blues tend to look almost black and reds go very pale. Rehearse lighting techniques to make sure it all goes well on the night.
Movement on the stage is easily created by the addition of blinds at an open window for instance, or the dimming of bright lights! Doors can be fitted and opened and closed to add a real life production quality. Set elements can easily be made out of painted card and are easy to move between stage changes.
As s top advice from me – Jamie Squillare I would share:
Save time by changing elements around rather than having to keep moving them off the stage.
Make the scenes authentic by researching the play and using the appropriate props. Take a simple example such as the nativity and you’d automatically know what extras you’d need to set the scene! Do this for each scene of your play and use the school resources department to help you with all the materials you need to create the perfect settings. Make all your props directly relevant to the play and discuss how they’ll be used in case they need to be very robust.
Preparation and planning will be essential to be ready on the night. Establish a schedule with deadlines for everything and stick to it. You don’t need to be an expert but with the right research and a lot of hard work you’ll know that you did everything you could to make your stage set design the best it could possibly be with the resources and the time you had.