Observation Participation: Scenic Design

skype-classroomA scenic design class requires hands on assistance with concepts, floor plans, measurements and the overall execution of assignments. My class is different. The professor comes to the classroom only a few times in the semester and the rest is done over Skype. Scholars in my class are often distracted, confused, bored and don’t take it seriously because out professor isn’t present with us.

Last class was a “work day” to get as much of the floor plan and height plot as possible done. This class consists of seven people, and when one gets distracted, we all do. Erik Neuvel was the only one who managed to stay on task. Izzy Struss and Michael Collett played “nipple-saurus rex” for a solid twenty minutes of the class. Sara Kazmier stays quiet and waits patiently for the three-sided ruler to come back to her. Jaclyn Drummond often exchanged annoyed looks with others in the class. She wasn’t annoyed with her fellow scholars and our shenanigans. Drummond seemed to be more frustrated with the repetitiveness of the class. Professor Lori Worthman would explain herself over and over again for Collett who had been absent the previous class period. Worthman, because she is on Skype, doesn’t get the virtue of having one on one time with a confused or behind student. She must address the whole class which takes away from our work time and how much we actually learn in a class period. When there are technical difficulties, videos on set design and perspective will be linked to us. These are also hard to pay attention to, but are easier to follow. She has to show us what she is doing over a blurry camera and it’s often hard to see and follow. Irritation and distraction are common.

How to Draw In Two-Point Perspective

I find myself irritated with this class a lot and I have no motivation for it. Having a professor talk at you for two hours over Skype isn’t the most productive thing. I recognize the bias and try not to let it distract me from what I’m learning in the class and the kind of professor Worthman is. She’s a good professor and she knows what she’s doing. It’s extraordinarily difficult to focus or function like we usually would if she were in the room with us. I prefer it when she is in the room with us. Asking questions, focusing and actually getting something accomplished becomes much easier and distractions get minimized.

What an unfinished floor plan looks like.
What an unfinished floor plan looks like.

 

 

 

First Blog Post

As a theatrical design major, it is highly important that I understand all aspects of design. Even though my emphasis is in costume and makeup design, I still need to know everything else from sound design to set design, and even graphic design. I get my costuming hours in through the shows we produce here at The Fort, but I am currently in a scenic design class and I didn’t know how hard it would be.

Fountain Of Youth, Jason Sherwood, Set & Production Designer

Every show has a set designer. It doesn’t matter how minimalistic or extravagant it’s going to end up being; a set designer is crucial to have. Before anything can start getting built, the designer has to come up with multiple sketches, models and schematics to make sure everything is done within the concept and done correctly. Every designer has a different way of coming up with concepts. Some do collages, rough sketches, free association writing (which is word vomit), verbal explanations or sometimes they just and contemplate. A concept is important so the designer can figure out and understand what direction they want to take the show. Concepts take in to account visual metaphors, colors, character personality, story, time period…it’s what the designer sees for the show.

Genoa’s Collage for Harry and Clair

After a concept has been made an approved by the director and all other designers in the show, it’s time for sketching. More than one sketch usually occurs during this process because ideas and practicality change and become more apparent. These rough sketches are done from the audiences perspective and are not usually very neat. It’s these that are brought to the production meeting to help everyone visualize what’s going to happen.

After this has been done, the designer will draw something called a floor plan. The floor plan is from the top view and gives measurements of widths. If there’s a four foot wide and three foot deep platform, it would be included in this sketch. Floor plans are important to make sure everything can fit on the stage.

Set design for Prima Donna, design and tech theatre.
Set design for Prima Donna, design and tech theatre.

 

The final few steps of the process are measured and neat audience view drawing, a to-scale model of the set and a final, colored, pretty audience view drawing. From there, the pieces of the set can be built and put together to make something absolutely lovely.

Music Academy of the West – Granada Theatre, CA Directed by David Paul Set Design by Sandra Goldmark
Music Academy of the West – Granada Theatre, CA Directed by David Paul Set Design by Sandra Goldmark
Into the Woods-set designer unknown
Into the Woods-set designer unknown

 

It’s almost impossible to sum up in just a short blog how many obstacles there are and how much time designing a set for a show takes. There’s what kind of space your in, what’s the show about, does everyone’s concept match, what’s the budget, how many scene changes are there? Designing a set is no easy task, and in my scenic design class this semester, I’m learning that the hard way.