Season: 2013

Makin' a Scene: Wrapping up Two Trains Running

Posted on Jan 17th, 2013 in Artists & Company
set image

Making a new diner look old

Welcome to the Scenic Art Blog for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival! Here is where you'll see what a day in the life is like for us “behind the scenes” folks. We are busy building and painting all of the elements you'll find on stage for the 2013 season.

Things have been super busy around the shop this week as we finish up Two Trains Running and plow headlong into My Fair Lady.

After a set is completed in the shop, we take all of the pieces over to the theater and put them in place so we can see what it will look like all together. Then, we add intense details and touch up any scuffs. The design for Two Trains is highly realistic, so we had lots of fun making this restaurant look like it would serve a hard working night shifter a strong cup of coffee. We had to make all of the pieces look well used, so we beat on things with hammers and chisels and screwdrivers and pretty much anything we could get our hands on. The metal needed dents, the doorways needed to look bumped into, the front of the counter had to look like people had been sitting at it for many years. We even put paint on our shoes and kicked the set to make fake scuff marks!

Upstage of the restaurant through the windows you can see a dilapidated street. So much work went into each and every element up there. Each sign you see was handpainted and aged. It was sort of funny to paint these beautiful Coke signs and then scrape off some of the paint, and dirty down the bright colors. The sidewalk and street were not only painted to look like cement and asphalt, but real (and fake) plants were glued and stapled in each crack. A window was cut to look broken. All of the bricks you see on stage are made of a thick paperboard that is molded to look like bricks. The paint department used a roofing product called “jacksan” to texture them and then painted each brick to look worn down and forgotten.

All in all, it has come together very well. I love walking the street upstage and seeing all of the old signs and storefronts. The diner is so realistic, we caught our lead scenic, Thayne Abraham eating his lunch at the counter!

For more photos and information visit Sandy's blog

What do you think?

Add your comments to the conversation below.


  • Jim,
    I believe each set designer has their own style of doing things. Though, these days less people are doing hand drafting because it is so time intensive. However, the set designer for Two Trains Running, Vicki Smith, has drawn out absolutely beautiful paint elevations and renderings, which are the pictures that show specific walls and their treatments- these are usually what we use to paint from. I wish I could post a few pictures of those, but they are her personal artistic property. Suffice it to say, I was very impressed with what she gave us, and clearly, it has yielded a beautiful set.
    Sandy PhillipsJan 28th, 2013 3:56 pm
  • Deborah,
    Thanks for stopping by to check us out! We did have a lot of fun beating up the set. Our Lead Scenic, Pat Bonney calls it "method painting." It's just like method acting, only for painting. We make up a story in our heads and carry out the distressing just so. For example, for the distressing around the doorframes, we imagined that someone was carrying a food tray and kept running into the same place over and over again, or that we were the movers who brought in the booth seats and were too careless not to ding the door. It's kind of fun to get in character! Sorry you will be missing the show, but we have so many good ones lined up, you won't be disappointed.
    Sandy PhillipsJan 28th, 2013 7:32 am


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