Making a set look like it isn't one
This week the shops have been busy working on My Fair Lady. As the electricians focus the lights, the carpenters put their last welds on the railings and the props artisans hang the last crystals on the chandelier, we painters have been working on an intricate frosted window for the pub. There are so many cool prop pieces in this set, including an antique dentist's chair made of beautiful wrought iron work and leather, all made by our Annette Julien in the prop shop. There is also a gorgeous wooden dental cabinet built by Peter Erickson, also of props. And there's the aluminum marquee sign upstage announcing the play, My Fair Lady.
The concept behind the set is transparency...so the audience sees the transformation of the theater space into a set and the actors into characters. In keeping with that, many of the mechanics of the set are revealed. The back wall is in sight. The actors never leave stage, but sit upstage in antique theater seats where they change minor exterior elements of their costumes to become other people.
The funny part is that we had to paint the set to look like it wasn't a set. We painted plywood to look like medite and purposely spilled and smeared paint on the wood floor to give it a rehearsal hall kind of look. I think it's an interesting design that shows the many layers of what goes into a theater space. By taking some layers away and revealing the bare bones, the audience becomes aware of what is and is not there- something we viewers don't usually think about when we see a show. It gives this story of trasformation and layers of personality and character a fresh flavor.
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