Merry Christmas!

A Christmas Show in May? Only in Opera! Our students have been keeping cool during the recent heat wave by working on the latest Opera Double Bill; “The Long Christmas Dinner” and “A Dinner Engagement”. This 2-in-one show features a large Victorian kitchen, which comes with a whole host of challenges for out students to get their teeth into.

Its easy to think that the whole show revolves around the set, and in this case, you’d be almost right (sort of…). The design included a central revolve, which gave our students an opportunity to get a more rounded experience of Construction.

The first step was to create a frame that would fit around the mechanism and act as a solid platform for the actors to perform on, whilst still allowing the set to move. Once this had all been assembled and surrounded by steel deck to create a complete stage area, planks of wood (painted and textured by the scenic art team) were nailed down on top. Finally, when everything was in place, and the centre of the circle had been found, the Construction team created a jig so a perfect circle could be cut into the floor. We only had one shot, and thankfully, all the measuring and double checking paid off, giving us own little merry-go-round!


Ever wondered how to make a circular frame out of wood?




Are we doing Opera or Wizard of Oz?


Taking a more circular route

Meanwhile, in Props, the students have been doing a bit of construction of their own. After all, how are you supposed to have loads of food if there’s nothing to cook it in?


Spike’s been addressing the lack of storage…


While Libby’s been going into aga-nising detail on her oven

And finally, Scenic Art have been brushing up on their Spray painting skills, using the airline to add layers of light washes to the flats to get that authentic, slightly grubby look. A similar wash was added to the various cupboards, cabinets and fittings along with a crackle glaze, to again create a certain ‘homely’ feel.


Might be a bit of a height problem…


Solved it!


A View From The (Paint) Bridge

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Truly Model Students

At the end of their second term, the First years are all given a chance to work individually and create their own set designs based on a selection of different plays. As you can see, each student really took to the idea and ran with it, creating a series of fantastic Model Boxes depicting a whole variety of potential shows at a 1:25 scale. Its just a shame we can’t make them in real life!

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Time and the Conways- J.B. Priestley

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Dear Brutus- J.M Barrie

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Long Time Dead- Rona Munro

Tabitha Streater. Dancing in Lughnasa (Brian Friel)

Dancing in Lughnasa- Brian Friel

Pippa Higham. Further than the Furthest thing (Zinnie Harris)

Further than the Furthest Thing- Zinnie Harris

Aster Meerding. Blue Remembered Hills (Dennis Potter)

Blue Remembered Hills- Dennis Potter


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Trailer for Blackout event

Exciting trailer is out for Blackout, the Video Design for Live Performance BA event happening inside Tower Bridge bascule chamber next week – with Immersive installations by Design Realisation..!

Tickets selling fast don’t delay!!!




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Design Realisations students have recently been assisting Video Design for Live Performance BA to create an new an exciting Immerisive Video projection and sound installation which takes place inside London’s iconic Tower Bridge!

Running from 23rd -25th March 2018. Check out the event page here: Blackout

DR students have been working with the VDLP who are revisiting this stunning hidden space for the second year.  DR have been creating props & scenic installations to assist the realisation of the Immersive Design which compliments the Video installations created by VDLP.  The thematic design is based on the Blitz photography of City of London Police Officers Arthur Cross and Fred Tibbs and recreates an World War 2 shelter like environment within the interior chambers beneath the south tower of Tower Bridge.

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Have a listen to this podcast discussing the event and please do come along, tickets are still available and as well as experiencing a mind blowing immersive video and sound installation you also get the rare opportunity to visit a hidden subterranean space in a world famous monument!

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Are the cracks starting to show?

Of course not!

Who’d have thought it was February already? The last month has flown by, as our students have been getting to grips with the Rep shows ‘Saved’ and ‘Colder than Here’ in the Studio Theatre, along with ‘Memory of Water’ on the Milton Court Main Stage.

Despite these shows being described as ‘no builds’, there’s certainly been a lot of work going into each production. The studio theatre has been transformed into a set which can be easily changed for each of the 2 shows, since just using the same set twice would be far too simple. Both sets feature a large crack in the signature Guildhall concrete, created using a router for the crack, and layers of Idenden mixed with Filite to create a suitably grungy texture on the floor itself.


Turns out the best route to take for the floor was… well… the router.


The painters are doing a cracking job!


Layers of washes and splatters were added to correctly match the walls.


‘Colder Than Here’ also has a series of copper pipes running up the back wall. This gave our construction students a chance to practice bending and soldering metal, and the scenic artists an opportunity to paint a bit of corrosion. These pipes were then attached to a wire grid, so they could be easily removed every time the theatre switched shows.


The construction students have been soldering on to get the pipes finished.

Each show was also given one ‘big’ prop, allowing the students to create an interesting mix of a Bed, a Boat and a Coffin. While the bed meant they could brush up on their flat-pack skills, the other two proved a bit more challenging.

The S.S Bethan was made by cutting out wooden ribs that Artex could be attached to, keeping the piece strong yet lightweight, so the actors could sit in it. As the finish needed to be like fibre glass, there was quite a bit of filling and sanding to do once the screws had been removed. However, the effort was definitely worth it once the paint was added, as the final piece wouldn’t have looked out of place floating down the Thames. (Though, admittedly, it would probably sink. Maybe something to try on Lakeside at the end of term!)


Not quite watertight yet!


For the hull, a sheet of Airex was bent over the frame and glued into place with a bit of P40


Everything’s going plain sailing

The cardboard coffin was somewhat simpler, but needed to look like it was painted by the decidedly uncreative characters within the play. This initially meant the surface looked like it was covered in clouds that looked like they had been painted by a toddler… Luckily, the designer decided then that it would be nicer to just let our students show off their own painting skills, and went for a nice tribute to Van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night’ instead.


I think there might be an illness going around… there’s certainly a lot of coffin.










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All Taiwan for Christmas is you…

he end of term is almost here, but before we could let the Students go off and put themselves in a mince pie and mulled wine induced coma, they had one final thing to do. The first years have been hard at work over the last couple of weeks on their group DRP (Design Realisation Project), where they get a chance to show off all the skills they’ve learnt over their first term at Guildhall. The challenge this year was to make a replica of the Taiwanese ‘Guandu Temple Ancient Buddha Pit’, to be displayed in our very own paint shop.


Artex and various grey washes were used to make the lovely stone texture for the walls.


Grace took the opportunity to experiment with plasterzote to make the dragons, after a visiting Lecturer came in and explained the process used to make fantastic sculptures and costumes.


Pippa having a quick rest inside the roof before it was lifted up onto the pillars.


It might look like Andy is toasting something tasty, but it’s actually the best way to heat up Airex for the roof tiles so they can be pressed into the right shape.


Freshly toasted tiles.

After a final flurry of painting and touch ups, the finished temple was ready to be open to the public, who were lured in by the scent of incense, and the odd poster. (though mainly the incense- Moorgate has never smelled so good!)



The two dragons stand guard in front of some lovely trompe l’oeil


The roof used a mix of Polycarving, Jesmonite casting, careful painting, and stencilling to recreate the complicated design.




The best views are on the inside!





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Post ‘Post Mortem’ Post

It was a greater mystery than ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ (with slightly less death), but the secret of the Post Mortem set can finally be revealed! The Construction crew managed to make a huge cone-like structure out of steel and stretched shark-tooth gauze, which created a tunnel that could be projected onto from the outside. Certainly something quite different to the usual stage flats, and extremely effective in creating the right atmosphere for Noel Coward’s dark Drama.


Marcus’ Mercury statue takes centre stage (definitely the real star of the show)


Projecting at its best!


The Full cone, in all it’s glory.

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Post Mortem Mystery and Opera Scenes

It’s a bit early for Christmas shows, but it does seem appropriate that we’re rounding off this term with a play by someone called Noël…

The big drama production of this term is the Coward Play ‘Post Mortem’, a show that is rarely put on stage, so it’s nice that we’re giving it a bit of a revival here at Guildhall. We’ve pulled out all the stops on this one, and the staging is probably one of the most elaborate designs we’ve seen in a while… though unfortunately it’ll have to remain a bit of a mystery until the grand unveiling on opening night!


What on earth could all these frames be for?


I think I’m starting to ‘C’ what’s going on here…


You could say this project has had a bit of a learning curve, but Spike’s going to be a pretty good welder by the end!

The Construction team have been busy making large steel curves using our metal bending machine, then welding them together with A MIG welder to create large support structures for… well, you’ll have to come and watch the show to see! Needless to say, the usual flats that make up our normal sets are nowhere to be seen!


A unique way to keep the carpet clean… or a workshop version of ‘The Floor is Lava’


The scale of this show nearly pulled the rug out from under our feet, but it’s nothing our students can’t handle!

If you thought the distinct lack of flats or back cloth would leave our Scenic artists with nothing to do, you were very wrong; they were given “1930”,  an Art Deco carpet by Sonia Delaunay to replicate on a much larger scale. They had to do a lot of testers to see what would colour the carpet best, but in the end, good old Rosco and Covent garden Primer did the trick!


Probably could have made an actual floor with a team like this!


Looking Parquet Okay!

And finally, many a long evening has been spent creating the herringbone parquet floor for the upcoming Opera Scenes. In order to create the ‘Community Centre’ effect, our students marked out gridlines and used stencils to paint the basic pattern. They then glazed and wood grained each brick, and added multiple layers of different washes to bring it all together. It looks so good, lets hope it doesn’t distract the audience and act as a bit of a red herring (bone)!


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From CAD to Realisation and back

Here’s a little teaser of some things we’ve been working on lately.

We’ve been experimenting with 3D scanning and photogammetry.  This technology re-instates the materials based practical skills of craftspeeple back into the CAD, VR and CGI pipeline.

Big things are happening with us and this tech and I’ll be putting more stuff up in the coming months but for now, here’s a little example of a basic room scan of some scenery…

Step inside the set for our recent opera ‘The Consul’.  This section of the set is the kitchen, the furniture which was created by students in Props, the walls and tiles were made grotty by the Scenic painters.  A great example the broken down look.

Click on the model and go for a look around inside the set!

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Consul-idating our work…

This is a bit of a late up date, but that just shows how busy its been over the last few weeks! The Cherry Orchard has just started it’s run, The Consul is nearly ready to go, and Crimp 1,2,3 & 4 are a mere spiral staircase filled memory.


Stairway to… probably the skip by now.

The set for the famous Chekov play featured a number of interesting things made by the students, such as some telegraph poles made of steel and wood, then textured with idenden to look like a slightly different type of wood (Aah, the magic of theatre). However the Cherry on top was definitely the floor, which really gave the scenic art students a chance to show off their skills.


As you’d expect, these poles were pretty tall, so needed to be reinforced with a steel frame. Forms were then cut out of Plywood on the C&C machine, and clad using timber and more plywood. The scenic artists then added a 3D wood grain before painting using Idenden, just give it that extra bit of texture.


Hours of careful tracing and mapping out the repeating patterns went into the floor, and it really paid off!

Meanwhile, over in Props, the students were getting a slight sinking feeling… Their job was to create all the appliances needed in a small kitchen- everything from the basin, the cupboards to the small oven and hob. This gave them an opportunity to do a bit of 3D printing for the various buttons and logos each piece needed, and also a chance to try some new techniques using dirty down spray.


The Jesmonite needed a bit of a clean up after coming out of the mould, but nothing some sanding and a chisel couldn’t fix.


The sink was originally made of MDF, then a mould was made out of Plaster. Layers of Jesmonite and Quadaxial Stitched (Quad) Glass were then used to cast out the original shape, with a metal frame inside for added reinforcement.


Um… is Anna Ok?


Going through props at the moment feels like a trip to Ikea…

The painters also got a chance to do lots of dirtying down- suffice to say, the set looks wonderfully disgusting. Meanwhile, Construction were busy making a rotating stage for the set to sit on- the rooms for the kitchen, office and hallway all sit on the same base, which can be turned for smooth transitions between scenes.


A ‘H’ frame of Steel deck was bolted together and given casters so it could roll around the stage. The holes were then filled with wooden frames to keep it as light as possible and then the whole thing had to be flipped and attached to a rotation point. (We wanted it to move, but not too freely!)


I takes a lot of work to make wallpaper look this bad (a good 3 or 4 washes in fact!)


.I just hope they didn’t get too much inspiration for the mould from their student kitchens…



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