Bringing the little wooden boy to life…

Week 5 kicks off today and with it, fit-up for this term’s opera ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’ designed by Dick Bird. The design realisation workshops at the Guildhall School have been a hive of activity over the past few weeks and we aren’t finished yet as this week is sure to be even busier as we fit the set up in our Silk Street Theatre. The construction workshop and the scenic art paintshop have been changing every day, with new scenic components being made and more layers of paint being applied to make what I’m sure will be a very interesting and impressive set. Here’s just a snippet of what’s been going on in scenic art and construction…(click on the pictures for a closer look!)

The blue fairy’s houses are now completed; vac-formed bricks applied and painted, roofs tiled and chalky slate washes sponged on and trompe l’oeil (literally ‘trick of the eye’) effects added to the perspective windows. There are a lot of interesting processes involved in making and painting each of the houses and I think you’ll agree they look brilliant. One of the elements that I particularly like is the paint effect on the doors that Will made. Kim has been learning the process of creating a crackled paint effect using size, a heated glue that is applied after the base colour. A top layer of paint a different colour is added which is force-dried using a heat gun. This method means that the top layer of paint that dries quickly separates, causing a cracked effect. The process is a fairly organic one meaning that it is quite difficult to predict the result although you can control the cracking to some extent; dictating the direction of the cracks by what way you apply the glue and the top layer, and the general size of the crack by how thickly you apply the paint.

Another interesting component that has been made this week, again by Will is the circus frustum. This piece is made from a timber skeletal structure with MDF wrapped around it. In order to bend the MDF around the shape, the sheets were dampened, clamped in place and left overnight so that when dry they naturally sat in a curved shape. Kim has been working on the paint finish for the frustum, masking off triangles shapes around the curve and adding a dark spray to the edges of each segment to age the piece. It’s a work-in-progress with the yellow still to do but here it is so far…

Another scenic element that has been worked on last week was the Funland sign; a large metal curved sign with decorative elements and letters secured in place. In order to create the piece, lengths of steel were rolled into curved shapes of various radiuses and welded together.  Here is the sign taking shape…

As well as vac-formed bricks, we have used a lot of other vac-formed pieces in the set. The ticket booth and the puppet theatre are both quite complicated pieces, made up from a combination of mouldings, vac form elements and shortwood mouldings to add a highly decorative look to the pieces. Although they take a while to build, and paint, I think you’ll agree they look very impressive when complete. Katie has painted the ticket booth with a variety of scenic processes, including a light crackle effect and antique gold on the mouldings as well as some signwriting. The puppet theatre has a similar effect on it which has been started but will be finished this week.

Well that’s just a small snippet of what we’ve been up to and some of the interesting scenic components that we’ve been working on. Fit-up has started so I’ll be sure to get some photos of the set taking shape in the theatre. Also not forgetting the props team who have been working non-stop on all of the props for the production; including the puppets for the puppet theatre, various masks, Pinocchio’s hair and even a set of whale’s teeth just to name a few! More photos to follow of course, stay tuned…

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Categories: Design Realisation Project, Opera | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Bringing the little wooden boy to life…

  1. David Woods

    Reblogged this on Michael Woods – Theatre Technician and commented:
    More design realisation for Pinocchio … All departments pulling together to create a spectacular show.

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