Last show of the spring term…

Apologies for my lack of blogging recently but it’s been so busy here in the design realisation workshops that there’s hardly been a chance to stop and re-group! The good news is that because so much has been going on, there are loads of things to show you.

We’ve been hard at work on tour last drama of the term ‘The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other’ which opens soon in our Silk Street Theatre as well as Opera Scenes in our Milton Court Studio so it’s been non-stop down here.  Here’s what we’ve been up to…

The set for ‘The Hour…’, which is designed by Agnes Treplin (who also designed our production of Blood Wedding among other things!) consists of groups of flattage spread around the stage is clusters of abstract shapes and a large sloped platform that reaches onto the stage.  The whole of the theatre is transformed into acting space with seating blocks spread around the main stage area.  The paint effect, a concrete grey with a textured look is present all over; creating a vast expanse of shapes and edges that seem to make our already large theatre…even bigger.

The flats themselves are all made from timber frames with canvas stretched over them.  This fairly traditional process means that the flats are light and strong and the surface is completely smooth to paint on.  This is a good technique to use when making large flats as there are no sheet joins to contend with- a lot of opera flattage and panto flats are traditionally made this way.  The construction team had to master the art of canvassing; stretching and pulling the canvas into seemless surfaces without wrinkles or bagging.  As you can see they certainly got the hang of it and it’s a good thing too because there were a lot of them to make and only three student in the department.

The scenic art team painted nearly three paintframes worth of flattage and between the two departments a production line system was set in place; timber frames being made by one team, passed onto a team to canvass and then onto the paint frame for painting.  The concrete paint effect was created by layering up different shades of grey paint.  First the canvasses were primed with a mixture of watered down white emulsion to stretch and seal the canvass.  Then, a base colour of grey was applied followed by different shades of grey using ‘bobbly’ rollers; made in-house by picking holes out of foam rollers to create a textured finish.  The final stage in the process was a spray of grey over the entire surface which blended all of the layers together and added depth to the flats.  The same paint finish was applied to the entire acting space in the studio over two nights of paintcall sessions.  I will get some photos of the set and the painted floor in the theatre next week during the technical rehearsals but for now here are some photos of the flats being made and painted.

The props team have been equally busy with a long props list so obscure that looks like there’s been some kind of explosion in The Old Curiosity Shop!  Some of the makes include a baby’s crib that has to be worn on someone’s head, a burnt Arsenal flag, a mummy in an egyptian funeral barge, a maze, a stained glass window, a broken statue…and…so much more! Here are some photos of the props team hard at work…

One of the large prop makes, the barge and mummy, is being jointly made by the props team and the scenic construction team; props are making the mummy and construction are making the barge.  The funeral barge wheels across the stage so the boat has a three large wheels hidden underneath the large curved keel.  Here is the barge in it’s very early stages…

Come back next week for some more pictures as we finish work on ‘The Hour…’.  I’ll be sure to get some photos of the barge being built and painted, the finishing touches on the props and hopefully some shots of the finished set and painted floor in the Silk Street Theatre.

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