So, I have finally found a moment to fill you in on what we’ve been up to so far this term in Design Realisation. We have just finished the sets for our three opening productions of the term and we are now embarking on the fourth and it’s only October!
The first show to go up was our autumn drama, ‘August.’ The set was designed by Libby Watson and performed in our Milton Court studio theatre. As this was a no build show there were only elements of scenic art and props to make.
The perimeter of the stage was draped in heavy brown curtains with a blackened gradient towards the bottom. The effect was produced by spraying a black wash along the bottom of the curtains and fading it up towards the top.
Below our 2nd year scenic artist Libby creates the gradient on one of the curtains in the paint shop.
Scenic art also undertook the task of painting the floor cloth, which was designed as an abstract watery mix of earthy colours.
The process began with a yellow ochre wash and then washes of the other colours were applied to the damp base and blended in to give a smudgy appearance to the painting. More defined lines and details were added in over the top once the bottom layers had dried.
In props our 2nd year student Alex had the task of creating 12 breakable plaster vases which would be shot to pieces during the play. (All very dramatic!)
Above: Alex and Props Lecturer Pat going through the process of moulding the vases.
The process was a tricky one as the vases had to have fairly thin plaster walls in order for them to break effectively on stage. It was difficult to get the walls of the vase to the correct thickness, many of then turning out to be too thin and in need of filling/ reinforcing.
Once the vases were cast they were cleaned up and painted to give a handmade rustic effect before being glazed.
Simultaneously our DR students were working on realising Amelia Jane Hankins’ designs for The Crucible. Set in our Milton Court theatre,the design consisted of a woodland, created by twisted ropes partially concealed by a wall of uniformed sawn timber which continued onto the floor.Above: model box of Crucible design
Due to the colour of the wood in Amelia’s design, our scenic artists had to apply pale brown and green washes to the sawn timber planks, this enhanced the grain and helped to create a uniformed hue over all the pieces of timber.
In props our students were also kept busy making bespoke benches for the set which had a very satisfying, chunky quality and aesthetically matched the uniformed and clean design of the set.
To complete the trilogy of productions so far this term, we have just put up the finishing touches on the set for our double opera Iolanta/Mavra designed by Bridget Kimak.
Our construction team led by our third year student Bryan, had the task of building the set walls from timber frames and tri-wall cladding. The tri-wall was key to the design as it was important for light to be able to shine through the walls.
In scenic art our students led by our third year Lana painted the walls in a translucent green blend of colours.
This was effective in giving the walls an almost mouldy feel to them and the light bleeding through the paint also helped to enhance this effect.
The opera double has been a very prop heavy production and our props department led by Constance has done an amazing job at producing some very weird and wonderful prop makes.
The plate stack which was a feature of the room was a great success. It was made up from a selection of plastic plates, cutlery and takeaway boxes which had been drilled through and slotted onto one of three metal poles. These poles had been welded onto steel plates and mounted onto an MDF base to create a freestanding piece.
The side walls for Iolanta consists of an intricate layering of steel mesh, pipes and cord to create the look of a mechanical sound wall. This was created by attaching sections of steel mesh to a custom, welded frame and layering a collection of painted PVC tubing over the top to create a random crosshatching of pipes and metal. Thick black and red cord was fastened to the mesh and piping to give the appearance of electrical cables.
Following this Alex made a selection of vacuum form speakers; these were made in sections and in various shapes and sizes and then assembled to create the finished shapes. The forms were then spray painted and attached to the frame using cable ties.
Next came the mound of clothes! As part of Bridgets design the props department had to create a giant mound of clothing. This was created from several sets of treads, made in construction, which were then covered with layers of blue foam to disguise the hard edges and corners and then wrapped in canvas. The canvas was then painted in a patches of random colour before the many items of clothing (I think we emptied all the charity shops in East London) were splayed out and glued over the top of the canvas.
The result was a fantastically messy assortment of colour! (My OCD urge to tidy became very difficult to control at this stage!)
…and Constance was crowned Queen of the mound!
…spot the students?!..
We are now well in to rehearsals on the opera and the workshops are preparing all they need to begin the build of our Great Expectation set. Which, from the rumours, will give me some great ‘bloggable’ material!