Fit Up On The Roof

e Constructioooon! Construction!e

That’s right, this year’s Musical is “Fiddler On The Roof”, and the students have really been Russian around getting everything done! There’s been houses to build, shops to make and even a moon to paint. The main part of the set, however, is a ramp big enough for a cart to be wheeled around on (but sadly not big enough for two, so no racing down the hill for us!)

The ramp was made in sections in the construction workshop, then carried through and fully assembled on stage. This took a lot of delicate manoeuvring slightly less delicate clambering around inside to screw the whole thing together, before cutting the edges to make a nice, smooth curve. The students then cut notches into long pieces of timber to create a kick-rail that could follow the edges perfectly and prevent the cart and/ or actors from accidentally falling off.

Once this was all in position, it was time to start laying the floorboards. Although most of it was pretty straightforward, the design features a ‘fan’ of boards at the front of the stage, which required precise measuring and cutting to get the angles on each board correct. It was then a bit like assembling a very complicated jigsaw to get each piece in the right place, with many of the pieces needing further trimming to get the perfect fit.


Things are really starting to ramp up in construction…


Got to make sure health and safety doesn’t go downhill.


Don’t Feed the Animals!


Whoever said you couldn’t bend solid wood?


The students were nearly floored by this particular puzzle.

Meanwhile, in over in Scenic art, The students have been using endless tubs of Idenden to texture all the floor boards, walls and even the odd bit of ceiling. Each piece required several layers of paint and washes in order to achieve that authentic ‘Rustic Russian’ look.

They also got to practice their canvas painting skills by creating a large moon cloth that could be lit from behind for particularly dramatic moments. This required even more subtle washes to prevent excessive layers of paint blocking out the light, meaning the students had to be careful that the waxing moon didn’t start dripping.


Lets hope the students don’t get board of all this texturing.


Couple of Lunatics.


It was a bit of a squeeze getting the Moon Frame on stage.


Dramatic lighting for a bit of molton stretching (a material used to block out light- we just want the moon lit up, not the whole sky!)

Over in props, the students have been creating extremely long floral garlands for the numerous weddings and celebrations within the musical. Bunches of fake flowers had to be dyed, painted to look more realistic, and flame-proofed before being wired onto long pieces of mesh that could be flown onto the stage.

Alongside this, they got the chance to do a bit of construction of their own, creating a small village set complete with tiny smoking chimneys. They also raided the idenden supply for the texture, and used broken up bits of fruit crates to create battered tiles for the roofs. Its amazing how much a few raw umber washes can transform something!

And finally, it can’t be an end of year musical without a large vehicle for the 3rd years to get stuck into. Luckily, we were able to source the large cart wheels, but everything else, from the frame to the brakes was down to resident vehicle expert Anna, who no doubt found it a completely different challenge to her Dodgem.

There’s still a bit more fiddling about to do before the show is ready, but its certainly shaping up to be a fantastic end to the year!


Blooming marvellous


I hope no one has hayfever…


Home Sweet Home!


Anna needs to add some brakes, or there might be a Cart-astrophic crash on the ramp!



Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Grad Excellent!

It’s that time of year again! A time where our students can have a go at setting up an exhibition and actually be IN a show for change. Every June, in the brief window before the work on the final musical of the year really kicks off, the Third years across all production arts pathways get to display their best work from their time at Guildhall, producing a show with an interesting mix of props, paintings, bits of scenery, lighting displays and a dodgem. Tom took on the daunting task of Curator, and managed to turn the eclectic mix of work into a dystopian themed show- it felt a bit like something from a Mad Max film, but with more canapés and less carnage.


You could say that 3 years at Guildhall is bit of a rollercoaster ride!

The opening night was completely packed with a mix of industry professionals and former students eyeing up the new wave of talent about to hit the Theatre Scene- I hear there were even a few job offers made, so I think we can safely say the night was a success!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.





Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time and the Conways- J.B. Priestley

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dear Brutus- J.M Barrie

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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


Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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!!!




Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment


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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.










Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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!





Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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)!


Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.


at Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Guildhall Theatre Technology Blog

Theatre Technology pathway blog at Guildhall School


The Guildhall School of Music & Drama's Prop Making Weblog

Armadillo Artifacts

Relics and curios.

Design Realisation (Scenic Art, Scenic Construction and Prop Making)

Step backstage into the workshops at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama

%d bloggers like this: