New Term, Many New things (and People…)

Summer’s over, and we’ve really hit the ground running down here in DR. Why ease yourself back out of holiday mode with one show, when you can work on three?

In Construction, the students have really stepped up their game and started work on a spiral staircase for the upcoming ‘The Crimps Plays’. Each piece was cut out on the C&C machine and assembled in sections so it can be transferred across the road- I can’t wait to see it finished!


I don’t think things have spiralled out of control just yet.

Next door in the paint shop, the crew have been juggling making testers for the upcoming Opera and painting the floor panels for ‘The Cherry Orchard’. The students have been experimenting with different crackle glazes and Rabbit skin glue (guess what its made of!) to make various cracked tile effects for an old, rundown house that will be the setting for ‘The Consul’- there are rolls of Linoleum and wallpaper everywhere, waiting to be made lovely and grotty.


Meanwhile, the floor for the Cherry Orchard is coming together nicely, now that they’ve got the pattern down. After painting the base to look like wooden floor boards, they used a projector to create large sections of the repeating pattern which they could then trace onto the floor using charcoal, ready to be painted. The main problem at the moment is trying to not accidentally add footprints to the artwork!


For some reason, these tiles smell a bit Bunny


Who said floors should be simple?

And finally, what else to you get with a new term? New students! This week they’ve been working their way around the different departments, learning the basics and making some rather lovely stone effect bricks.

All in all, a pretty exciting start to the year!

(Oh,and we also got a new floor, but as you can see from the pictures, it didn’t stay nice and pristine for long…)

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Puppet Floyd

Hey you!

If you thought everyone would be comfortably numb at the end of term and not want to do another production, you were certainly wrong! Our first years have been putting yet another brick in the wall of work they’ve made over the year, with a puppet project based on the song ‘Matilda Mother’. They’ve been working like Crazy Diamonds, designing, building, filming and editing everything from scratch over the last two weeks, and are almost ready for their great puppet show in the sky!

So, if you like puppets, or Pink Floyd (or both!), come along to LG5, here at Silk street at 4pm today (Monday 10th July), where they’ll be exhibiting their models and screening their film on the dark side of the room!

(And don’t worry about Money- it’s completely free!)VERSION 2 POSTER


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Graduate Exhibition

Usually, those working behind the scenes don’t get much of a chance to really show off which part of a production was theirs, and get the recognition they really deserve. Luckily, we have a nice remedy for that with the Technical Theatre Graduate Exhibition! Every year, the third year students from across the board get to display the things they’ve made and worked on over their time at Guildhall, which makes a show all of itself! The event also works as a way for those in the industry to snap up the students once they graduate, and meet all the new talent that is about to enter their workshops. All in all, it was a roaring success; wine was flowing, people were mingling, and I’m sure many job offers were made.


Tom thought he’d branch out into something a little different when curating this show…


Some amazing models were on display- more like Grand Buda-Best hotel!


This brilliant work is rubbish!


Everyone from lighting, to sound to costume got involved!

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Crazy For You!



What better way to finish the term and start the summer than with the Classic western Musical “Crazy or You!”? Over the last few weeks, our students have been hard at work making the equivalent of a small village for the show- Saloon, Post office, Bar, General store, a Theatre, all we need now is Clint Eastwood! The Good, The Bad and The Ugly? More like The Good, The Cladded and the The Dirty (wash)…


This door looks particularly happy about being part of the Gaiety Theatre set


Painting up the stars of the show (literally…)

Meanwhile in the paint shop, the students were evidently inspired the June heat and created a wonderful desert back cloth, complete with mountains, shrubs and the odd distant mirage. All in all, probably the best view in all of London.


Almost like having a window in the workshop!

Things were equally busy over in props, where the students decided to try their hands at being mechanics, and made a classic car for a horde of dancers to emerge from.

First a timber frame was made and clad in MDF to create the right shape. Then, after lots of filling, sanding and routing later, the car was ready for it’s glossy finish! A basecoat of emulsion was painted on, then covered in a crystal clear resin to make the car look shiny and new- almost like the real thing!


Nice and roomy on the inside.


Also doubles up as a caravan, just in time for the holidays!


Maddie and Becca take health and safety very seriously…


No time to door-dle, the car’s almost finished!

After a hectic final week, with lots of late nights and the odd early start (as appears to be tradition with Musicals!), everything was finished and ready to go. I think everyone is now ready for a bit of a break before the start of the next school year…once we take it all down again, anyway!


Looking good after driving us crazy!


For some reason, the props departmet has no washers left… I wonder where they went?



I think the sets looked pretty amazing in general!


Can you really have a western without swinging saloon doors?

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Its been a while since the last post, but as you can imagine, its been pretty busy! Over the last couple of months the students have been busy working on an Opera, a Musical and an exhibition, as well as many other smaller events; surely just one is enough! So, expect a few more updates over then next couple of days now we actually have time to sit down and have a much needed cup of tea.

First off, Handel’s Baroque Opera “Radamisto”. As it was set in a museum, our prop students made lots of replicas of artefacts to go on display, whilst our scenic painters got something more concrete to work on…

Meanwhile, in construction, the CNC router came in very handy for carving patterns out onto MDF so the students could make decorative benches that rolled off and on the stage. (hopefully pictures coming soon!).

However, the centrepiece of the set was a large relief carving of a Babylonian army, (thankfully made of polystyrene rather than stone), which a group of students worked on alongside visiting freelancers to get the perfect finish. Once it was all put together on the stage, I’m sure it created quite an atmosphere- I can’t wait to see the final photos!


Anna and Rebecca, poly-carving out an army


Anna, hard at work on ‘Humphrey’, our new addition to the DR team.


Humphrey appears to be getting settled into being our new supervisor… hope he doesn’t get too big headed!


By the end of the opera, the scenic painters will be experts in all things concrete!


Marcus, Bethan and Spike being ‘model’ students while making a castle for the Museum, using a mix of polystyrene, MDF and a good coating of Idenden for texture.


Gold Leaf or Gold Leaves? Why not both!


Moving benches in action in front of the finished frieze.

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The Tale of Januarie…In February

Work is well under way for the set of Tale of January. The workshop has been taken over by the makings of a tree, Our scenic artists have been busy painting the leaf cloth and props have a selection of interesting pieces being made.

In the props department, Oscar has made an array of interesting props over the start of the term. He began with the two medieval carts which will be used as market stalls laden with produce.

Oscar has also had some opportunities to brush up on his poly-carving skills.

The produce which would cover the cart has been created using a variety of methods. The fish were cast in 2 hollow halves in latex which were then fixed together. This gave them a pliable and moveable form. The pears have been cast in plastic from a plaster mould using the vacuum former.

Paintshop is busy with a few large scale items for this production. One of the jobs has been to create the stonework effect on the castle wall flat. This was created by painting the cut flats with a red-brown base, masked off when dry and rolled over with a cream and lighter brown mix to give texture and depth to the effect.



Our scenic artists have also successfully tackled the task of painting the leaf cloth. This will be flown in front of the tree. It should create an amazing effect. Can’t wait to see it up.



In construction, Lana and Constance have been working on creating the branches of the tree. A steel frame was made and welded together onto which the airex was cut and fixed using T-nails.

A thousand Lana-deer antlers were gathered and attached to the main branches using two part epoxy to create the smaller branches of the tree.

No Lana-deer were harmed in the making of this tree!

Fortunately, we have a brand spanking new CNC router with which our branches were cut out of airex material.

The tree has been textured with artex and then painted to complete the bark effect. This was done by applying a creamy orange base to the tree and then once dry, adding two paint washes to the top. One for the main bark colour and the second for the shadowing. The effect is amazing!


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Our first years laying the floor! Yes, fit up is well under way and the ply flooring has been laid. This will be painted by scenic art to resemble the brown colour of the model. The edges will be sprayed with black paint which will then be faded into the brown to create a soft gradient.


There are a few pieces in progress around the workshops so I may have some more pics to add and update you on, but for now, due to everyone’s hard work and late nights, it is all looking great!

In addition to our show work, Sam Palmer (3rd year TT student) has been busy in our workshop creating his graduation project. His objective was to create an immersive environment depicting the Sword in the Stone. Sam spent a few weeks making prototypes and working out the best methods to use to create the shape and texture he was looking for. He used chicken wire fixed to a wooden frame to create the shape of the rock. This was then covered with a plaster scrim before being textured and painted. It was a pleasure to have Sam working with us and he did a great job c his final creating his final piece. Personally, I enjoyed the atmosphere he had managed to create. The music and the water running out of the rock elevated the whole thing to another level. Very well done!

Sam used a small pump to push the water out of the top of the rock he then created a moat around the outside of the rock to guide the water back down to the pump.

It was a pleasure to have Sam working with us and he did a great job creating his final piece. Personally, I enjoyed the atmosphere he had managed to create. The music and the water running out of the rock elevated the whole thing to another level. Very well done!



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Vincent and the Yellow House

This years DR project for our first year students has been design by our props lecturer Pat Shammon and was based around Vincent van Gogh and the time he spent in a house in Arles, France which, for a short time, he shared with fellow artist Paul Gaugin.


Model box


Pat had designed the project as a 2 part installation, the first section was designed as a curved wall exhibiting a collection of literature and images about Van Gogh’s life and works in and around the time that he lived in the yellow house with the backdrop blending into a painting of the ‘Café Terrace at Night.’


The curved wall was made in three sections by our first years Spike and Lucy. Canvass was then glued over the plywood cladding ready for painting.


The flats were painted a deep blue which would then be blended into the painting of Van Gogh’s ‘Café terrace at Night.’


Once the painting was completed fairy lights were inserted into the canvass in the centre of the painted stars.

img_1442The display tables were made and mounted to the curved wall and Marcus painted the introduction text onto the flat by hand…(patience of a saint!)img_1439


The second section depicted an immersive, abstract imagining of what one of the rooms inside the house may have looked like. Here Pat took inspiration from Van Gogh’s paintings to inform the appearance and decoration of the props and the dressing of the room.


In the set we can see influences from ‘The bedroom,’ and  ‘Paul Gauguin’s Chair,’ amongst others. These paintings were used as references for the creation of the distorted furniture pieces and the colours and textures used to paint them and their surroundings.

The walls of the room were made as TV flats which were then clad and textured with artex. Once dried, a mix of two washes were applied to give the appearance of old plastered walls. Once installed they received a thin, black spray across the tops and down the corner to give the appearance of soot.

The window itself was made by our very own workshop elf (otherwise known as construction lecturer Edd Smith) Which was a beautiful piece and really helped to pull the two sections of the installation together! Shhh don’t tell anyone!

The floor of the room was made up of 9″x 1″ rough sawn timber which we nailed to a steel deck platform.


Most excitingly we produced our first piece of work from our new CNC router. Andy was able to use it to cut out the exhibition title.

The Furniture

Spike had the challenge of creating a chair to represent Van Gogh’s painting of Gauguin’s chair and successfully imitated the distorted nature of the chair in the painting. The seat itself was made from caved polystyrene and the paint work replicated that of the original painting.


Jess made Van Gogh’s own chair, again taking inspiration from the painting. You can see how the paint and distortion of the prop imitate the style and shapes within the artwork.

Beth created the side table from ‘The Bedroom’ Painting which again had a great distorted element to it and the paint effect perfectly replicated that of the original painting.


Still Life

Alongside their prop making our first years also created some amazing still life drawings that would represent the sketches of Van Gogh and Gauguin on the floor of the studio. We set up a still life display in our props workshops from which the students worked from. Pat tried to incorporate items similar to those that Gauguin and Van Gogh were drawing from.

After a workshop with Vanessa (scenic art lecturer and head of DR), on painting with a palette knife, our first years created some artist copies of Van Gogh works which would be hung on the walls and placed around the set.

These artworks were very effective in displaying the range of work Van Gogh completed in this period as well as creating the look and feel of a working art studio.

To enhance the immersive feel of the installation, artificial candles were placed in the set and soup was set in the pan on top of the stove to make it feel as if the room had been very recently occupied and that we (the viewer) had stumbled into the world of the artist.

It has been a great project and the result was impressive and very well received. Our first year work hard to pull this project together and it paid off. Well done to all the first year students and a BIG THANK YOU to Elliot Smith (our 2nd year TT student for his brilliant lighting of the set)!



Time for a Christmas party methinks!!!!!


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Great Expectations

Its been a few weeks since we were in the midst of the Autumn term opera and we have now just completed fitting up our end of term drama, Great Expectations.

The set consisted of three platforms of accumulating heights leading up to a pier structure at the back of the stage.


The platforms were constructed from steel deck which then had timber sections added to them to give them their angular shapes.


Once the platforms were on stage, the floor boards were then laid and nailed to them. The edges were trimmed off using a skill saw.



Finally treads were installed around the perimeters of the platforms which were then clad with floor boards to match the platforms.


Meanwhile the props workshop was busy carving lumps of polystyrene into an edible looking feast.

Alix worked on creating a roast chicken by firstly covering her poly-carving with a cream coloured base coat and then sponging on the darker orange/brown tones. She finished it off with a gloss glaze to imitate the oily skin of a roasted chicken.

Brussel sprouts and a cabbage was made buy pouring coloured liquid latex into moulds and pealing them out once dried.

The finished plate looked good enough to eat!


Georgia  completed the same process for her leg of ham which had great results!


The plate itself was cast in plaster from a purpose made mould.

Moulds were also made for fennel and fish which would also be part of the feast!

The wedding cake was made by Lana, our 3rd year props manager. She began by cutting three cylinders out of polystyrene which would form the three tiers of the cake. These were stuck together and then carved into in places to give the impression that sections of the cake had crumbled / rotted away.


Lana coated the polystyrene with foam coat and plaster which she sanded down to give a smooth finish. Vacuum formed piping shapes were stuck around the edges of each tier and the cake was painted.

Finally the whole thing was covered in ‘Kobweb’ spray!


Our scenic artist have been busy with the 15′ back cloth which was painted to look like  a stormy sky. The effect was created by applying a number of washes in shades of blue and grey and blending in patches of white for the clouds.


It was important that the paint remained very loose as the cloth was to be used for back projection therefore the transparency of the cloth was critical to achieve the final effect.

…so Great Expectations is now up (looking great) and in rehearsal stage. Our first year students are now working on their Design Realisation Project which is based around Vincent Van Gogh and his time in the yellow house. We have parts of the set coming together quickly so I will have lots to show and tell…until next time!

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Autumn Action

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.

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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!)

img_2941Above: 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.img_2942Above: model box of Crucible design

img_2945 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. img_2990img_3034

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!

img_3031…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!

Until then….


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No rest for the wicked!

It has been the most hectic and exhausting few weeks of the term and in fact year, which means it must be time for a musical!! It is now the day after the opening night and it has been an intense process.

The design for On the 21st Century consists of a beautiful art deco train carriage as the centre piece. The build itself has been a challenge! Having only 2 weeks from the start of construction to fit up has pushed our students to the edge…they have however donned their war paint and thrown themselves into the battle head first.

The first construction task was to construct the art deco portals for the stage. These were constructed with a timer frame and cladded with skin ply before attaching the vac form art deco pattern on top.

To the untrained eye this looks like a relatively simple task right?… would be wrong!…..The challenge here?…getting the patterns to match. Lets just say there were more than a few incidences of people holding their breaths and counting to ten. Fortunately our students are great problem solvers and managed to make the patterns appear to flow seamlessly across the portals.

The portals were then taken through to the paintshop to be turned gold! First they had to be covered with covent garden primer to allow the paint to stick to the plastic, they were then given a coat of antique gold paint and sponged on top with lemon gold.


Scenic art had the big challenge of the back cloth. The cloth itself was a 6 x 15m canvas which needed to be painted to represent the map of the journey from Chicago to New York

The canvas was primed with yellow ochre and then the design was projected onto the cloth, traced and masked off before the rest of the canvass was painted black. The extra elements of the design were laid on top to complete the piece.


Despite the challenge Sunny led the scenic art team effectively and the backdrop was completed relatively painlessly. (Just a few soar biceps).

Our props team, led by Imelda, have been making a series of art deco chandeliers. The main shape of the pieces have been constructed from MDF whilst the patterned sections were created by making the embossed pattern onto a piece of timber and using that to create a number of vacuum formed copies which could then be easily applied to the walls of the chandelier with contact glue.


To finish the chandeliers off they were edged with a silver lace trim (you can just see it hanging in the background of the image) which looks really effective when lit!

The interior walls of the train carriage were next on the construction teams list. The team, led by Jonathan,  created the main structure out of MDF which was then clad with 6mm MDF. The challenge here being the rounded corners to the partitions. The curves were created by heating up the mdf with a heat gun and bending it to give us the soft curves we wanted.


The seating booths were upholstered by our props team. Imelda, Lana and Alena covered the chairs in this plush, purple, velvet fabric and finished them off with gold trimming.

( It’s all very decadent!)

Back in construction Oscar has been busy making the carriage entrance door. It was then given the gold treatment by our scenic artists before being set on stage.



The canvas frames required for the set were constructed with mortise and tendon joins. This was because they were to be displayed from the back and therefore we wanted the finish to be neat and tidy. To create the aged finish required we covered the timber and fabric in a raw umber wash and flicked a thicker mix on the canvass after to give the impression of old paint splatter and stains.


The final piece of the set to make was the face of the train! We had to simplify the train front due to time pressure but the compromise didn’t make it any less of a feature! The piece was constructed as a flat and clad with MDF. The front was embellished with MDF trim to add detail.

The face of the train was edged with rivets to develop its industrial style. We then cut the numbers out on the bandsaw and fixed the number plate to the front.


The face was also given the gold treatment to match the rest of the train and the recesses received a good old raw umber wash to exaggerate the depth. The lights were inserted which really brought it alive onstage!


Final paint call….the last big push for our scenic art students before the set was finished was to paint the diamond pattern Adam had designed, onto the carpet. This was achieved in several stages. Firstly the carpet was primed with covent garden primer this helps to seal the pile and also reduces the amount of paint absorbed by the carpet. The diamond pattern was drawn up on tracing paper and transferred onto the carpet by pouncing over the pattern and rubbing charcoal through the perforated lines. This gave us an outline of the pattern to follow which we then masked over before applying the paint.


The set was left to dry…

…and by some miracle, It was all done!!!




I have to say what a fantastic job our students have done. It has been a really tough build but it looks absolutely beautiful. SO proud of them all!

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