Posts Tagged With: projection

End of term trio

It has been a steady few weeks with injections of hysteria as we have been working on the three sets over the spring term in Design Realisation.

We have been preparing our Silk Street stage for ‘Go Make you Ready,’ Designed by Mark Simmons.  This was a vast and open set divided into an indoor/outdoor space with a strong contrast of colour and texture.

The Cloth

The main challenge of the set was taken on by our scenic art students Becca and Claudia who were led by our third year Sneha. The task was to paint two cloths at 8m x 4.5m and 8m x 3m with a dense forest scene inspired by the painting, ‘A Stag Hunt in a Forest’ by Jan Hackaert and Nicholaes Berchem, to hang up-stage, left of the set.

A Stag Hunt in  a Forest. Oil on canvas by Jan Hackaert and Nicholaes Berchem. 1660


Here you can see the cloth being worked on in it’s various stages. The shapes of the trees were traced onto the cloth by projecting the artists image onto it and tracing round the trees in charcoal. The darker background tones were then blocked in and then the lighter shades were painted on top in stages to give the illusion of a 3D image.

The Floor

The stage itself was on a raised steel deck platform and was covered 2/3 in laminate flooring and 1/3 in painted carpet tiles. The carpet tiles (of which there were about 300) were individually primed with Covent Garden primer to prevent the paint from rubbing off and painted using a stencil. This took a big group effort to finish  but was effective once laid all together onstage.


Up-stage right consisted of a large steel frame which was constructed by our 2nd year student Lana and was clad in plywood in order to provide a screen to project on during the show.



Prospero’s Staff

In props Hellen had the task of creating Prospero’s staff  which she did by drawing the shape in Sketch-up and 3D printing it. Then she created a mould out of Latex and cast the shape in crystal clear resin. The final piece had to be sanded and polished to give it a smooth cut glass look. The staff needed to be made as a break-away prop. This was done by sawing the cue in half and inserting a dowel into one end and drilling a hole to insert the dowel in the other half. This way the staff could be snapped along this seam each performance and reset by inserting a new dowel into the socket.

White LEDs were placed under the end of the crystal to make the staff glow which made for an effective looking practical prop.


Once the set was fitted up there were a few tweaks to make before the show went up. We put an extra wash on the forest cloth to bring the bushes into shadow a little more and there was a little dulling down of the yellow crosses on carpet tiles. Overall it was a job well done.


Alongside this our scenic art students were also preparing a cloth for the set of ‘Guns and Drums’ designed by our own third year student Sunny Smith. This piece was to be the floor cloth and was designed to look like a birds eye view of war trenches.

The organic waving lines were traced onto the cloth using a projected image from the model. The lines were then painted onto the cloth and finally washes were then applied to break up and blend the background colour with the red and blue lines.

Our spring term Opera Scenes set was designed my another of our third year students Alena, who’s design resembled an abandoned industrial space. The main structure consisted of a platform and a ramp which the actors were to slide down and was made by Vincent, Ollie, and Lana. The set was dressed with a selection of found items which our trusty Tom Downing scoured around London in junk yards to find. Superhero!

These items were then given various paint treatments to enhance their rust and to break down the surfaces.

The set had a great grungy industrial feel and was very effective onstage. Well done to everyone!

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Opera Double Bill / Burnt By The Sun

It has been a very busy couple of months for us in Design Realisation starting with our Silk Street production of Burnt by the Sun and Our Opera double of Hans Werner Henze: Phaedra and Ein Landarzt.

Our students did a great job at realising the designs of Dora Schweitzer for Burnt By The Sun. The set consisted of a backdrop collage of window frames brought together with a selection of Russian paintings done by our students and carefully selected Russian’esque’ furnishings and props. The set was transformed with striking silk painted backdrop of Stalin. It all came together creating a wonderfully open, floating frame for the Russian drama.

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Guilia and Jasmine (working at super-human speed!) on their Russian paintings.

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The finished articles.

The Stalin Cloth

The Stalin cloth had to be executed very carefully as it was a very large feature in the play. The students in scenic art produced a selection of samples for the piece before beginning work on the final peice.

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The image was projected onto the silk and was masked with newspaper to give a silhouette shape of the piece. A base was then sprayed onto the silk in thin layers and built up in stages to give a solid white background to paint onto. The image was then projected back onto the white base and the grey sections traced out and painted in by hand.

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The set coming together….

Opera Double Bill: Phaedra and Ein Landarzt

Our opera double bill took place in our Milton Court theatre and was designed by Cordillia Chisholm. The set consisted of a semi circle of black panelled doorways which surrounded an automated light ring installation. The set was brought to life with projections mapped across the whole set.


The flats and doors were built in construction with the help of our 1st year Associated Studied students. The students were able to apply the methods they learnt for making basic flats to the construction of the doors and doorways.

In scenic art a black base was then applied to the flats and they were given a silvered grain effect using a watered down black washed mixed with silver pigment powder and applied using a fairly dry wide brush and dragging it along the panels in a smooth steady motion. finally a glaze coat was applied which helped to bring out the shimmer of the graining.

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The Light Ring

A central feature to the set for the Opera Double was a circular light ring which was automated around a large mirror piece and emitted a series of colours through LEDs.

A test ring was rolled and welded by our students in construction so that its movements could be mapped onstage before the final ring was made.

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The final ring was made using the same method as the test ring. It was then clad with MDF creating a box for the LED strips to be placed into. The top of the light ring was then closed with frosted acrylic which was cut out in sections and put in place.

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Construction were then set the challenge of creating the tubing for the outside of the light ring. This started its life as several pieces of white PVC tubing. A slot was cut out along the entire length which would eventually allow us to clip the tube over the line of LED strips the went around the outside of the ring. Holes were then drilled through the tubing to allow the light to leak through and the inside of the tubing was painted black.

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Finally the outside of the tubing was sprayed silver and fixed onto the outside of the ring IMG_0677 IMG_0675 IMG_0681



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It must be musical time…

Now that this term’s opera Owen Wingrave has opened, the design realisation department have turned all their attention to this year’s musical which takes place at the end of our summer term.  This year, the musical is Rags and as you’d expect from a Guildhall School musical, it’s going to be quite spectacle!

The whole of the technical theatre department have their work cut out for them over the next couple of weeks and for the design realisation team, this means building and painting all of the scenery and props.  As you’d expect, the department are working full-on realising Susannah Henry’s design.  Here’s just a snippet of what’s been going on in the scenic workshop and the paintshop…

The construction team have been ‘stepping up’ (couldn’t resist!) their game this week building a series of treads for the musical.  There are 6 full sets of treads on stage, three pairs of various sizes which have been expertly constructed by the team with a woodgrain finish added by the scenic art department.  They also have a stone-like effect  which creeps up the treads; added after the woodgrain.  Here are some shots of the treads being made and painted…

Another element of the set that has been made and painted this week is the Yiddish Proscenium.  As you can see from the pictures, the pros is a dusky pink with ornate gold detail added.  The whole thing is aged with some dirty washes and a dark spray which really gives it some character.  This piece of scenery is a real collaborated effort from the design realisation department as the proscenium itself has been built by the construction team and painted by the scenic artists with the swags being made by the props department.  I’ll be sure to get some shots of the finished set piece during fit-up next week.

The scenic art team have also been busy working on one of the cloths for the musical.  The huge New York skyline cloth has an interesting brick effect around the edge which you can see has been started here.  One of the challenges of this cloth which makes it different to many of the cloths we paint here at the Guildhall School is that it has to be backlit.  Because of this, we are using a filled cloth which is left unprimed.  This means that we can build up several layers of paint on the areas of the cloth that needs to be more opaque and use thinner washes of colour for the sky which will need to be more translucent so that when lit from behind, the light can shine through.  The cloth has been split into grids to allow the team to easily pinpoint which part of the reference they are working on, which is standard practice for a cloth such as this.  The skyline itself has been projected onto the cloth to get the outline, which will then have the details such as the windows drawn in later.  Here is where we are up to…

Well I think you’ll agree that we have been busy this last week.  Next week is going to be even busier; there’s plenty more set to build and paint before the fit-up starts, plus we start another cloth on the paintframe this week; the harlequin cloth so I’ll be sure to get some more photos of both cloths taking shape.  Some very interesting props are being made in the props department too; there are some carts, flags and a gramophone for the musical, as well as a defibrillator for Opera Scenes.  Photos to follow…get ready for a busy week ahead…

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