Posts Tagged With: Signwriting

It’s a race against time..

Week 9 is upon us and we are onto the last leg of this term’s marathon of productions now… curving round the last bend and heading towards the finish line.  And it’s a fitting metaphor for this term too as the last drama of the season is Marathon ’33, a show about dance marathons in the 1930’s.  The opera double bill is out of the silk street theatre now and the space is being prepped for the our last production of the term.  Fit-up starts today and as such the workshops are packed full of set and props being built and painted ready to head on stage.  The set is a really interesting design that utilises the flexibility of the Silk Street Theatre and the ability to move the seating banks and create a variety of shapes and levels in the space.  A lot of metal work has been taking place in the main scenic workshop over the last few weeks and some interesting curved platforms have been made.   If you walked though the workshops you’d be mistaken for thinking that we had a full qualified team of fabricators working in here and not second and third year students who only learned to weld a couple of weeks ago- the quality of work is as usual very high! Here are some shots of the team welding…

The props team have also been working hard making props for Marathon ’33 as well as well as this term’s Opera Scenes which is the first opera scenes to take place in our Milton Court Studio.  The props department have a variety of props to make and have been working on some of the signs for Marathon ’33, bunting and camp beds to name but a few.  Here are some photos of the team in action, more to come…

There’s been no rest for the scenic art team either who have been painting cloths and signs for Marathon ’33- good job they have steady hands as there has been a lot of very detailed signwriting and painting going on.  Here is just a snippet of what the team have been doing…

As you can see we’ve certainly been busy as there’s no stopping quite yet; fit-up starts today and there’s only a few working days left before all the props have to be completed.  Luckily we are up to the task and used to pressure…get your running shoes on team, it’s time for the sprint finish! More photos to come…

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The doors of the Silk Street theatre open to the public this evening for the first production of Le nozze de Fiagro.  For those of you who are lucky enough to get tickets let me tell you, you are in for a real treat! I saw a dress rehearsal the other day and it was spectacular and such a brilliant example of how talented the students are here at the Guildhall School. 

If you are going then you will see what the design realisation department have been working on for the last few weeks.  Look out for Hannah’s painted logo near the start, the bed, trees, office desk, flag pole eagles and Adirondack chair which show the diverse skills of the props team and of course the sleek and crisp main scenic component, the huge truck, which looks so nice under the stage lighting.  A good job, well done I’m sure you’ll agree. I’d love to hear your feedback too so leave a comment if you want…

Meanwhile, ‘back at the ranch’ the department have moved on to the next shows in line for the rest of the term.  We have two productions coming up: The Laramie Project and Opera Scenes which is being designed this term by our very own third year Design Realisation student Nancy Nicholson. 

The props department have started work on some rocks for Opera Scenes which have to be strong enough to stand on.  Here is George cutting down pieces of polystyrene ready to glue to his rock piece which has plywood box as a core to add structure and strength.  Lai is carving her rock, adding texture and forming an organic shape. 

 George cutting polystyrene for his rock Lai carving her rock

It’s a long process but they should look very good when they’re are finished.  This half of the term the props department are also making 10 pairs of feathered wings for the Laramie Project (among other things!) so we should get some interesting photos of these being made…and i’m sure we will start to see feathers everywhere!

The scenic art team have been working on samples for opera scenes and the Laramie Project.  The set for the Laramie Project, designed by Libby Watson, consists of a series of platforms at different levels all with aged planks on.  Painted onto the wooden planks are various signs and images such as the well-known coca cola lettering which have faded and worn.  Here are some samples ready to be approved by Libby. 

Sample of planks for Laramie Sample of signage lettering for Laramie

To create the lettering on the set at a later date, the scenic art team will have to work fast so they have prepared a series of ‘pounces’. A pounce is a bit like a stencil which is used to transfer a simple image or outline onto a canvas or flat for example.  The outline is drawn onto the pounce material- in our case heavy duty tracing paper- and then perforated with a spiked wheel.  When the pounce is ready to use, charcoal (or other powders depending on what you are doing) is rubbed into the tiny holes made by the wheel.  When the pounce is removed, a faint dotty outline remains on the set, ready to be painted.  Here, Jennie and Katie start work on some of the pounces neeed…

Jennie working on pounce Katie working on pounce

The rest of the department are busy starting work on the Laramie Project, drafting pieces of scenery to build, ordering materials and planning planning planning! More photos to come as things start being realised next week.

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A sign of the times…

When you think of scenic art, what do you think of? Sweeping landscapes etched in detail onto vast backdrops? Occasionally.  How about ageing brick work and textured plaster walls? More often than you’d think. Or maybe deep mahogany paneling and antique oak floor boards? All the time…

The truth is, scenic artists deal with a huge array of finishes and as such are trained in a huge array of skills.  One of these skills in the art of signwriting.  This week the scenic art team, along with our first years- and a couple of our third years- had a lettering taster session with one of our favourite freelance professional scenic artists, Lionel Stanhope, who regularly comes in to spread his wisdom and work with our students on productions.  Having freelance professionals in the workshops is always a lovely experience as our students can meet somebody directly working in the trade and of course we can show off the talent we have here too!

The morning was a huge success and everyone managed to pick up some useful tips and tricks as well as getting to grips with the basics of block lettering.  These skills are going to be very useful for the team currently working in scenic art as they begin the signs for Nickolas Nickleby Part 2 designed by Dora Schweitzer.  Here you can see some of the signs in progress; second year design realisation student Katie neatly working on the Saracen’s Head, Vanessa talking through second year Kat’s sign with her and third year Lai tackling her massive sign with equal measures of precision. 

I’m looking forward to seeing how all of these turn out, and of course these are only a small selection that need to be painted.  The scenic art team are going to be lettering signs in their sleep at this rate!

Many thanks to Lionel Stanhope for his lettering session, check out his work on his Facebook page; Scenic Art Services!/pages/Scenic-Art-Services/374558700856?fref=ts

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