Posts Tagged With: Silk Street Theatre

The revolving door spins no more.

Hello everybody!!

It’s been over two months since our last post and now at last, all the shows are up, the academic year is drawing to its close and we’ve got a massive blog to let you know what we’ve been up to.

Since you last heard from us we have built an amazing cast concrete effect set for the Opera double bill; we’ve curated, installed and hosted our annual 3rd Year Graduate Exhibition; slipped in a couple of paint calls, prop makes and fit ups for Opera scenes and Napoli Milionara in the Milton Court Studio Theatre.  Finally, with a massive push we managed to the fit up the phenomenal build for the end of year musical ‘Grand Hotel’. Just a bit busy then!

It’s been a real who’s who of materials and techniques this term right across our Construction, Painting and Props departments.

Construction have had the volume turned up to 11 this term working on the set for Grand Hotel; we’ve seen welding on an industrial scale to construct fully operational revolving doors and two huge frames to support the mirrored and glazed frontage of the Grand Hotel as viewed from the inside.

First thing out were the two metal frames for the frontage and interior of the hotel; box steel welded and then clad in timber and MDF. Once the frames had been constructed it was through to the Paint Shop for black gloss on the cladding and gold leaf on the fret work and window frame details.

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The Gold leaf we use is in fact brass leaf, it is applied directly from the roll onto surfaces coated with an adhesive called Gilding Size. The size is applied over a layer of yellow paint which hides any small holes in the leaf. Once the leaf is on and the size has dried, we brush off the excess leaf and apply two layers of french enamel varnish to seal it, and to achieve the antiqued effect the designer was looking for.

We’ve also been applying more black gloss effect to all the cladding, flats, panels, treads and handrails; you name it – we glossed it!

Before we could get anything fitted up in the Silk Street Theatre, we had to paint an intricate geometric floor design on the stage.

Our friends in the Technical Theatre department helped us out by rigging a projector on to a flying bar so we could project the design on to the stage and trace out the geometric pattern. The whole ellipse was first marbled in white before we marked on the lines for the masking. Thirty five rolls of masking tape later and we began to paint and marble the black tiles. Off with the masking tape the next day and finish the surface with a lovely glaze to create a beautiful marbled floor on to which the set could be installed.

Here’s the beautiful finished floor with a layer of Bona Mega gloss glaze over the marble painting. Amazing!

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We’ve seen the construction of a rotating concierge reception desk made from bendi-ply, a glorious curved and fanned Grand staircase, and seemingly never ending fret work to create art deco inspired hand rails for the various balconies and decorative elements which adorn the glazing and carefully disguised steel deck.

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All the glazing has also been dirtied down by spraying with a matt glaze with a bit of white paint mix in, adding to the slightly defunct look specified by the designer.

Props made three Belfast sinks on wheels complete with dressing room mirror lights.  We had some decorative brackets for the sinks laser cut by a CADCAM company in south London; CutLaserCut have a selection of industrial size laser cutters so we emailed over our design and they were put to work cutting 9mm MDF to make Art Deco style brackets…Laser Power!

End result is an absolutely epic set, I couldn’t wait to see the actors and musicians apply their magic and it certainly didn’t disappoint, it was a great show and a brilliant demonstration of the collaborative production process here at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

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So there you have it, many weeks of hard work was certainly worth it looking at the amazing result. If you want to see a fascinating time lapse video of the set being taken to pieces you’re in luck! It’s quite a cathartic process destructing a set, the thing I find hardest to comprehend is that all those weeks of hard labour can be undone such a short time, about 12 hours. But that’s the way it goes I suppose. See the video courtesy of  the Technical Theatre department either on their blog or by clicking here.

We’re checking out of The Grand Hotel now;

The Props Department have realised a host of interesting and challenging creations this term. We’ve seen the creation of a prosthetic body parts including the frighteningly realistic torso of St. John the Baptist in its unfortunate de-limbed, decapitated and disembolwled state – so goes the brutal end for St. John in the Stradella opera. Our props students have also served an apprenticeship of sorts in coopering, deconstructing Scottish whisky barrels and recreating a fake barrel mid construction which allowed the opera singers to simulate the construction of the barrel during the performance of Arne’s The Cooper. Sound complicated? It is! See Pat’s Blog for a full run down.

Any finally, to round up this academic years activity, our annual first year Puppet Project!

Our first years have just presented their end of year project. The theme for this years project was the Grim tale of Hansel & Gretel set in an urban landscape, conceived as: HSNL + GRTL

The project kicked off with a crash course in puppetry with puppetry guru Steve Tiplady who gave a half day crash course in making and operating puppets.

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The first years then spent a week creating their puppets and taking crash courses in lighting and video editing from our lighting and video lecturers, then it was into the studio, out on location and finally many hours in the editing suite to create their fantastic version of the folk story, great work guys.

That’s it from us until September so enjoy your summer and we’ll see you on the other side.

I’ll leave you with the video of the first years puppet project HSNL + GRTL, enjoy!





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Bringing the little wooden boy to life…

Week 5 kicks off today and with it, fit-up for this term’s opera ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’ designed by Dick Bird. The design realisation workshops at the Guildhall School have been a hive of activity over the past few weeks and we aren’t finished yet as this week is sure to be even busier as we fit the set up in our Silk Street Theatre. The construction workshop and the scenic art paintshop have been changing every day, with new scenic components being made and more layers of paint being applied to make what I’m sure will be a very interesting and impressive set. Here’s just a snippet of what’s been going on in scenic art and construction…(click on the pictures for a closer look!)

The blue fairy’s houses are now completed; vac-formed bricks applied and painted, roofs tiled and chalky slate washes sponged on and trompe l’oeil (literally ‘trick of the eye’) effects added to the perspective windows. There are a lot of interesting processes involved in making and painting each of the houses and I think you’ll agree they look brilliant. One of the elements that I particularly like is the paint effect on the doors that Will made. Kim has been learning the process of creating a crackled paint effect using size, a heated glue that is applied after the base colour. A top layer of paint a different colour is added which is force-dried using a heat gun. This method means that the top layer of paint that dries quickly separates, causing a cracked effect. The process is a fairly organic one meaning that it is quite difficult to predict the result although you can control the cracking to some extent; dictating the direction of the cracks by what way you apply the glue and the top layer, and the general size of the crack by how thickly you apply the paint.

Another interesting component that has been made this week, again by Will is the circus frustum. This piece is made from a timber skeletal structure with MDF wrapped around it. In order to bend the MDF around the shape, the sheets were dampened, clamped in place and left overnight so that when dry they naturally sat in a curved shape. Kim has been working on the paint finish for the frustum, masking off triangles shapes around the curve and adding a dark spray to the edges of each segment to age the piece. It’s a work-in-progress with the yellow still to do but here it is so far…

Another scenic element that has been worked on last week was the Funland sign; a large metal curved sign with decorative elements and letters secured in place. In order to create the piece, lengths of steel were rolled into curved shapes of various radiuses and welded together.  Here is the sign taking shape…

As well as vac-formed bricks, we have used a lot of other vac-formed pieces in the set. The ticket booth and the puppet theatre are both quite complicated pieces, made up from a combination of mouldings, vac form elements and shortwood mouldings to add a highly decorative look to the pieces. Although they take a while to build, and paint, I think you’ll agree they look very impressive when complete. Katie has painted the ticket booth with a variety of scenic processes, including a light crackle effect and antique gold on the mouldings as well as some signwriting. The puppet theatre has a similar effect on it which has been started but will be finished this week.

Well that’s just a small snippet of what we’ve been up to and some of the interesting scenic components that we’ve been working on. Fit-up has started so I’ll be sure to get some photos of the set taking shape in the theatre. Also not forgetting the props team who have been working non-stop on all of the props for the production; including the puppets for the puppet theatre, various masks, Pinocchio’s hair and even a set of whale’s teeth just to name a few! More photos to follow of course, stay tuned…

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Last fit-up of 2013…

Here it is, week 11 of the winter term and only two weeks left before the students break up for Christmas!  The set for our last drama of 2013, Marathon ’33 is safely in the Silk Street Theatre and the technical rehearsals have started ready for the show’s opening at the end of this week. 

The fit-up process was a particularly long one with lots of scenic elements that needed building in situ.  There are four main platforms of varying height that sit at opposite axes in the space and are made from a combination of steel deck and the circular steel deck structures that have been made over the last few weeks.  Two of these structures have been made using huge pieces of solid timber which have put together using coach screws with steel deck on top.

The front of all of the rounded deck have been faced with 18mm ply that has bent to shape using steam.  The steaming process allows the ply to become fairly flexible (for a very short time!) so that it can be bent around curved platforms and secured in place.  When the ply dries out again it retains most of this curved shape. 

There are also two large mirrors that hang at angles above the stage and show the audience the action that is taking place on the platforms.  The centre of the acting space, a large diamond shape is surrounded by a balustrade with advertising posters painted by the scenic art team pasted onto them.  The two scenic cloths sit proudly at either end of the space and above the seating banks more signs and bunting drape and hang. 

This show is a clear example of how collaborative a production can be with concerns to the design realisation department.  Although each individual department has been working solely on certain elements, components such as the cloths utilise skills from all three areas; the construction team built the frames, the scenic art team painted the cloths and the props team made the flip numbers that get used during the action.  Another interesting element of this production is the finish of the set.  The design uses the raw wood finish as the desired style which means that the scenic art team have focussed mainly on the painting the vast number of signs and complicated cloths and besides glazing the ply to protect it, have had very little painting to do on stage.  Instead the challenge for the construction team has been fitting-up the set whilst maintaining this raw wood finish- no filling or painting to cover unsightly joins! I think you’ll agree the set the looks fantastic and a really interesting look for our Silk Street Theatre. 

I’ll try to get some photos of some more of the props that been made including a hospital examination table and the camp beds.  It’s been non stop in the design realisation department this term, and things aren’t slowing down yet…next week is the turn of our first year students to show off their skills in this year’s Design Realisation Project.  Remember last year’s Las Vegas DRP? This year it’s a majestic Pompei paradise designed by our head of Design Realisation Vanessa Cass…stay tuned for some photos, it’s looking glorious!

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A week in the Silk Street Theatre…

Well it is the end of week four in the summer term and that only means one thing: preparations for this term’s opera are well and truly under way.  The set for the upcoming opera, Owen Wingrave, has been fitting up in the Silk Street theatre this week and is looking pretty good.  Here’s what the construction team have been up to this week…

There are a lot of components that make up the set for this opera production, the main one being the long traverse stage that stretches into the auditorium with a large platform built up with treads at the stage end. The parquet flooring which has been painted black by the scenic art team has been laid on the steeldeck stage with a broken jagged edge at one end. Other important elements include a grave near the centre of the long platform, a huge frame (and a secret element or two that you will have to wait and see) near the back of the set, as well as two huge projections screens at either side of the set. It’s been a busy week with a lot of people helping and it has been lovely having our first year students working on the production.

The scenic art team have been busy too this week; continuing their work on the production of May 08 at the Bridewell Theatre which opens tomorrow as well as working on Owen Wingrave…lots of black and gloss glaze to give the set its high gloss finish. The team tackled the parquet floor during a paintcall on stage this week, adding texture to some of the tiles with an idenden mixture. The floor will get its high gloss glaze early tomorrow morning so I will be sure to get some photos of it when it is done.

It hasn’t just been a busy week for the scenic construction and scenic art team, the props department have been working hard on the pheasants and rabbit for the opera. Every time I walk past there is something new and interesting happening in the props department so I will make sure I get some photos of props taking shape, as well as the finished set this week.

That’s a lot of work, and we are only four weeks into the term! Stay tuned for all the goings on of another busy week ahead…

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