Posts Tagged With: Welding

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!

Categories: Design Realisation Project, Opera, Shakespeare, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog is back for a Cunning Christmas

Hello world! Would you believe it?! Already the jolly season is with us and we are thus far blogless… No excuses I’m afraid other than being ear deep in set making and Design Realising, nonetheless; here comes the blog…

It’s been a very interesting term so far with two productions going out on the main stage at Silk Street: The Cunning Peasant and Her Naked Skin. While two more productions: True Dare Kiss and South Downs/The Browning Version – a double bill, were climbing the treads over at our Milton Court Studio Theatre. This blog is a quick run down of what went on during the build for The Cunning Peasant by Dvořák.

In the workshops it was a polystyrene skills fest bonanza as the team set to realising the darkly imagined Tudor timber framed Burton-esque vision of Thomas Hardy’s Essex as designed by Francis O’Connor.

First port of call on the build was – as it so often is – the construction of mass flattage. On this occasion steel frame flats were the order of the day, clad with 4mm ply to provide a base on to which we can glue polystyrene sheets which could then be carved into the herringbone brick infill. Strips of MDF cladding were fixed on top of the polystyrene to create a timber frame appearance synonymous with Tudor Period buildings.

Once the polystryrene had been marked up with the brick formation it was out with the kitchen knives and flat head screwdrivers to carve out the mortar lines and apply plenty of distressing to the edges of the ‘bricks’ adding to the realism. After this we use heat guns to consolidate the carved surface by slightly melt the surface of the poly before finally applying that ubiquitous flexible coating medium – Idenden; which provides a textured surface ready for painting.

Another element of the design which provided a great opportunity to hone our poly carving skills were the plentiful roof tiles. Each tile was cut from 8’ x 4’ sheets of foil covered insulation board, more often found insulating the walls and ceilings of buildings but as always we’re making use of everyday materials in innovative ways. So, the foil was peeled off and the edges of each tile distressed a little with the kitchen knives to look like slate, and once again the Idenden goes on prior to final paint effects, spatter, dry brushing and washes and voilà, roof tiles!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some elements of the design were sky high and this called for some heavy industrial metal processing; time for our monster Ring Rolling machine to be rolled out so we could curve some huge sections of steel tubing. All of our best remembered geometry and GCSE mathematics knowledge were dragged up from the depths and it was best sohcahtoa’s forward to employ some marvelous numeric wizardry and where that didn’t work we bent it a bit more until it did fit!

Our Ring Rolling machine is able to create large or tight curves in anything from light to heavy gauge steel, in square section, flat bar, rod and tube. This section of the design was to be flown above the stage, yet appear to be a continuation of the curved walls, in order to provide enough strength across the span of this section we used 3mm wall mild steel scaffold tubing – which is a demonstration the power of this Ring Rolling machine. The curves were carefully calculated and welded together before extra sections were added creating a branch like structure, on to which more roof tiles were T-nailed into place to create a kind of deconstructing blown away house morphing in to a tree effect, as I perceived it, for me it was a rich and conceptual design which was both interesting and functional in drawing attention to the whole space.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Two movable houses were also part of the build, one made from wooden flats and the other house from welded steel, as the 1st storey had to be fully functioning as a 1st floor. Both were mounted on wheeled trucks and both required more poly carving and of course roof tiles! End result; two extremely des-res, well-appointed – if a little compact, mock Tudor properties in a prime location in Central London. Not sure we can afford the rent on those, maybe we could use them as halls of residence for our new first years…

Speaking of whom….

I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of our new first years who have thus far been inducted into the beginning of their technical theatre education. After spending the first few weeks sampling various areas of our cross discipline faculty we threw then head first into a major build for their self-led Design Realisation Project! Results were stunning BUT… I’m giving nothing away until January, when a full run down with photographic evidence will take the form of our first blog of 2015, that’s right I said it 2015! Ouch!

See you then blogland

Design Realisation


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!





Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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…

Categories: Design Realisation Project, Opera | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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…

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another busy week for the Design Realisation team…

The design realisation workshops have been very busy this last week as all of the staff and students have been focusing all of their energy on building and painting the scenery and props for this year’s musical Rags which will open in our Silk Street Theatre in a couple of weeks.  There has been so much going on that it’s been hard to keep up but hopefully I have managed to take enough photos to show you just a bit of what has been going on over the past few days… The scenic construction department have been very busy, so busy in fact I had hardly have any photos of what’s been going on- every time I turn around something new is happening!  The team have been cracking out scenery left right and center this week, making all of the brick flats and welding some interesting steel frames that are going to have a nice rust finish on them. Here’s a couple of shots to get you going, I will make sure I get some amazing photos next week of the fit-up which is always a fascinating process…

The props team have also been busy this week making flags, banners and carts for Rags…among other things!  I’ve managed to get another photo of our new Design Realisation Assistant Grace making a banner and putting her prop making experience to good use this week and of course third year Meg and second year Katie have been working full on as well continuing on the range of props required for this year’s musical.  Here are a few photos of some of the props taking shape, can’t wait to see them finished they look great!

It’s hard to miss what has been going on in the paintshop this week; every inch of the space is taken up with different scenic element being painted or textured ready for fit-up next week. One of the biggest tasks this week has been texturing all of the brick walls for the musical.  The realistic brick effect is made up from quite a few layers.  First the flats are primed with a mixture of glue, sawdust and water which acts as a gritty base to hold the texture in place.  Next an artex and sawdust mix is applied with the use of a template (lovingly made by the construction team!) which is left to dry overnight.  Then the painting process begins; the base of grout grey is applied followed by the two brick colours.  Then a dry bush technique is used to add more depth to the bricks by applying contrasting brick colours.  Dirty washes are then added to the flat finally followed by a dark speckle spray…phew! I think you’ll agree that’s a long process, but hopefully you think it’s worth it, I think they look brilliant!

As well as all of the bricks, the scenic art team have been busy working on the two cloths for Rags.  Second year design realisation student Hannah has been putting her scenic art skills to the test this week taking the lead on painting the ‘harlequin’ cloth for the musical.  The cloth is mainly black with a lovely checkerboard effect that disappears off into the horizon so they have been drawn up and masked off in perspective.  The white squares are painted to look like marble with grey sponged into them and then marble like veins added.  It looks brilliant already and will look fabulous next to the pink and gold Yiddish proscenium that was built and painted last week.  I will be sure to get a photo of these items together during fit-up…

The final (and biggest) scenic element that the paintshop team have been working on this week is the colossal backcloth for the musical.  The cloth, which measures about 10 meters by 6 has a wonderful image of the New York skyline painted onto it, framed by a series of oversized bricks.  The cloth is a filled cloth which has been painted with layers and layers of paint on the more solid areas, such as the bricks and the buildings, and with only a thin wash of colour on the sky.  This will allow the cloth to be lit from behind during the show so that the sky will have a different appearance based on the scene on stage.  There is still some work to be done on the cloth but I couldn’t wait any longer to post it here…I think you will agree it’s well worth a look and represents the scenic art talents of our third year Design Realisation students Nancy and Daisy very well! What do you think?

I told you we had been busy! And it doesn’t stop there…next week it’s fit-up so the construction team are going to be very busy putting the set for Rags into our Silk Street Theatre.  The scenic art department are going to be working hard finishing the cloths and the props team are going to be getting the props ready for tech week.  All in all it is going to be a very busy week for the design realisation department, working on the last main production of this academic year, and the last show that our third year students will be working on before they leave Guildhall School and enter the industry.  It sounds like we have our work cut out for us…but as usual…we’re game!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From one show to the next…

Week six of the summer term has arrived; minus the Bank Holiday Monday, plus the rain of course…

Week six means that the design realisation department are finishing the last tweaks and additions for this term’s opera Owen Wingrave and are starting work on this term’s musical, Rags. The scenic art and props department spent last week planning and sampling for the musical. Sampling is an important stage in the design realisation process as this is when we try out different techniques and materials to best achieve the finish desired by the designer. Here you can see the scenic art team and Clare from props working on various samples for Rags, designed by Susannah Henry. There are a lot of elements for the musical and lots of paint effects that need to be sampled including the floor and two scenic cloths. Looks good so far, it’ll be interesting to see what techniques and finishes will be used on the final set.

The construction team have been finishing their work on Owen Wingrave by making the last element of the set; some decorative handrails. Painted with the same high gloss seen in the rest of the set, the handrail has been made by welding pieces of box steel together using a jig to hold all of the elements in place and square. Decorative ‘baskets’ were made up to add embellishment to some of the handrails which were constructed in a separate jig beforehand. Here you can see pictures of the handrails being constructed and the various steps in the process. I think you will agree they look very smart and in keeping with the aesthetic of the rest of the production.

This week, look out for the scenic art, scenic construction and props department starting work on the musical. The fit-up is only a few weeks away so things are going to get pretty busy once again in the design realisation workshops…

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Check out the Chekhov ceiling…

Well it’s here once again, another term is about to start and soon the design realisation workshops will be a hive of activity full of students and staff working hard on creating more amazing productions at the Guildhall School.  Whilst the majority of our technical theatre students have been away for the holidays (except the few that have been working on some exciting and collaborative projects across the school), the design realisation staff have been busy setting up ready for another busy term ahead.  The cogs have already started turning in the construction workshop this week, here’s what we have been up to…

Remember way back in November when the construction team began working on the ceiling section for the upcoming production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters which will be presented in our brand new Milton Court Theatre in the next academic year?  Well look at it now…

The ceiling is an ellipse shape which is made up of four sections in two different sizes.  Each section which was welded back in November has been painstakinly clad with layers of timber and MDF to match the panelling effect on the walls of the rest of the set.  This is the first time that all four sections of the ceiling have been put together.  Secure fixings have been welded in place and holes drilled in order to allow the pieces to be bolted together.  There is still a lot of work to be done making the ceiling piece ready for the production, among other things, the last quadrant needs the magic touch of the scenic art team to add the beautiful woodgrain effect.

It’s been a busy few weeks and I am sure that it’s going to get even busier.  We have some very exciting productions this term including a devised piece at the Bridewell Theatre, which is sure to be interesting, our opera Owen Wingrave in the Silk Street Theatre and of course this year’s musical…Rags!  Fasten your seat belts for 12 more fast paced weeks.

All we need now is a bunch of talented and eager students; roll on Monday…!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Figaro Fit-up

The Silk Street Theatre and the Scenic Construction workshops have been a furiously busy this week as the fit-up for Le nozze de Figaro continues. The main focus over the last few days has been the enormous truck light box that tracks from downstage to upstage. Here are some photos of the main truck being constructed…

The truck was built in situ with tracks laid onto the stage floor and MDF sheets laid around it to raise the floor level up to the height of the track. The main base of the truck consists of laddered sections of steel welded together with cross bracing sections. This base holds a series of steel decks with small ‘feet’ bolted into the leg sockets of the deck and welded to the base section. The steel base is strong enough to support a 2 foot overhang at the front to give the impression of the box floating in space and the truck also has double castors at the front to make allowances for the additional weight. The truck been laid with thin MDF sheets to provide a clean and smooth surface for the scenic art team to paint to match with the rest of the gloosy white finish of the box. To ensure that the truck runs smoothly in a straight line, a steel guide has been secured to the stage which will work alongside two pairs of castors mounted on their sides and secuired to the centre underside of the truck. The wheels will run along this guide rail to counteract any sideways movement to keep the truck safely on track.

The side walls of the truck form part of the light box illusion. They have been constructed from box steel which has been welded together and clad with MDF and have been built in three pieces and bolted together in the space. The insides of these sections have been filled with flourescent lighting and LED’s so a lot of co-ordination between the construction department and the lighting team has taken place to ensure there are sufficient fixings available to support the various lights required. The front of these sections have been clad with Opal perspex which looks glossy and white (matching the paint finish of the box) under normal lighting but translucent when lit from behind.

The roof section of the box has been constructed in three large sections in the same way as the side walls, with a steel core and clad with MDF and timber. Getting the pieces into position required the help of the production management team to help hoist each section into the air, move the truck so that it aligns underneath and then lower the ceiling into position to be bolted into place.

There are still elements to be added such as the top of the ceiling to hide the steel structure as well as doors and skirting for example but I think you’ll agree that for now it’s looking pretty impressive!

More photos of the finishing stages coming up as well as all the intersting things happening in the props department…

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s Opera time…

It’s week four of the spring term which means just one thing…the opera has taken over the design realisation workshops!

The upcoming production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro opens in a month’s time in our Silk Street Theatre with the fit-up starting just a week and a half away.  This means that all three of the design realisation workshops are focussing their attention on building and painting the scenery and props for what is bound to be another brilliant Guildhall School Opera. 

The props department is currently dominated by a series of 7 meter trees stretching through the space.  The  team have been sculpting and texturing polystyrene which has been fixed to large lengths of timber and painted to look like tree trunks.  The process is quite a long one with texture being applied and working into to create the bark effect.  Layers of paint give the trees more character and a mossy feel and some branches have been added to give the impression of realistic trees that stretch far beyond what the audience will see.  There are seven of these tree to make so the props team have their hands full as they also have several other props to make including a traditional Adirondack chair and a pair of gilded eagles which will adorn the tops of flagpoles.  It is fair to say that the props department are going to be busy for the next couple of weeks but as usual it’ll be interesting too.  I’ll be sure to get some photos!

In the paintshop the scenic art team have been working on one of the cloths for the Opera.  The basement cloth is painted to look like a wall of shutter concrete that has been cast in wooden moulds which has left a wood grained relief on the surface of the concrete.  This is an interesting process for the scenic artists as they are utilising their knowledge of woodgraining techniques but considering the different material for things like colour and texture.  Here are some photos of the cloth in progress where you can see how they have used dragging techniques and washes to achieve the finished result. 

Noises of grinders and metal cutters coupled with sparks of bright blue welcome us into the world of scenic construction.   The construction team are all currently clad in overalls, gloves and ear defenders at the moment as they are working primarily with steel building the scenery for the opera.  Third year Ceri and second year design realisation student Jenny have been welding ceiling pieces for the set.  As the frames are longer than a length of steel, Ceri welded extension pieces onto the end of the box section (with the use of a fancy jig for holding all the elements straight and square) which form the sides of the frames for the ceiling, which Jenny and Ceri have been welding today.  Here are some photos of the girls welding…I do love a welding photo, can you guess?

It’ll be a fast-paced week this week with lots of interesting makes so stay tuned for updates on how the opera is panning out!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at


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: