As a continuation of our Summer Camp blog series, over the months leading up to the kick-off of our Levoy Theatre Summer Camp, we will be taking you on an adventure through the ins and outs of what a life in the theatre might look like. This adventure is both for the kids attending our summer camp, their friends, and, of course, their parents! We’ll explore 6 different jobs that are critical to the success of any theatrical production. This month, we explore the world of costume design as explained by costume designer of many Levoy Theatre productions including The King and I, Grease!, and the upcoming Sister Act: the Musical, Mary Boner! Stay tuned for our next blog post, coming at you next month!
Imagine…a play without a backdrop or set piece, and then like a “snap of a finger” – the set magically appears! Wouldn’t that be amazing? As a Set Designer, it is my job to bring this “magic” to life with a creative design that will transport the audience into another place and time. When asked to be in this position, it is so important to prepare and to understand: what the play is about, where does it take place, and why was this play written?
How do I begin to prepare for this play? First, I do my research by looking for pictures and information on the internet, or from books about the play. Secondly, I draw pictures of scenes from the play, to prepare myself to understand the story behind the play. Thirdly, a meeting is set-up, so that I can discuss the play with the Director and with members of the Production Team. Who is a part of the production team? This team includes: a Director, a Production Manager, a Stage Manager, and a Scenic Builder. Now it is time to discuss creative ideas about the set. We talk about what set pieces will roll with wheels onto the stage, or fly up in the air on the fly system. After this meeting, I return home and begin to create graph paper drawings and models of the set. Each square on the graph represents 1’ square foot. The models that I make are called scale models. They are like miniature versions of the what the bigger set pieces will look like. I also will have a miniature stage made out of graph paper so the team can see where everything will be located. Another meeting is set-up and I will present my design and scenic models to the Production Team. Once everyone is happy with the designs, I hand them over to the Scenic Builder.
Now the “magic” begins! The sets are made by the Scenic Builder out of many different kinds of materials, such as: wood, cardboard, metal screws, staples, and glue. As a Set Designer, it is very important that I communicate with the Scenic Builder. Sometimes, they want to know if they can change a design. I then will redesign it. Also, a good Production Manager is also very important as they can help us with anything that we may need. That may include more materials, or perhaps additional help to complete the job.
After each set piece is built, the Scenic Artist will paint the pieces to look like a school, church, a tree, a stairway, a brick wall, a wagon, the list goes on! It takes many weeks to produce all of the sets and it is so important to have them done by the due date. Finally, we bring all of our set pieces onto the stage a week or so before the audience sees them. It is very important to instruct the crew and actors to let them know when the pieces will fly up, or move onto the stage at the right time. We must work together as a team and be very careful, as accidents can happen.
It is now opening night, and you are seated to see the play. The curtain goes up, and then suddenly the vision appears. You are somewhere in time, and in a new place. How did you get there? Hopefully, the artistic vision that I created transported you there! As a Set Designer, I love bringing this “magical vision” to audiences. As you have read, it may not be in the “snap of a finger.” It takes a lot of hard work and time, but I love creating and painting to make everyone’s dreams of performing come to life! As you can see, the play would not be here, there, or anywhere without this vision. I hope that all of you pursue your dreams whether they be through becoming a Set Designer, Stage Production, Crew, or an Actor. The Theater offers so many opportunities to show off your talents. Come join us and be a part of this magical world!
For more information on the Levoy Theatre’s Summer Camp, please visit levoy.net/camp or call us at (856)-327-6400!