A rough initial sketch of what I think the set should look like
Note: Blog post first posted at TheatreFace on November 18, 2012, before this blog was set up.
Designing for Secret Bridesmaids’ Business is a rather unlikely thing for me as I have always been designing stylised and/ or abstract sets since my first set design project in college. I always feel that realistic sets is not my forte as I am not a person that like to go into fine details about what should be in the setting.
To design a set for this version of Secret Bridesmaids’ Business is a challenge. Being relatively naturalistic in style, we do not have a decent budget or a theatre space big enough to support it unfortunately. To cut down the cost on fabrication of set, I have to reuse some of our old stock flats that were already in not-so-good condition for most of the walls of the set. I also reused the venue’s Nivoflexes (once again) to create a raised platform in the set, and then laying them over with stock floorboards to be painted and textured to look like wooden floor. Then I have to go source for cheap furniture pieces (practically every single piece in the setting as we had almost no stock furniture pieces, or the ones we had looked like they should belong in the rubbish collection centre. Fortunately, I managed to get into contact with a local furniture shops that deals with cheap yet elegant looking furniture pieces (mostly on sale), but I had to constantly press my production manager for money so as to make sure that they would not be sold out before I could get my hands on them.
As for the theatre space, we are staging it in a rather small blackbox, and the main set already occupied more than 3/4 of the space. I had this really big window with a scenery of the Sydney skyline in the background. Since there is no depth for backdrop projection, and we do not have budget to get a painted backdrop, we had the scenery painted on PVC canvas, and made lots of holes in the backdrop so that lights could be shoned through the holes to create an illusion of lit urban buildings during night scenes. However, due to the close distance between the backdrop and the window, there was a lot of spillage of face light onto the backdrop. In view of that, I made the decision to close up the translucent curtain of that window throughout the entire show. The effect of the lit buildings became less obvious because of that, and although it was a pity, but I would rather forgo that, than to have a “night scenery” that is as bright as a skyline at dawn.
This is my first attempt at designing a naturalistic set for theatre, and although responses to the set design were relatively good, I felt it could have been made better. The walls of the hotel room, for instance, could be in two tones instead of having just one uniform colour. A thinner material could have been used for the curtains as well, so that the set could be better contextualised by the scenery behind the window. Not forgetting that more decors can be used to deck up the roomtoo, if budget permits.
Portfolio with stage shots can be viewed here.