Not the Typical Show: Designing for a Primary School’s Mini Musical Drama

Recently I have been busy designing two mini musical drama for two primary schools. One of which, a condensed version of “The Wizard of Oz”, had just been staged in the school hall of the school.

Wizard of Oz - scenic painting

Painting my backdrop on my living room floor

Hanging up my backdrop to dry in the kitchen

Hanging up my backdrop to dry in the kitchen

Completed backdrops!

Completed backdrops!

Working on school productions like these is very different from professional productions. With a very limited budget, I really have to recycle a lot of stock set pieces from the company that engaged me, and then reworking on them so that they fit the show. For “The Wizard of Oz”, I could only source two wooden panels on casters, 4 wire mesh panels on casters, 2 ramps, various small platforms and children’s stools from the company’s store room, and I just have to make do with just these, since there wasn’t enough budget to even get a set builder. To make the panels useable for the show, I decided to make them as backdrop panels; I painted scenery directly onto the wooden panels, whereas for the wire mesh panels, I did the respective paintings onto pieces of cotton fabric, trim them to fit the wire mesh frames and then sew velcro strips on the back of the fabric so that I can attach the fabric backdrops onto the wire mesh panels temporarily (so that the wire mesh panels can still be reused for other purposes in future by just removing the backdrops).

Wizard of Oz - town scene

Wizard of Oz – town scene

Wizard of Oz - front of Wizard's castle

Wizard of Oz – front of Wizard’s castle

Wizard of Oz - inside Wizard's castle

Wizard of Oz – inside Wizard’s castle

Wizard of Oz - forest scene

Wizard of Oz – forest scene

Wizard of Oz - forest scene

Wizard of Oz – forest scene

Wizard of Oz - Witch's castle

Wizard of Oz – Witch’s castle

Although being a small production, the workload for this show is relatively big, since I have to make my own backdrops from scratch. Looking on the bright side, it was still a fun experience still, doing the painting in my living room on the floor, hanging up the backdrop up in the kitchen for drying and stuffs. Most importantly, this show allowed me to brush up on my scenic painting skills, which isn’t my forte in the first place, but at the same time is something I feel is an important skill for me to master as a set designer.

Author: aaron yap

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