So, let’s talk about theater. Obviously, the more immediate image that will probably enter your mind is the picture of actors and actresses on the stage, delivering lines impeccably, making wide, open gestures, being as theatrical as they can possibly be. While that image is good enough, it is still not the focus of this article. As you keep reading, you will find that the focus of this article is not on those who get to bask in the spotlight all the time, but on the people who prefer to work behind the scenes: in a phrase, the stage designers. Stage design is an essential aspect of theater, primarily because stage design ensures that the proper context for the play is provided. So, how do you do good stage design?
How to Design Your Stage
There are essentially four steps for you to get on the process of designing your stage. As you follow these four steps, you will most likely find that there are other steps between them, but no matter. The important thing is for you to get a headstart in this particular crucial area of theater.
Get to know the play.
Imagine that you’re shopping online. You wouldn’t carelessly avail of coupon codes on products if in the first place you didn’t know about the shop selling them, would you? The same goes with stage design. For you to effectively construct and design a stage, the first thing you need to do is to do your own research on what the play is all about. Is it a dated play? What are the non-negotiables of the script, or its bare essentials? Who are the characters? What is the conflict? These are relevant information for any stage designer.
Learn to sketch the layout of the floor set.
Yes, you read that right. Stage designers need to have at least a basic background in sketching or drawing, primarily because if you can sketch it, then it becomes easier for you to translate the sketch into a physical construction. Indicate doors, walls, windows, for instance. Specify positions of furniture. After you do this, you can then sketch the setup from the perspective of the audience. (Yep, lots of sketching right here.)
Try to create a scaled model of your set.
No, don’t allow it to sound too intimidating for your ears. While creating a scaled model can indeed be a source of stress, there are ways to make this easier for you, such as taking online courses for this. Creating a scaled version helps you and the rest of your team to visualize your set better, as well as to give space for possible revisions and suggestions.
Now, you can dress the set.
In dressing the set, there are three things you need to pay attention to: functionality, time period, and stage set details. For functionality, remember to prioritize your actors in terms of free movement. Also delineate certain sets carefully for specific acts. For time period, always remember the context of your play, and add the necessary details to match it. And, for stage set details, remember to aim for something that is simple yet defining enough.