Designing for the Main Street Stage

It’s like one of those logic problems where you have to figure out who is sitting where at a table.

Main Street Stage is a doing a play and needs a set.  Here are the things to keep in mind:

  1. There are no wings.  Actors can only enter from the front of the stage (up the aisle) or from the back.  All non-stage crosses need to be made by going out of the building and around the block (or through the restaurant next door, should the staff be feeling generous).
  2. There is no fly loft.  The ceiling is ten feet from the stage floor.
  3. There is almost no backstage storage for large set pieces.
  4. The stage is raked (angled, higher at the back and sloping down toward the audience) so all doors must open upstage or have really good latches, else they will swing open during the show.  Also, good luck putting wheels on anything.
  5. The stage is 14 feet across at the front and 17 feet across at the back.  It is 25 feet long.
  6. You have access to a well-stocked wood room with many flats and platforms.  You also have access to a lot of handy people.
  7. Here’s ten bucks.

Have fun kids!

For extra credit: Juliet needs to be in a balcony.  Romeo must not be able to touch her when she is in this balcony and he is on the ground.  It must be believable.  Juliet’s head is not allowed to be in the lighting grid.

I like to think of the space in terms of poetry.  Many people balk at writing formal verse:  the idea of having to find a certain number of syllables with a certain rhythm (oh, and they need end rhyme).  However, it’s easy to see when something in a sonnet isn’t working.  It makes you think hard about each syllable.  Every decision matters and must communicate something.

This carries over into every aspect of production.  At the Main Street Stage, the audience is literally two feet away from the actors.  The power of being in the Keller’s backyard or in the streets of Verona is a huge asset to our productions.  It also means we can speak in much more film-y ways on stage.

On the other hand, when people are that close, you can’t fake old age through make-up and you can’t hope no one sees the tear in that costume.  It rules out many convenient theatre tricks.

I hope to be updating you on the progress of the Twelfth Night design and construction as is progresses this summer.  Stay tuned.

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