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Posted: May 31, 2011 in Drama Portfolio

Drama Reflection

Posted: May 31, 2011 in Drama Portfolio

Robert Anderson

In the unit of What I Want to Say but Never Will, I was in charge of set design.  I felt that this was particularly challenging as opposed to acting, but it was a learning experience.  I had never designed a set before, so everything I did was brand new to me.  Even the scale drawing was basically new to me.  In 7th grade I had been forced to make scale drawings, but this skill didn’t help me with the kind of drawings I had to make for this.  So basically, what I had to do was learn a new skill and create something with it which would be used in a public performance.

A choice that I felt worked extremely well was the use of the black boards as walls.  They were originally intended to hold paintings, as suggested by Mr. Mosser.  However, they ended up being one of the most versatile set piece.  They provided separation between groups that needed to be separated, they created an edge to the space where the play would take place, and they did hold the paintings efficiently.  Another successful choice was the set actually foraying into the audience a bit.  This, I felt, was an expression of the play’s emphasis on empathy.  It allowed the audience to see the actors as people, rather than just parts of a play.  The inspiration for this decision came from something Jordan Fleming said.  I can’t recall what exactly it was, and I don’t think he knows he was the inspiration for it, but I have to give credit where credit is due.  An original idea I had with no inspiration was to put a podium at the front.  This was for the speakers to be the highlight of the scene.  The cast decided to switch this to a very heavy desk, although I wasn’t there so I don’t know why.  Either way, it worked out, since the desk was a central feature of the end result.

I definitely would have liked to have searched the school completely in the search for three different designs of chairs, as I had originally hoped for.  That was something that I have felt since the early days of my planning would be a handy part of the set.  I could have also gone for some functionless, purely aesthetic features in my set.  This could be a rug or some other form of elegance.  This could have given the set a more refined look than it ended up with.  I feel that the student artwork wasn’t enough to actually serve effectively as the sole source of visual beauty in the set, so it would have been nice to have a little more to look at.  Of course, I did not intend for my set to be what people came to see.  I attempted to make a set that would be in a state that got the audience to focus all of their attention on the actors.

The audience reacted to my set exactly as I’d hoped they would.  They didn’t react to my set.  The set seemed to be unnoticed by the audience, which was really a delightful comment on my efforts.  I didn’t receive any compliments, which may sound like a bad thing, but I didn’t hear anyone say that the set was bad.  It seemed like everyone was neutral to it.  This was really either a compliment to my work as a set designer or an example of their apathy.  I hope it was the former.

Process Narrative

Posted: May 31, 2011 in Drama Portfolio

My task was to design the set for my class’s production of What I Want to Say but Never Will.  I used a variety of sources to aid me in the creation, primarily Mr. Welbes, the internet, and the script itself.  The script had some basic instructions on what to put on the set, which made my job much easier in some areas, and much more difficult in others.  As a result of the script outlining only the very basics of the set design, I had to make a lot of it myself, as well as arranging it all.  My partner and I were generally left to our own devices to construct the set and lights, and I believe we had success.

Mr. Welbes taught me how to make scale drawings in the context of set design.  He showed me how to use a tool that makes lines that are always parallel to the side of the table, which I used to first create the outline of the black box theatre.  After I had the outline of the black box theatre, I went in, using a ruler and the parallel line device to create drawings of the seating areas for the audience.  That would later become the template for all of my designs.  To continue on in my design I had to access the greatest trove of knowledge known to man – the internet.  The internet is an amazing resource because it lets you look at anything that has ever existed.  I attempted to use it to look at previous stagings of What I Want to Say but Never Will, but there were no images online.  This is because I could only find one instance of it ever being performed, which led me to believe that our class was a real trailblazer.  Sadly, this meant that I didn’t have anything to base my design off of.  So I went back to the script and read through noting what was necessary.  The script didn’t have nearly as many clues as I would have liked, as it only suggested the inclusion of student art and it told me to make the set ambiguous.  The set had to resemble a space, but it couldn’t have any features that were solely representative of a single location.  For example, I couldn’t include a sink or a garden hose, as those would indicate that the play took place in a kitchen or outside.  My idea at this point was to create three ambiguous spaces in a single ambiguous space.  I originally intended to create this by having three sets of chairs with different designs set across the stage.  Unfortunately I only had access to one design in large quantities.  This caused me to have an emergency re-design.  I discussed with my partner and the individual responsible for lighting about the issue.  We came up with the idea of rather than using chairs in a horizontal line, we could separate the people by creating a baseball diamond-like shape with the chairs and have them separated space.  This change made it into the final design and was the most characteristic part of my design.  I toyed with several different layouts for the student art, originally planning to have only a few art pieces up, but then changing it to many, and finally back to a few.  I went to Ms. Derbishire to talk about the paintings a few weeks before the performance, but the paintings were being used in an IB art show at the time.  Judging from a snarky comment written on my participation rubric, I don’t believe my teachers were aware that I had asked about them before we actually received them.  After about a week, the art show was over, so I went to Ms. Derbishire again.  This time, I was able to procure a small amount of beautiful artwork with which I could adorn my canvas.  The main reason why I wanted to put only a few up was that I didn’t want to distract the audience from the action, which was the reason I did a lot of what I did.  I received no compliments for my work, which I take as the biggest compliment of all.  I wanted the audience to focus on the actors and the story rather than looking for interesting facets of the set.  Of course, that isn’t to say that if I had infinite resources I wouldn’t have made an elaborate set that features beautiful designs.  I would have much preferred that, but with my budget of ¥0 I thought my austerity measures were wise.  My decision to use the black boards to hang some of the paintings came from Mr. Mosser’s suggestion.  I looked at it and thought to myself, “those would work.”  So I put them in.  Unintentionally, they served a greater purpose by exacerbating the separation between the chairs.  I didn’t put them in to do that, but after they were up I noticed it and liked it.  So, after a period of time the set was constructed.

My work extended beyond the simple set of the play, I also aided Varun and Aimee in their sections of the production.  I helped Aimee with her separating the monologues into characters.  This didn’t go too well since she refused to acknowledge many of my ideas, generally making the claim that my undeveloped brain couldn’t possibly work as well as her finely tuned machine.  Of course, her insults were a bit more hurtful than that.  Generally I decided that my time was best spent either working on my part of the production, or helping Varun with his, where I would be safe from such verbal abuse.  I worked with Varun heavily and helped him plan out his lights.  I, in fact, also set up a large portion of the lights.  This did lower the amount of time I could touch up on the set design, but I felt that the set was sufficient and that the play would look terrible with no lights.  We set that up according to Varun’s design – with some of my suggestions.  In the end, the play looked nice as a result of Varun and my hard work, as well as the actors who worked very hard as well.