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Default The Set of Absent Friends

This is the best set i have ever built and even more complex than the
Caravan set ("Caravan" is UK and AUS for "Trailer")
The French doors were donated by a local joinery and the wall sections
(In the theatre called "Flats") were mostly new for this show, I
calculated that their predecessors had at least sixty coats of paint!
I am quite pleased with the railings, they were made from donated scrap
pine and wall framing studs.

I don't usually post pics including the actors, but to me, they are
integral to the set and should be there. Most of the furniture was
bought on eBay and the prints were lent by a photographic company.
Nither the French doors nor the prints have glass so that thir
reflections won't intefere with the lights and sight lines. Audiences
should not see the reflections of the backstage crew and setup.

This group includes a pic of Mrs Mekon, in the blue on the phone. She
is rather too good at playing less than perfect people, I wonder where
she gets it from?

Mekon

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On Sat, 31 Mar 2007 04:53:20 GMT, Mekon
wrote:

This is the best set i have ever built and even more complex than the
Caravan set ("Caravan" is UK and AUS for "Trailer")
The French doors were donated by a local joinery and the wall sections
(In the theatre called "Flats") were mostly new for this show, I
calculated that their predecessors had at least sixty coats of paint!
I am quite pleased with the railings, they were made from donated scrap
pine and wall framing studs.


May have said this before, but until you started posting and commenting
on the sets you build, I had never realized how much work goes into
building sets for theatre.



+--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+

If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough

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Default The Set of Absent Friends

Mark & Juanita presented the following explanation :
On Sat, 31 Mar 2007 04:53:20 GMT, Mekon
wrote:

This is the best set i have ever built and even more complex than the
Caravan set ("Caravan" is UK and AUS for "Trailer")
The French doors were donated by a local joinery and the wall sections
(In the theatre called "Flats") were mostly new for this show, I
calculated that their predecessors had at least sixty coats of paint!
I am quite pleased with the railings, they were made from donated scrap
pine and wall framing studs.


May have said this before, but until you started posting and commenting
on the sets you build, I had never realized how much work goes into
building sets for theatre.



There is, but when the curtain opens (which it will do in about an hour
and a half) and about a hundred people do a collective gasp, it gets
worth it quickly.


Mekon


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Default The Set of Absent Friends

OK - so how do you keep all those "windows" upright without showing
their supports? Canvas flats are one thing - you can hide the bracing
etc. - but walls of "glass" doors and windows?

If you do sets you have to be a decent carpenter, furniture makers
and excellent scrounger. You've clearly got all that and then some.

More info please.

charlie b
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Default The Set of Absent Friends

charlieb expressed precisely :
OK - so how do you keep all those "windows" upright without showing
their supports? Canvas flats are one thing - you can hide the bracing
etc. - but walls of "glass" doors and windows?

If you do sets you have to be a decent carpenter, furniture makers
and excellent scrounger. You've clearly got all that and then some.

More info please.

charlie b




OK... You asked for it

The great blessing for set builders is that it only has to look good
from five meters away and from one side. Other views of the set are a
maze of braces, cables and fixtures to hang lights, doorbells etc.

As for being a good carpenter, we find that carpenters on a set build
slow things down as they are used to building things that last. We
build things that last only four weeks and can be quickly dismantled
and reused in future sets. For example The actors in pic one are
standing on platforms that are modular, 1200 square (about 4 feet?)
with cheap thin black carpet stapled on them. You will also see they
are exactly two steps high. This is so you can re use them in a variety
of configurations. September's play will use these for dancers to dance
on. The step near the feet of the actor is made from the top section of
one of the arches in the second pic.

The set is constructed like a three sided box. So the flats brace each
other at near right angles. Designers never seem to want right angles!

The walls with the windows have a parallel wall behind them with the
garden painted on them. These garden flats are braced to the wall (the
wall has a hardwood stud fixed to it running all the way around about
eight feet high) and fixed to the floor. The window flats are braced to
the garden flats with scrap framing studs placed carefully out of the
sight of the audience. Those that are unavoidable and visible are
painted black and have a black curtain behind them. In the pic attached
you can see the bracing as this is a view audience members cannot see.
It was also taken before the braces were painted and the blacks hung.
There are three in this set in plain sight of the audience but nne can
be seen. The French doors are all screwed to each other and to the
other flats at one end and behind the proscenium at the other. These
sections are not as solid as they appear. Early on in the rehearsal
process, I recognised that stability would be a problem so I asked the
director to block it (stage speak for arranging the actor's movements)
without touching the doors. This was done, consequently what appears to
be solid and strong, is anything but. It won't fall down, but that is
all I'll guarantee!
On other occasions I have used what is called a French brace, which is
a few studs fixed in a triangle and fixed to the flat and floor. In one
show last year the designer wanted three rectangular archways,
seemingly unconnected to anything else. To do this I asked her to
ammend the design so there was a raised platform behind two of the
arches - see the second pic Tower.jpg . The two on the right of the pic
are attached to the platform and I added a triangular perspex brace
down low to each of them. The third had a French brace and was attached
to the fireplace as well. I try to avoid low braces as actors have an
uncanny ability to find something to trip over - it must be all those
lights in thier eyes.

A pillow sized bag of swimming pool salt is sometimes placed inside
free standing objects to give them some weight and stability. I used
this method in a set that required a memorial tombstone. Swimming pool
salt is the cheapest substance I can buy in large bags like that, and
can usually be sold back to the supplier or to a cast/crew member with
a salt water pool.

Door flats are the hardest (If they are what are called 'practicals',
that is, if they open and close) they are usually braced both sides and
there is a thin piece of ply running along the floor and under each
side of the doorway. The object is to make it so the wall doesn't move
when the door is opened or closed. Of course if the director wants a
door slam, then a whole new ballgame begins.
One other thing I build into my sets is a lock up area back stage. This
is often a passage way actors use to get from one side of the stage to
the other without being seen. We share our venue so everything
stealable must be secured between shows.



Mekon



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Default The Set of Absent Friends

On Sun, 01 Apr 2007 12:27:43 -0700, charlieb
wrote:

OK - so how do you keep all those "windows" upright without showing
their supports? Canvas flats are one thing - you can hide the bracing
etc. - but walls of "glass" doors and windows?

If you do sets you have to be a decent carpenter, furniture makers
and excellent scrounger. You've clearly got all that and then some.

More info please.


Could be the fly lines, or braced by a flat. Having worked it theatre
construction in high school the only way to tell for sure is look at
the backside. Or have Mekon the illusionist will enlighten us?

Mark
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Mekon wrote:


OK... You asked for it

The great blessing for set builders is that it only has to look good
from five meters away and from one side. Other views of the set are a
maze of braces, cables and fixtures to hang lights, doorbells etc.


Thanks for the brief tour of a special branch of woodworking - set
building. Things only have to look real - from a distance - under
controlled lighting - and from a given point of view. Simplifies
construction - but by no means simple.

I saw Oliver on Broadway and am still impressed by that set - three
two and a half story components - each triangular so they could
be arranged in several configurations - quickly. Very versatile
design - probably a nightmare to build.

To the actors go the glory. To the set builder go the challenges.

Thanks for filling in some details.

charlie b
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Markem brought next idea :
On Sun, 01 Apr 2007 12:27:43 -0700, charlieb
wrote:

OK - so how do you keep all those "windows" upright without showing
their supports? Canvas flats are one thing - you can hide the bracing
etc. - but walls of "glass" doors and windows?

If you do sets you have to be a decent carpenter, furniture makers
and excellent scrounger. You've clearly got all that and then some.

More info please.


Could be the fly lines, or braced by a flat. Having worked it theatre
construction in high school the only way to tell for sure is look at
the backside. Or have Mekon the illusionist will enlighten us?

Mark



I dream of having a fly tower! Maybe if I ever get a new theatre I will
have that luxury. Meanwhile it is the brace and screw approach for us.



Thanks all for your interest.

Mekon


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