Collaboration is Key

I always say that the reason I love doing theatre is the chance to work with others in collaboration. I think I have some excellent and creative ideas, but when I work with others, the ideas get better. Case in point: working with a scenic designer.

First of all, I should mention that I generally ignore the stage directions and set drawings that are found in published scripts. The latter were for a specific production in a specific theatre that is generally unlike mine. The former are taken from a stage manager’s prompt book, again for a specific production with a different director. When I read a play, I see the stage and setting in a very generalized way: where the entrances and exits are, what furniture is needed, and so on. I will await the specifics of structure and set dressing for the scenic designer to suggest.

Of course, See How They Run is a farce, and as a result, much of the blocking that appears in the script will need to be followed, so I have just contradicted myself. I also did look at the set drawing in the published script while preparing my director’s initial groundplan (so I don’t miss anything truly important) and found, as I often do, that my idea for the locations of the front entrance and the exit into the rest of the house were exactly reversed from that drawing. Again, I have to work in my space, and that designer’s idea won’t work.

After some initial sketching, I came up with the drawing below, which I will send to my set designer. I expect it will undergo some changes—my drawing is not to scale in the least!—but does present some ideas of where I would like things to be. And, while I often attempt to do things differently than I have in the past, I did let some elements of my set for What the Butler Saw (a show from early in my professorial career) creep in as an homage. It’s not really plagiarism if you steal from yourself, right?

Published by stephenschrum

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts; interested in virtual worlds, playwrighting, and filmmaking. Now creating a podcast called "Audio Chimera."

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