VIII- Sets:

• The sets make up a crucial part of the production because they define the space and therefore have a direct input on the blocking of the play. The set design is also instrumental in determining the style of a particular production.
• As soon as the director has decided on a concept for the play, the first step is to meet with the set designer, since the set design must be ready before rehearsals begin. The area of sets is divided between:
Set Design
Set Construction

A. Set Designer:
• The set designer is a very important member of the staff of Teatrotaller. S/he is in charge of providing the necessary environment on stage for the production to take place. Because it is such a relevant position within the production, and usually one of the heaviest ones in terms of tasks, it is essential that the person occupying it should possess a series of characteristics to make his/her job easier and more familiar:
The set designer must:
• be creative and open minded.
• be able to work independently with almost no supervision other than the required meetings with the director and the group for artistic purposes.
• be diligent in running a construction schedule on time.
• have some construction knowledge in order to direct the construction crew and be realistic in design choices, construction methods, and materials chosen.
• be willing to spend serious amounts of time on Teatrotaller, as his/her work is of great importance to the success of the overall production.
• be ready to have looots of fun with the tasks s/he will be undertaking.What exactly is the set’s place in the overall production?
• The sets make up a crucial part of the production because they define the space and, therefore, have a direct input on the blocking of the play. The set design is also instrumental in determining the style of a particular production. It is a reinterpretation of the play itself.
• As soon as the director has decided on a concept for the play, the first step is to meet with the set designer, since the set design must be ready before rehearsals begin.
Clueless what to do? Follow these steps and most likely you will get on track:
• Once the set designer has been selected, s/he will meet with other staff members to start coordinating the production.
• Read the play!! It will be very hard to do a good job if you don’t know what you are working with (especially if you start arguing with the director; you will never win if you have not read the play).
• Meet with the director to find out what his/her approach to the project will be. Based on that, and on your own ideas after reading the play, you can start developing a scheme that will enhance the director’s purposes and the production overall.
• The director will usually present his/her ideas through metaphors analogous to the play, or with suggestions about colors and materials to achieve a certain effect. However, his/her word is ont final or almighty. You, as the set designer, has the taks of designing this masterpiece. So feel free to interpret and question the director’s ideas in order to come up with your own. Nevertheless, remember that your work has to still answer to the director’s purposes, even if you do not end up using his/her initial suggestions.
• Before you start the designing process, take a couple of hours to look at the space and the stage you will be designing for. Check out measurements. DO NOT trust the Statler’s measurements given in this book. Even though they are convenient, they will not be helpful until you understand the connotations of a 34’ width of an orchestra lift, the 10’ depth, etc. Most of those measurements will not even be needed once you go into the space and have an overall understanding of how it works from the actors, technicians, and audience points of view. Check measurements for beams, columns, curtains, anything that you think can either be a hindrance or a positive point in terms of supporting frames, hanging stuff (check how high the ceiling actually is if you think you want to hang something, or if there are means of doing so, etc.). Making a sketch of how you actually understand the space will help you a lot as reference material when designing later on.
• Find out what your budget is from the treasurer. This is indispensable when designing and thinking about materials.
• Visit the attic at Goldwin Smith where all the Teatrotaller props are kept. In this book there is a list of props and materials available, but it is very hard to visualize what you really have and can use from a simple description. Therefore, you will be better off if you visit the attic and take a look. The key can be obtained from the Romance Studies main offie. Make plans if you want to work over the weekend because the office is only open from about 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on weekdays. They will lend you the key over the weekend if you ask for it ahead of time.
• After the director/set designer meeting and after visiting your “site,” brainstorm a little bit about random ideas and try to put them on paper. By the end of the first week you should have at least two schemes to talk about with the director in order to be on schedule.

Things to think about when designing:
• Always remember that you are creating a new space on the one that was originally given to you.
• Keep in mind the advantage of using downstage anchors as motivational points to draw the characters to walk towards different points on the stage.
• Try to cover as much of the stage space as possible. The overall design should motivate the actors to move diagonally across the stage. It will help to intensify the visual conflict.
• Think about any special effects that the play and the director’s approach might lend themselves to.
• Go through the different scenes and try to unify all the functional requirements on one design (unless it is totally imperative to have different designs for the different scenes).
• Hint: A good set design is one which nobody remembers after leaving the performance. In other words, its should be so well constructed and in tune with the situations presented that its form and nature will seem natural to the spectator, so that s/he will not notice it unless it is actually their point to do so.
•After coming to agreement with the director about the design, make drawings and build a model. The standard scale for these is either 1”=4’ or (if the design is too big) 1”=8’. When you do the model, build all the pieces, including furniture, but do not glue them. This will give the director some freedom to play around and test the blocking to make sure it is functional to the production’s needs.
• Once the director has given his/her approval, start coordinating to get materials and start construction. The set must be ready by the time Teatrotaller has to move into the theater, which usually happens one week before the performance. The set construction should start about a month before this date.
• Hint: Even if the design seems extremely simple to you and looks as if it will take no time to build, start a month ahead so that you do not suffer from the surprises that always come up during construction. If it is so simple, get it out of the way. That way, the director and the produer will be off your back and you will not be stressed at the end. The director’s mental health and emotional balance depend on you. It is very stressful to think that the sets might not be ready on time. So help keep the director’s sanity by being responsible, professional, and on schedule. Everyone has a lot of work,so do not leave the heaviest part of the job for when nobody can help you.
• Divide the tasks among your people and, if possible, set a weekly time when everyone can get together to work. This will make things run smoother.

After the sets are done, then what?
• Once the sets are built you can lay back for a while, for you will not have any other tasks until the group moves to the theater. The producer is in charge of renting a truck to facilitate this procedure. Your whole crew should be helping to move everything and put it together on stage.
• The week before the play is for rehearsing, not constructing. So make plans to spend about six hours this night in the theater putting up the set. It might take more time or less, depending on the set’s complexity, but ideally the set should be put up that night so that acting and cue rehearsals can do on the rest of the week. Only minor details or last minute things that usually come up in the last week should be taken care of later.
• If the schedule has run as described above, you should not be required to attend more than one run-through or dress rehearsal to check that everything is working fine. You are free the rest of the week until the day of the performance, when you might be needed to take care of minor duties. Other than that, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
After the performance is over:
The day of the strike (when everything is taken out of the theater), the set designer and the crew need to be present to take apart the set and put it away. At this time, an inventory of everything that Teatrotaller has acquired for this production should be made, and copies handed in to the director and to Debra Castillo.

B. Set Construction:
• The construction crew should have from four to six members if everything is to run smoothly.
• It is made up of members of the group who are interested in being creative and having fun with their creativity. No construction knowledge is needed (although it doesn’t hurt), since the set designer should be able to handle this area and teach the crew any skills they need in order to perform their tasks.
• The crew will work under the set designer’s instructions. Tasks and responsibilities will be assigned by the designer. The construction crew should report to the set designer, not the director or producer. However, if the set designer is not working on schedule, it is the crew’s responsibility to let the producer know so that something can be done about it immediately.
• The crew must be present whenever the set designer requires them to be.
• Attending the performance is a must for everybody.