Outline of Script Analysis for the Set Designer

1. Title of play, playwright
2. When written, time and place first produced
3. Notes on the playwright, e.g., life span, social status, connection to culture and politics of the times, purpose for writing, etc.
4. List of other major plays written.
5. Playwright's set descriptions -- abridged.
6. Notes found in text. Begin each section with Act#, Scene#, general description of setting.
Note stage directions and dialogue reference that answer the following questions:
Where are we? geographic location, socioeconomic environment, physical surroundings.
When are we? historic period, time of day, passage of time, etc.
What are action requirements? necessary exits and entrances, interaction with set, abuse of set, etc.
What are essential motivational units? furniture, levels, set dressing, etc.
What are essential properties? hand, dressing, costume, etc.,
What are the lighting requirements? motivational lighting, mood shifts, special effects, etc.
What are sound requirements? type and location of sounds, etc.
What are pivotal dramatic moments?
What is the playwright really saying in this play?
How does the setting change or evolve over time?

 

Example of format: (write page number and category in left margin)

ACT I, Scene I - Garden of manor house, stairs up to the house stage right, table and two chairs center stage and bench stage left.

page category line reference
22 ? set Jack enters from back of garden (through gate, behind bush?)
24 set Jack "I never saw so many beautiful flowers in one place before"
25 prp Cecily picks a pink rose from a bush and places it in vase on the garden table.
32 snd A piano is heard from inside the house (need window?)
33 ? prp Butler enters with a card on a salver

45 ? prp Butler serves afternoon tea -- how many need to partake? Does this include food as well?
48 ? set Ernest, "The faces in those corbels upset me" idea -- perhaps faces are hidden in other architectural elements?
48 lts a dark cloud passes overhead
59 theme Jack "People just don't do that sort of thing!"


7. Consolidate your notes into a concise list of scenic requirements.
8. List the pivotal dramatic moments that require visual support and focus.
9. Describe the presentational style, mood, & atmostphere of the play.
10. Describe the theme/central idea /core conflict of the play.
11. List the items and ideas that you need to research.
12. List questions to ask the director and others on the production team.
13. Write a brief synopsis of play as if you are telling the story to a friend who is not familiar with the play.

 

 

Additional questions to answer while analyzing the play.

*What is the major conflict of the play?
*In what context does this conflict occur in present times?
*Why should the play be presented in its historic context?
*How might a contemporary audience accept it?
*Could the play take place in a different scenic environment?
*What do we know about the main characters from the scenic environment?
*Which character changes the most? How? Why?
*What aspects of the scenic environment support the theme of the play?
*What is overall shape of scenic environment? rectangular?, circular?, horizontal?, vertical?, diagonal? etc.
*What is overall color, value, and texture of scenic environment? bright red and shiny? murky brown like old burlap?
*What is quality of scenic environment? ordered or disordered?, clean or dirty? soft or hard edged? etc.
* What is the relationship between the performers and audience? What are the boundaries between them?
* How should scenic environment fit into theatre: perpendicular?, skewed?, in front of proscenium?, behind? in audiences lap? etc.
*What is importance of area outside of main scenic environment?
*Who in the world of the play created the scenic environment?
*What part does light play in dramatic action? Sound?