Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ready, set, PAINT!!! | Set Design for "The Crucible"

The one thing that holds true for my job as a teacher of visual arts is that I never ever EVER have a boring day at work! The thing that is making my days exciting these days? Well, it's the set design and building for the annual Fall play. Last year my school did The Diary of Anne Frank and this year we're doing "The Crucible."

As with all things set design and building, time is of the essence and even when I work hard with my teammates (the faculty advisors, directors, and producers) and don't actually procrastinate and leave things to the last minute, it just seems like "crunch time" happens and I have to toss my daily lesson plans in order to facilitate things like set painting. That's pretty much what happened yesterday.

The view from the stage among the paint cans, paintbrushes, and sound equipment for our weekly chapel service.

While I will never voluntarily put myself front and center on stage, in front of the big bright lights for performance purposes, I will almost ALWAYS volunteer to be a part of the behind-the-scenes creative process of making the big performances happen. Last year we worked with some stage plans in order to create the set we had but this year? Well... the set design was kind of composited and maybe even improvised a little.

One thing I learned (from my department head and faculty director/producer/advisor for all things performance arts) is that the most successful set designs derive from the perspective of the protagonist of the piece being performed. For "The Crucible," I worked with the other two faculty advisors/directors/producers in order to conceptualize the inspiration for the set design. The inspiration was that the set would look like a rogue/alternate universe/reality that was minimalist and uncomfortable by how it made you feel when you look at it. (Does any of that make sense? I am terrible with explaining things with words sometimes. Obviously.)

Anyway, the creative direction (for the set) was established and then I sat and literally drew up the abstract ideas they had (the two faculty advisors) into a visual representation/plan that the set building team then took and turned into reality! So impressive that they took what I was only told to draw (which was pretty abstract) and then turned it into something real. Here are some sneak peeks of the different parts of the set at the students are painting and "dressing" it...

And at the end of day one this is what I looked like in all of my beautiful MESSY glory. Why paint with the paint you have been given to paint with when you can WEAR the paint you have been given to paint with. I guess you could say I truly get into my work and want to blend in with my surroundings...

The crazy thing about me being so a heavily painted is that this is not abnormal for me even on a regular basis outside of play season. I am pretty much always a walking mess OR a mess waiting to happen. *shrug* Such is life as an art teacher!

We have just barely a week to wood grain and detail every surface of the set and it might be the most back breaking style of effect painting I think I might ever have to do for the rest of my career as an art teacher/set designer and maker. It's all worth it though. I really do think so.

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