The Taming of the Shrew
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
VIRTUAL PERFORMANCE, 2020
Set Designer and Master Carpenter
Hodges, C. Walter. "Watercolor sketch of the Globe stage" (1986). Folger Shakespeare Library. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Unfortunately, this set was never realized due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the idea behind the set was to borrow elements of the Globe Theater and adapt them for the small space. As shown above, the set included multiple levels. The top level is would-be-railed-off balcony on top of the platform, which would have been utilized in Bianca's music lessons and several scenes including the Merchant. The space between the balcony's front legs would have been outfitted with portiéres that could be drawn back to reveal the bed, used during the Induction Scene 2. On either side of the platform are two entrances elevated on risers (see the white door frame at right). The basic stage level includes a small thrust for characters to use during monologues. Finally, the set would have included two Roman columns, represented with the downstage character boxes, for characters to "hide" behind. Finally, the two flats winging the door frames (shown far right) would have been painted and outfitted with ornate detail work to match the time period.
The goal of this set was to create a dynamic, visually interesting, and time-period accurate set using varying levels, fine details, and elements from Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. A video from students describing the design process and different elements of the set can be found here.
Alice in Wonderland
OCTOBER 17-19, 2019
Set Designer and Master Carpenter
THE RABBIT HOLE AND CHECKERED PERIAKTOIS
These setpieces were used to demonstrate transitions, including Alice's fall down the Rabbit Hole and her journey through the Looking Glass. The Rabbit Hole, shown left, was positioned directly upstage of Alice as the curtains opened on her falling. The checkered periaktois (triangular prisms with a flat on each side), shown right, were spun from their black and white side to their red and white side as Alice stepped through the Looking Glass.
The Looking Glass was constructed of a frame of 4x4s, hidden using the curtains, which were then attached to the nested 2x2 frame shown with gold molding. It was supposed to appear as if the frame was floating. Velvet fabric was then used to cover the 4x4 frame and mimic the appearance of 1940s portières. Alice would step through the slit in the chiffon fabric, at which point the entire platform would spin from black to red fabric in sync with the periaktois, showing Alice's transition through the Looking Glass.
THE CATERPILLAR'S MUSHROOM
The Caterpillar's Mushroom was perhaps the most creative design of the show. With a limited budget, it was necessary to save money wherever possible, so some of the materials used were unexpected. For the body of the mushroom, we repurposed a small circular table built for a previous show. Then, we recovered an old dog bed that was donated to the department for the mushroom head. We then covered the center leg and base of the table with paper mache, which we painted cream and spray painted with blue wrinkles for texture.
THE TEA TABLE
The Tea Table, shown at left, was used in the iconic scene with the Mad Hatter, the Doormouse, and the March Hare. The table was constructed with a 30-degree angle of elevation and used four legs instead of one to allow the actress for the Mad Hatter to walk on it. Construction required precision angled cuts and digging out old trigonometry notebooks to ensure that the tabletop rested perfectly on all four legs. Finally, we painted, stained, and stapled on the tablecloth so it appeared as if time itself was sliding off of the table.
The rosebushes were constructed of two opposing pieces of masonite cut using a jigsaw and slotted together. Wing space very quickly became a constraint given the show's many setpieces, so we decided to clear off a batten, hang the rosebushes using the proper strength cable, and fly the rosebushes in and out.
HUMPTY DUMPTY WALL
The Humpty Dumpty Wall was constructed out of a 6' platform using 4x4s, a sheet of plywood, and a 2x4 border to lock the legs in place. From there, we cut masonite to fit each side and painted it in a cobblestone pattern. Given the weight of the setpiece, it wasn't practical to move it center stage. Instead, the wall moved from just clear of the sightlines in the right wing to downstage right.
EAT ME, DRINK ME TABLE
The Eat Me, Drink Me scene was a challenge for every technician in the show. We needed to make Alice appear as if she was shrinking on stage. After brainstorming and working with other crews, we decided to make another slanted table (non-weight bearing) so Alice could stagger from the short to the tall end of the table and appear smaller. The properties department also cleverly made identical props in different sizes, so everything around Alice grew.
MOCK TURTLE AND GRYPON ROCKS
The rocks were another example of using creativity to remain budget-friendly. Three large boulders were needed for the scene between the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon. To construct them, we cut and crimped together a framework of chicken wire and covered it with paper mache. We then painted them using a base of gray mixed with Rollatex, a paint additive that gives it a grainy texture. We then used a lighter and darker colored textured spray paint to contour the rocks. Despite being time-consuming, these set pieces were constructed at very little cost.
MAJOR SCENES: RABBIT HOLE AND TRIAL SCENE
The left photo shows the stage after Alice falls down the Rabbit Hole. The props, previously at ground level, were flown up to the level shown during the Rabbit Hole scene to give the illusion that Alice was falling. Some of the props, especially the lower ones, are actually interacted with, while the others are there to give the setting a jumbled effect. Also shown are the two checkered periaktois and the Looking Glass, which flip from black to red after Alice steps through the glass. On the right is the trial scene. The Queen of Hearts' chair was outfitted with a large masonite heart and spears. The King of Hearts' chair stands in its parter's shadow, mimicking the characters themselves. The checkered periaktois, also present in this scene, return to white when Alice blows away all of the Card Soldiers and leaves the Looking Glass.
VOTED BEST HEAD OF LIGHTING FOR 2017-18
The Little Mermaid
MUSIC BY ALAN MENKEN, LYRICS BY HOWARD ASHMAN AND GLENN SLATER, AND BOOK BY DOUG WRIGHT
MARCH 22-24, 2018
Lighting Designer and Master Electrician
STORY AND DESIGN CONCEPTS
Taking on The Little Mermaid was a special challenge for me. As a newly-minted freshman with one show under her belt, I was excited to continue learning scenic construction. However, when the Master Electrician unexpectedly needed to leave the show, the director asked me to step in. I had barely even touched the light board and felt sorely underqualified, but I was up for the challenge. I put in hours upon hours learning from other student lighting designers, teaching myself the board through trial and error, and programming the designs. After that journey, words couldn't express my gratitude when the thespians of PVTC voted me for Best Head of Lighting for 2017-18.
The Little Mermaid has many different settings, so the main task I focused on was associating each setting with a different cyc design. Color became a huge factor in the show's cohesion and vibrance.
During any scene that takes place above water, the cyc was set to a medium blue with a yellow glow to represent the sun, separating it from the solid blues, purples, and greens of the underwater scenes. The general stage lights were also at full to flood the stage with light.
Of course, Ursula's lair was set to a vibrant purple alongside dimmer general stage lighting to give a darker, more sinister look.
To represent their own unique colors and give the stage a more playful look, the cyc was set to a rainbow palette when in the Mersisters' Cove.
Scuttle's song "Positoovity" is a big, vibrant dance number. During the transition into the song, when only Scuttle is singing, the general stage lighting was dimmed, the cyc was set to red, and a spotlight
highlighted Scuttle (shown left). Later, when the rest of the dancers entered, the general stage lights went up. The red cyc gave the scene a jazzy, energetic appeal that played well with the orange costume design.
A mix of land and sea, the cyc was set to green during the Grotto scenes. The stage lights were also dimmed to highlight the action on the boat center stage. When the Flotsam and Jetsom shock the boat, two purple beams were flashed to cut through all the other stage lighting and plunge the stage into a blackout.
"UNDER THE SEA"
"Under the Sea" was a fantastic opportunity to play with automated lighting. PVHS' auditorium has four automated moving heads: two Rogue R1 Beams (for bright beams or strobe effects) and two Rogue R1 Spots (with built-in gobos and gels). For "Under the Sea," Bella used a dotted gobo with a prism to split it into three, then programmed both the gobo and the roving head to rotate, making it appear as if bubbles were rising in the blue cyc.
The sunset on the third day is a major plot point in the musical, so I "animated" the sun to move across the cyc by individually programming fifteen cyc palettes beginning with yellows and reds, then transitioning into rich blues and purples. I then linked the cues together so each cyc palette would smoothly transition into the next, making it appear as if the sun were actually setting behind the actors. The sequence played at the end of the singing contest and again during the finale of Ariel and Eric's wedding (shown above).
If I had to describe the set for Lend Me a Tenor in one word, it would be "doors." As shown in the picture at right, the set had 6 entrances and exits, 5 of which were doors. There was also a free-standing door, shown above, which served to divide the set in half.
Lend Me a Tenor
BY KEN LUDWIG
As my first show, the Lend Me a Tenor set provided me with a crash course in problem-solving. The doors were finicky, to say the least, with some refusing to stay closed and others not budging to open. We outfitted the loose doorframes with magnets to hold the door closed and even needed to flip a door vertically that refused to fit into its frame. The wall details also proved another challenge and we needed to make several iterations of stencils to find the right one. All in all, the set proved chaotic but charming, much like the show itself.