Our end game of this project is to create a short performance for other members of the course to watch. The performance is based on the German Opera ‘Woyzeck’. We have decided to combine the ideas of the whole year … Continue reading
An important thing that this project has been teaching me is that the initial reaction I have to a performance can also be really important. After reading the opera for the first time we then split off into groups to … Continue reading
The first week of the 18th Century Project was spent making our very own, historically accurate corset. This process was not only long, but very difficult. We had a week to complete this task, which was definitely not long enough. … Continue reading
To create my model for this projects set design, I was able to try a lot of new techniques. I tried soldering, laser cutting, using the spray booth etc. I really enjoyed attempting these precesses, despite the stress involved when things went wrong.
To create the miniature hospital bed I bent copper wire into the correct shapes and soldered all the parts together. This was such a delicate process, and a time consuming one. However difficult I found this technique, I managed to create a bed that was true to real life.
To create the hospital privacy screens I attempted many different processes. These were the most difficult aspect to build. I tried soldering, using electrical wires, filing foam board, cutting card to no avail. In the end I decided to try laser cutting to create the shapes, and then join them together using wire.
Last week we were lucky enough to have a mask maker named Stephen to come in and teach us how to create traditional paper masks. The masks were all to be half face masks, this makes it easier for the wearer to talk and breathe etc. It also makes the whole process quicker, which for us was something we needed.
Our masks were based on characters from one of the two plays; Red Red Shoes and The Ash Girl. Once we had chosen our character, we then picked an adjective out of a box. This adjective would then give our masks emotion. My character was a Wretched Old Lady.
The week began in the workshop with a bit of rough sketching. We were asked to create a continuous line drawing that responded to a number of silly questions that Stephen gave us. A couple of examples of the questions were; What do they smell like? If they were an animal what animal would they be? What landscape would best describe them?
I then flipped the drawing around, moving it so that I was able to pick out key shapes that I could translate into a 3D mask.
The first stage of the mask making process was to sculpt a design out of clay. We used already cast plaster heads, and built clay onto these. A professional mask maker would ideally do a cast of the specific actor that the mask was being made for. Unfortunately for us we did not have enough time within the week to do this too.
The pictures above illustrate the first step of creating my mask. I used small ‘sausage’ shaped pieces of clay to outline the eyes and the edges of the mask. These were the boundaries in which I worked when adding the clay.
To characterise my mask I decided on a large crooked nose, almost witch like, and a hollow bone structure to show the age of the character. An important tip I learnt from this step of the process was to consider the features as lines and planes and not as edges. This important as when the theatre lights hit the mask, the planes pick up light, but the edges would not. I also added wrinkles to the face to help to show the emotion and the age.
The next step in the process was to wet the clay and then cover it in tin foil. The tin foil layer helped to keep the moisture of the clay away from the paper. I found it difficult to do this layer, as it was so easy to rip the foil when smoothing it into the deeper areas.
After the foil it was time for the first layer of paper. We used a mixture of PVA glue and wallpaper paste, better known in the business as cow juice. For the paper we simply used ripped up brown parcel paper. The process is basically that of papé mache.
Creating this mask requires 3 layers. 2 of which are layers of the brown paper (above), between these 2 layers we also added a layer of J cloth. To apply this we used a mixture of PVA glue and polyfiller. This layer makes the mask stronger and more rigid. The only difference with this layer was that we did not put it over the eye wholes or any further than the edges of the mask.
Once we had completed the 2 layers of paper and one of J cloth it was time to remove the mask from the mould. To do this we used the foil to slowly peel it away. Preferably the mask would have slipped completely off the clay, which it did for some of the group, but unfortunately for me my foil took the clay with it. This made the process lengthier for me as I had to scoop all of the clay out of the mask. Once I had completed this lengthy task I then had to embark on another, which was the job of peeling all of the silver foil away from the brown paper, which again took ages.
From this point it was time to trim the mask. This involved getting our scalpels and cutting out the eye holes and nostrils, also trim around the actual mask. Once we had created our cuts we then got the brown paper back out and papered all of our edges.
We now had our mask. The only jobs left were to attach elastic, paint and test them out.
Our brief was to create a photoshopped story board for at least 5 scenes of the play. This allowed us to show how our design will be used in a more interesting way. I liked playing around on photoshop to create these, I think it made it easier to give each scene its individual atmosphere.
Act 1 Scene 1:
This scene is located on the Gun Terrace of the Castle of Elinsore. In this scene Marcellus and Bernardo are guarding the castle, it is where they see the ghost for the first time.
Act 1 Scene 2:
This scene is set in the main court. Claudius makes a speech to his subjects about the death of his brother and his recent marriage to his brothers Widow.
The graffiti that I have added as part of the design is intended to be done by projection mapping. Having the projection allows me to change the graffiti in different scenes so as to give a feel of another location.
The down stage graffiti under the platform is intended to show Claudius’ takeover and his current power. The head is intended to represent Hamlet Sr, and the fact that ‘Claudius’ has been graffitied over the top is meant to show how he caused the death of his own brother.
Act 1 Scene 5:
This scene is located once again on the Gun Terrace. It is the scene where Hamlet interacts with the ghost of his father.
My idea is that the graffitied head itself is the ghost and that it can be illuminated when it interacts. I guess the graffitied face is there constantly, it almost seems like an all seeing eye and serves as a reminder of the betrayal that has occurred.
This scene, set in Gertrude’s Quarters, is where Gertrude meets with hamlet to confront him. Polonius has concealed himself in the room so he can watch over and make sure she was safe. Hamlet stabs Polonius in the hope that he was Claudius.
Again, the graffiti here is meant to help to install the idea of a bedroom. I have tried to incorporate lamp shades into the graffiti for this purpose. I have added a polythene curtain to the platform which becomes an area where Polonius can conceal himself.
The Players Scene:
In this scene Hamlet gets a group of actors to perform a play he has adapted that tells the story of how Claudius killed his own brother.
Here the graffiti that I have designed is intended to be sound waves, a modern idea for a play. I like the idea of the players using the sloped area of the set as a kind of platform. The players are intended to be the youths of the gang; easily impressionable and longing to impress both Claudius and Hamlet.
In this scene the funeral of Ophelia takes place in a cemetery.
For the graffiti in this scene I have drawn some gravestones, and some almost blood looking drips. I also came up with the thought of turning it into a memorial service rather than a funeral. I was thinking about how to turn the space I have into a grave yard, and I think it would be better to not take the idea of a funeral so literally, and alter that to fit in.
After coming up with my design, my next task was to create a to scale 3D model of it. I really enjoyed doing this, it allowed me to experiment a bit more and alter the design when needed.
I had a few issues when creating the model box. I really had to consider the composition of the design to work out if the actors would have enough entrances and exits into the space.
Progression of model box:
-Initial progression of concrete structure.
I used various layers of different tones of grey.
– The next step with my model was to construct the platform and the stair case that went with it. I found this quite challenging as I wanted to make sure I had considered every detail, in order to make it as realistic as possible. Another thing I needed to add was a hand rail. It took me a long time to work out how to do this, but in the end I just had to opt for cutting it out of card.
I have gone through a few design concepts for my set design. I have definitely found it difficult to create something that will work technically within the playhouse and artistically to represent my concept.
I have taken a lot of inspiration from my photos that I have taken, and from the story of the Gunn Brothers, to create a set design that I feel will work.
The only thing left to do now is attempt to build it.
Initial scale drawing of my set design.
Breaking the Space is a mini project that we have been given to help us get into our model boxes. This project is designed to force us to not be too precious with design, and to get to grips with the size of the Nottingham Playhouse stage.
We were asked to bring in a few objects from home, or ones we had found out and about. We were then asked to put these into the model box and to try to create conceptual responses to key moments in Hamlet with them.
We have been given 5 key moments as starting points: Elinsore Castle, Gun Terrace, Graveyard, Gertrude’s Chamber, Ophelia’s madness.
Initially I was thinking about Ophelia’s madness whilst playing around with ivy and twigs in the space. I figured she was a more natural character, one with a lot of innocence driven mad by her fathers passing. She drowns herself at the end of her story, this got me thinking about bringing some sort of luming presence into the model box. I found a blue pillow case that I played around with for this. I found I could use the pillow case in various different ways to create different places and effects. It helped me to create the room at Elinsore by falling, hinting at a wall. This created a more claustrophobic feel in the set, this could be argued to mirror how Hamlet feels in his own life.
For this project we are designing for the Nottingham Playhouse main stage. We took a visit to the stage so that we could photograph it, and get a real idea for the site lines of the stage. The playhouse is a more modern design for a theatre. The auditorium is circular and so there are a lot of ‘cheap seats’ located on the sides that have a slightly obstructed view from the pross.
Another obstructive feature of the theatre is the large circular structure with extra bars that hangs in front of the stage, this means that the height of any set needs to be seriously considered, to make sure that the people sitting at the very back and top get the full effect. The Juliet’s of the stage also offer 2 entrances/ exists on different levels, this is an interesting thing to know as a really simple way of adding levels could be achieved this way.
Going on this site visit has definitely helped me when considering designing, as it allows me to consider the practicality of the design, and how to make sure that all the audience gets the best experience they can. I was able to discover that a design would have to contain a perspective point/ vanishing point.
Nottingham Playhouse Seating Plan:
Stage Left Circle: Centre Back Circle: Stage Right Circle:
Centre Back Stalls: Stage Right Stalls:
Images taken on stage and of the stage: