RED RED SHOES | THE BEGINNING

I made the decision to design a tour-able show for the play Red Red Shoes. The set, props, costumes and any technical equipment all have to fit into the back of a van, and be set up by the cast within an hour. We have been given a cast of 4-5 actors and 1 stage manager to create this show. This means that 8 characters and all of the cast roles have to be shared between a maximum of 5 actors.

A key thing about this project is that I really want to keep it as simple as possible. I want to focus on a key concept, and cleverly configure a design that portrays it. At the moment I am thinking of focusing the set design around the concept of the head of a traumatised child and also looking at the medical centre.

I like the idea of a traverse production that somehow includes the audience more than the average production. I am considering incorporating a way for the children to get involved by making noises that add to the scenes being set in the play. An idea that could be interesting is experimenting with a way to encourage the children to stamp their feet when Franvera begins to dance.

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YEAR 2| YOUNG PEOPLE’S THEATRE

After a long summer we are finally back to continue the course at Trent. This year we have a lost going on including the idea of going on a placement, alongside multiple design projects. This term we have been asked to consider children’s plays and how design can help to engage the children with the content.

The two specific plays that we are looking at are; ‘Red Red Shoes’ by Charles Way, and ‘The Ash Girl’ by Timberlake Wertenbaker. The Idea being that we either create a speculative design scheme for either of the plays, or devise and perform a short version of Red Red shoes to local school children.

Red Red Shoes:

This play is a take on ‘The Red Shoes’ by Hans Christian Anderson. The play tells a story of a young girl named Franvera, who lives to dance. On her birthday she is given a pair of red dancing shoes to aid her dream of dancing for her country. she is unaware of the turmoil that is to unfold around her. Her village is to be ransacked and anyone who was not born in the country was to be forced out. The women, children and elderly marched across the border as the men where killed within. Franvera escapes, but is left by her mother who goes back after her father. She crosses the border with other townsfolk to face more issues.

It is important to note that the play is designed to be unfolding within Franveras mind. It is disjointed and imaginitive.

The story is one of ethnic cleansing and refugees that occur so much in our society, however Way has managed to turn it into a fairy tale; arguably making it more accessible to a younger audience.

The Ash Girl:

This play is based around the famous fairytale; ‘Cinderella. Ash Girl is the main character who lives with her step mother and two step sisters. Unlike the tale of ‘Cinderella’ Ash Girl’s step mother is not a nasty one, she does not make Ash Girl stay home from the ball or spend all her time cleaning; Ash Girl decides to do this for herself.

Within this story The Prince is Indian, and has just moved to this cold foreign land to escape the turmoil of his own. The Princes mother then holds a ball to find Prince Amir a wife, and route him to this new country. The story unfolds much like Cinderella with Ash Girls step family attending, and the fairy paying a visit. Ash Girl attends and dances, leaves her shoe etc. Much like the Grimms tale the Step Mother mutilates her daughters feet to make them fit the shoe. Amir sees through this, finds Ash Girl and the story finishes with them together.

One of the main differences between ‘Ash Girl’ and ‘Cinderella’ is that Ash Girl is more about self discovery. The fairy in the mirror cannot help Ash Girl without her defeating sadness and believing that she is pretty etc. Timberlake has also incorporated the idea of the 7 deadly sins into the play, through the parts of woodland animals, this explores the idea that we all have demons that we need to defeat in order to be happy and grounded.

HAMLET | STORY BOARD

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Gertrudes Quarters:

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.

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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.

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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.

The Graveyard:

In this scene the funeral of Ophelia takes place in a cemetery.

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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.

 

HAMLET | BACKDROP

Once I had finished constructing my model box, I realised that I hadn’t considered a backdrop for my design. At the moment the backdrop is the theatre itself. To follow on from my concept I thought a great idea would be to get back out into Nottingham and take some photos of horizons and skylines that I could layer behind.

I went to various locations to try to find an image. These locations include The Corner House, The Victoria Centre and the top of the Plaza carpark. Each of the locations allowed me to get interesting photos, however a lot of the photos I got seemed to be at the wrong angle to work.

The final Photos to Choose from:

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Taken from the top of the Plaza Carpark.

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Taken from inside The Corner House.

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Taken outside Aldi looking up at The Victoria Centre.

To help me decide which photo to use I turned to photo shop so I could test them out. I personally prefer the 3rd image as the backdrop.

 

HAMLET | MODEL BOX

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.

Final image:

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HAMLET | SET

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.

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Initial scale drawing of my set design.

HAMLET | PHOTOS

Following on from my previous post I made last I have visited a few locations in Nottingham for inspiration for my concept.

The first place that I went to was the Nottingham Contemporary museum. Here i took photos under the bridge bellow, and of the stairs etc. I found this location interesting because of the different levels and the different materials that were there. I got some interesting photos that will definitely aid my design process.

I also visited a recently abandoned shopping strip in Lenton called Church Square.  It is a small strip of shops that are no longer in use due to redevelopment. The shops have only recently been vacated, with last cafe closing as late as April this year. I really liked the structural layout of the strip. I especially liked the colour of the metal stairs, this is definitely something I will take forward into my design; Blue industrial stairs.

 

Another key photo that I have taken for this project is one of my flat mate. I took this photo on a whim as I liked the graffiti, and he was wearing an outfit relevant to my concept. I really like the graffiti in this picture, as I think it represents the graffiti that Nottingham has. In the centre of Nottingham, especially, the graffiti is more like art than tag lines. I want to show this in my designs by making them more graphical.

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HAMLET |CONCEPT

Due to the fact our speculative designs for Hamlet are intended for the Nottingham Playhouse, I decided to look for an idea that would relate more to the location. I decided to look into gang culture, and the relevance of it here in Nottingham. After all Nottingham’s nickname is shottingham.

My initial research brought to light the Gunn brothers. They are to brothers that ran a cartel called the ‘Bestwood Cartel’. The story of the Gunn brothers is interesting, they were clever, they would give money to the locals etc to keep them on their side. They employed people to go into the police force on their behalf so they could avoid jail time. Colin Gunn notoriously worked with the police for self serving reasons; for example ratting out his enemies.

My set designs revolve around the idea of considering a place that the gang/ cartel would lurk. A sort of ‘patch’. I liked the idea of creating a sort of underworld theme through my set. The intention is to keep the set very naturalistic and applicable to Nottingham.

The first image to inspire me structurally, was this image of an underpass. I liked the levels that have been formed and the general shape. The idea of the graffiti on the upstage wall and then the strong angles formed by the rest of the concrete. I feel this image is really able to show the atmosphere I intend to create.

After looking at this particular image, I intend to venture out into Nottingham itself in order to seek out areas that exist here like this one. That way I can design something with more resonance to the  Gunn Brothers and Nottingham itself.

VTP | PROJECTION MAPPING

This week we have been introduced into the idea of Projection Mapping by the projection designer; Barret. I think its an interesting concept to understand, and consider including within designs. The idea is that images can be projected onto any surface in sequences, giving another layer to any design.

Within this workshop we were introduced to a variety of programs that allow you to accurately map and cue the projections. We also had a go at it ourselves. We were taken to Barret’s studio, which happened to be a small chapel. The idea was to allow us to try out the software, and to light a specific place.

We were split down into small groups and told to attempt to project a moment from Hamlet. Our group chose to look at when Polonius is stabbed, in particular the idea of revealing and concealing.

We chose a small window in the chapel to project onto. This was down to the variety of surfaces we could map images onto. After deciding our backdrop we set off to source images and videos for the projection.

Our idea was to find textures that could depict Polonius through imagery. We thought about Polonius and how he had a family, came across as quite sly and deceptive, loyal to Claudius, has strong ambitions, traditional; the idea was to try to show this. From these key themes I thought that we could use more industrial features to show him as a straight laced and efficient character. I also liked the idea of the contrast between the modern industrial fittings and the period architecture of the Chapel.

To create the Projection we used Qlab. This program allows you to accurately map images onto the window and also to create a simple cue list. Within the cue list it also allows you to add auto cues, and timers to the sequence. I really enjoyed learning this new software, and solving the problems that it brought.

Our final piece:

Final Video

HAMLET | BREAKING THE SPACE

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.