Thursday, July 5, 2012

Art as set Dressing

Apologies for the scarce posts lately - the combination of work and summer holidays makes it more difficult than ever to find blogging time.

Today, however, I'll give you a peek at what's happening off stage before it appears onstage:


My up-coming set for Uptown Players' next show, The Divine Sister, has two locations that share a turntable - St. Veronica's Catholic School (and convent) and a rich woman's living room.  And for that living room, I need art on the walls.

Not just art though.  The story is that her late husband was a naturalist and traveler, so some of what goes up on the wall will be dead animal heads etc.  So far I've borrowed a sad collection of taxidermy: a one-eyed deer head, a set of antlers, a stuffed fish, and a molting duck.  (There are duck feathers in my car now.  All over my car.)  I need to make a couple picture frames filled with a butterfly collection... once I find suitable frames.  But I do already have a collection of matching gold frames (incredibly cheap dollar store ones), which I will fill with reproductions of Audubon bird paintings.

Many shows require art chosen to illustrate a character's biography or interests.

I've been creating a ton of set art lately, including a whole collection of faux Picasso and Miro prints for the rich playboy's apartment in Boeing, Boeing, creating faux Broadway show posters for the theater producer's office in Mistakes Were Made, and framing a family gallery of photos for Crimes of the Heart.

A set designer (and/or set dresser if lucky enough to have one) spends a lot of time thinking about what this art should be... and an even longer time finding and then buying or copying images, photo-copying these into usable sizes, finding frames, and then framing and hanging it all.  As anyone who has framed even a diploma lately knows, framing art can be hugely expensive.  Remember that theater has no real budget for that!  The designer has to borrow, thrift shop, and fake that pricey framing.  And, obviously, public domain images are the way to go, for all sorts of legal reasons.

It gets tricky.

Audubon flamingo - public domain image.

No comments:

Post a Comment