Thursday, August 9, 2012

Spoiler! Construction Drawings

A helpful stage manager was able to scan my construction drawings for a show called Or... so I'm taking this rare chance to show you what the full Builder's Drawings for a small, simple set look like, even though these particular drawings are a bit unusual.

The set - well, setS - consist of two locations: a jail cell circa 1670 or so and the main room of writer Aphra Behn's (rather nice) apartment.

The jail will be represented just by the writer's table and chair plus one side of a tiny wagon with a jail door.  The apartment will get two whole walls, the jail wagon spun round to reveal a fancy wardrobe, and rather more furniture.  Construction will be pretty simple: standard 4' x 8' wall flats - some with doors.  Even the little 4' x 4' wagon will be built using standard flats.  So the trickiest part of the build will be neatly adding trim and some fabric wall covering.

As for the drawings...  I like to draw at a small format - 11" x 17" - because I can easily photocopy that size.  Even when I can't find 11" x 17" paper, I can copy half a sheet at a time onto standard 8 1/2" x 11" paper.

So, here's what simple build drawings for a simple theater set look like, at least as I approach it:

This is drawing sheet #1 - the plan.  There's no dimensioning on this (unheard of!) because in this theater the existing columns will tell us exactly where the walls have to go.  Besides, I'll be there on Load-In day to point and wave my arms.  Because this set is built using only standard flat sizes, I just noted which size (4') at each panel.  Normally there'd be bunches o' numbers to define what goes where.

And this is sheet #2 - small scale wall elevations and then large scale details of the little jail/wardrobe wagon.  A big hairy note describes the types of trim I want to use...  

Because we'll be using existing (scrounged) trim, I didn't pick exact model numbers from a catalogue, but instead gave guidelines for selecting from stock.  I'm sure there'll be some horse-trading along the lines of: "We have 24' of this kind of molding, but only 10' or this other, so let's use this here and that..."

And sheet #3 - shows a large scale elevation (vertical view) of the folding screen and my first design sketch of the full set, which includes the screen and wardrobe in place.  

(This is a color sketch actually, but I have to leave some surprise for Opening, don't I?  Come see the show!  Or, by Echo Theatre at the Bath House Cultural Center in Dallas.)

Small as these drawings are and fast (if I say it myself) as I am as a draftsman, these construction drawings took a surprisingly long time to draw... mainly 'cause ya design as ya draw.  

Thinking.  So sloooow.

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