Each play needs a Set Designer, to create the three-dimensional picture described within the play…..or even sketched on the last page of a script.
Together with the Director, the Set Designer produces the building blocks amongst which the actors perform. Starting with an idea/sketch, then building a model (however primitive), the designer brings the stage to life. He/she dictates the style of play, the setting, the colours, the dressing of the set, and together with the Wardrobes, Props, Lighting, and Effects departments' input, helps the actors/directors complete a play that will enthrall an audience.
Bingley Little Theatre performs EIGHT plays per season……one roughly every six weeks. Ideally we need one Set Designer per play, although some designers enjoy it so much they willingly do 2 or 3.
Obviously we know months in advance of a performance what plays have been chosen, and therefore the Set Designer is able to dictate his own pace of work/involvement…although the six weeks prior to the play will need hands-on, at least 2 nights per week.
Do you feel you could create a set or help to. There are at least 5 workers needed to one set-designer. Would you like to work alongside other creative people to show us how its done or learn from those of us who think they know ??? Just turn up any Monday night (not play week) at 7:30pm and there will be people there to welcome you and put you to work.
THEN COME AND JOIN US...
Spider’s Web – Set Design “First In, Last Out”
Or what actually happens to produce the brilliant sets that complement the plays.
With the ending of Spider’s Web, another set has been and gone. Most people’s experience of the set
is from when the curtains open at the start of the production to when they close at the end. However, a lot
of hard work is involved to set the scene for those 2½ hours.
The role of Set Designer is open to all although it is usually one of the Workshop team. As Set
Designer for Spider’s Web, my first task was to read through the script to determine the set requirements.
An indication of a set layout was given in the script but this was based on a West End stage production.
The first challenge was how to adapt this to fit the smaller stage of Bingley Arts Centre!
An outline of the set was developed. This was discussed with the Director, David Templeton to see
how he wanted to present the production. We agreed the play should take place in the drawing room of a
Georgian manor house, or similar. Although the play is set in the 1950s, the decoration needed to be of an
earlier period and of an opulent appearance to reflect the previous ownership of the property. The working
features and finish details of the set were also discussed. With the set requirements agreed, the layout
was finalised and a scale model produced.
Eight weeks before the start of the play, a production meeting was held between the Director and the
members of the backstage team. At this meeting, the numerous aspects of the production were discussed.
The props / set dressing and the lighting were particularly influenced by, and had an impact upon, the set
The set design aimed to use as many standard items within the workshop as possible. However, some
required building from scratch and specific designs were produced for these. To assist the construction, a
build programme and painting schedule were developed.
I was also the Set Foreman supervising the set build in the workshop. The hard-working workshop
team, who are involved with every BLT production, produced the full-size set components. A significant
amount of time was involved with some of the feature items, such as, the secret door and the motifs above
In the week before the production, access to the Bingley Arts Centre was gained. The workshop team
(usually the first on stage) moved the set into position. The fixtures and fittings were added and doors
checked to ensure they operated correctly. Particular attention had to be paid to the secret door to ensure
it wasn’t obvious to the audience until the appropriate time in the play. During this time, the set was also
dressed, key furniture items brought in and set lighting installed. After the set had been fully constructed, I
remained “on call” during the production run in case any running repairs to the set were required
(fortunately they weren’t).
This was not the end of the workshop team’s involvement. On the last night of the production, after the
curtains had closed for the final time, the set was then “struck” to ensure the stage was clear before the
midnight deadline. As a result, the workshop members were some of the last people on stage as part of
The roles of the Set Designer and Set Foreman are both challenging and rewarding. However, nothing
could be achieved without the dedicated workshop team and their hard work is very much appreciated. I
would also like to thank Yvonne Templeton and Wendy Broadbent for doing a fantastic job with the
props and set dressing and, similarly to Steven Robson and Richard Thompson for their lighting
expertise. Their input helped provide the finishing touches to the set and showed it at its best.
As you can see, there is much involved in getting a set onto the stage. From the comments received, I
know many people who saw it appreciated the final product. If having read this you are interested in
becoming involved in the workshop, or any of the other backstage departments, please speak to Jonathan
Scott, Tony Leach or myself. BLT can never have too many volunteers – in fact, we thrive on it!
Peter D. Down