Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tech Tip: Make a Nice Package

This weeks Tech Tip is something I see all the time. The play is a great hit with solid writing, music, and professional acting. But the set looks like it was made by a bunch of elementary school kids. The set's all wobbly, the paint is splotchy, things are held together by duct tape and hanging from the ceiling by shoestrings. You have great actors doing your show and making the big bucks but your set just doesn't match that quality.

There are several reasons why this happens just a few are...

  • Not enough money to buy quality equipment or materials.
  • Not enough people to get the job done right.
  • Not enough time to make everything right.
The other problem is that people just focus more on the acting and the music than they do the lights, the sound, or the set. They know that they need it but they feel it just has to be standing. As long as it's there you get extra points. But it can make you look pretty amateurish. And when you look like amateurs people treat you like amateurs. Especially people who would be writing checks or recommending people to see your shows. Here are some easy points that will help the not-so-tech-savvy make their set into a "nice package".

  • If it wobbles or shifts when you walk on it/touch it/go anywhere near it fix it. 
  • Anything that looks like raw wood/fabric/chain/anything the audience shouldn't see should be painted black. Or it can be hidden behind some kind of black fabric. Black=Invisible in the theatre world.
  • All the audience really needs in the lighting world is lights is a full stage, zones, and blackouts. These can shift the play in the audience's mind to something else. Practical lights (candles, flashlights, lamps, headlights,etc.) help in the situations where professional lighting isn't a possibility. At any department store you can find cheap lighting fixtures that will get lots of light on the stage. Just make sure these things can be dressed up so that they don't look cheezy. 
Remember. The audience doesn't know a lot about what is done "right" in the theatre. But they CAN pick out a shoddy piece of work any day. All you have to do is dress it up nice.

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