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A Good Play for Set Design Class

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Daffey, Mar 24, 2009.

  1. Daffey

    Daffey Member

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    Hi guys,
    I'm just curious as to find any advice on a good script/play for a set design class? Preferably a one act play or something without too many scene changes (proscenium stage/no fly bars/very limited wings n backstage area). My lecturer leaves it to us to pick any script and we are suppose to come out with a design n a model for the play.

    Thanks.
     
  2. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    Most of the plays I've been involved with use multiple sets moving in and out from the wings or up and down. With your limitations something like that may not be practical. I do remember one play from high school though, Musical Comedy Murders Of....... (It's been a while). We built it to take place in a single set, a library if memory serves, but had some fun with practicals for all the murders. Our University's tech director/scenic designer also did Send Me A Tenor on a single set. It was a huge set though. Now that I think about it, I saw Grease done in front of a single backdrop somewhere.....multilevel if memory serves......

    Now, I've done a lot of shows with sets and backdrops on wagons. Scene changes consist of doing scene one, while presetting scene two on the backs of the wagon. Then spinning the wagons around to reveal scene two, and the running crew clearing scene one stuff and putting out scene three stuff on the "back" of the wagons while scene two is underway. It's a good way to get a couple different scene changes into a small space with limited wings.
     
  3. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Having just done that show, (you were thinking of Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, by John Bishop) I would agree that it would be a good show to do for a class. When we did it we had it set up as one set but three different areas (Library, Foyer, and a Study/Living area.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2009
  4. paradoxism

    paradoxism Member

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    By the sound of it you want a play that can show off your creativity with a minimum of resources - try taking a look at some of the John Godber works like Bouncers or Shakers - uses a large number of scenes but they all run into each other (with characters all being played by 4 actors doubling) so you need to use your imagination and look more at levels and non-descript set pieces to provide the scenery. Can't have big scene changes because there simply isn't time!

    You could try a classic like Of Mice and Men which doens't need a lot of space but can be very creative.

    Otherwise pick a single location play with an interesting location to recreate - try murder mysteries for example as they always seem to have interesting settings.

    Probably a good idea to look at what you're being assessed on too - pick a set that is going to tick lots of boxes for the assessor.

    Good luck!
     
  5. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Streetcar Named Desire. No real moving parts in the set, but you can talk a lot about how the set develops in terms of props throughout the play.
     
  6. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    My favorite (and the favorite of my professors) is Arcadia, by Tom Stoppard. It is a beautiful script and only has one set, but you will have to do period research and all that kind of stuff. It is a great read and a fun, interesting design.
     
  7. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Something I would have liked to have done is Sleuth by Anthony Shaffer. Multiple areas, but as it is a murder mystery, the set had to be one piece with the actors moving around it as the action is quick.

    Another favorite is Somehting Funny Happened on the Way to the Forum, a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart.

    Another thing to consider is that you don't need to have realism in your design (unless that is part of your assignment). I remember someone doing a certain Shakespearean play where the set looked like a Celtic Cross, with varying levels for where the different action would take place.

    You could also consider some of the Greek tragedies. Set design is completely up to you at that point.
     
  8. jessamarie6

    jessamarie6 Member

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    Or Greek Comedies. Arisophanes' "the Frogs", or "Lysistrata"

    In the end it's about what you want ot show off. Do you want to create a really imaginative abstract environment based on your crazy artistic ideas? Do you want to show off your research work and historical adaptation? Do you want to show your creative problem solving skills.
    If you get more specific I'm sure many of us could recommend some really wonderful scripts to consider.
     
  9. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    If you want something simple and a One Act, try something by David Ives! I've always loved his short one act comedies.
     
  10. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    How does a scenic design for an Edward Albee play differ from that of Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Neil Simon, or David Mamet? One of the most challenging designs ever is Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen.
     
  11. misterm

    misterm Active Member

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    If ya want something classic, Death of A Salesman works well. The Diviners is always a nice challenge as it requires a close coordination of set and light. The Boys Next Door gives you a basic unit with small, non-descript areas for the other scenes outside the apartment. Also try some of the Moliere comedies such The Imaginary Invalid or Tartuffe since they all have a single locale yet are fun and inventive.
     
  12. hsaunier

    hsaunier Active Member

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    We just did a one act play written by a high school senior called "All the Usual People". Set in a saloon in kind of a spagetti western era. Send me an email and I'll get you in touch with him.
     
  13. mrtrudeau23

    mrtrudeau23 Well-Known Member

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    our scenic design class last year used Glass Menagerie as our in class design project. it's simple, no set changes, and presents many different options with layouts.
     
  14. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    When I was teaching high school tech theater I used 3 scenes from Neil Simon's the good doctor as my set design final. I limited them to just the drowned man scene, the theater scene, and the office scene. It's fun to read, short because they only have to read three scenes, and yet very challenging as they have to figure how to make a dock with water, a theater, and an office all work on the same stage. Plus they have the fun of designing water effects.
     
  15. Teber

    Teber Member

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    I believe "The Glass Menagerie" would be a great choice for a class. - That or the great show of "you can't take it with you."
     
  16. Daffey

    Daffey Member

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    Thank you all for the responses. I think the main concern for me is to come up with good design for the class (duh! hehehe). I was dwelling on the play 'Waiting for Godot' but I'm afraid that it's too 'simple' for a set design class... The Glass Menagerie and Streetcar sounds good too. Will look into all the suggestions...

    Thank you everyone! I love this site!!! :)
     
  17. kiwitechgirl

    kiwitechgirl Well-Known Member

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    Arsenic and Old Lace is a great one - while it's a 3-act play, all 3 acts take place in one room and there are lots of challenging things called for in the script - a door to the cellar, a window seat to hide bodies in, a staircase which one of the characters can charge up, doors to the kitchen, hallway and outside - and the only changes needed are things like re-setting a table, the set doesn't have to move at all.
     
  18. codered11343

    codered11343 Member

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    Communicating Doors by Alan Ayckbourn

    My set design class had to do this show and we all loved it. Its a great, funny murder/time travel play that is great for beginning set designers, and even more experienced ones can find this one a challenge.

    Defiantly check it out!
     
  19. cvanp

    cvanp Active Member

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    Our scenic design classes are using Georg Büchner's unfinished play "Woyzeck".
     
  20. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    I'm a big fan of Irish theater and there is lots of one acts from them. Beyond Riders to the Sea, got stuff like the Glittering Gates, Goal Gates and Shadowy Waters. Glittering Gates especially would be fun as concept to do but there is lots of "Irish Theater" and it's edictive in reading.

    Lots and lots of one acts without scene changes built for a budget without having to reproduce a Victorian house.
     

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