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Dead Body Advice

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Jamyo, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. Jamyo

    Jamyo Member

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    We will be starting soon on Arsenic and Old Lace and was curious if anyone could offer advice about constructing a dead body. I am looking for something more realistic then material stuffed with cotton and something less expensive than ballistic gel - any suggestions?
    Thanks!
     
  2. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    When my high school did it they used - a real person!

    (no not a cadaver an actor acting)
     
  3. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    That's impossible, we know from Microsoft commercials that actors are not real people. :twisted:

    This may sound crazy but if there is anyway you can incorporate a big bladder of water, think a bunch of hot water bottles. Water, makes a great weight @ 8 pounds a gallon and since it'll be sloshing about < inside the bladders> it will make for a realistic " Dead Weight" look.
     
  4. WestlakeTech

    WestlakeTech Active Member

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    Not a bad idea, but if the "bladders" start leaking, it could be quite a mess.


    Thing about using an actor is breathing. Even if laying face-down it's hard to hide the rise and fall of the stomach and lungs.

    I'm sure there's a good solution out there somewhere. I just don't know if there are any cheaper than ballistics gel. ;)
     
  5. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    This has never been a problem for us in 75 years of doing living pictures. While our cast has to hold still, they are allowed to breath and blink. We do have the advantage of distance working for us. There is about 40 ft. between the front row and the proscenium. However, some of our other staging areas in the bowl are much closer to the audience, as close as 2 ft. Noticeable breathing has never been an issue.

    How far away is the audience in your venue? That will definitely be a factor in how noticeable the breathing is. Before you reject the idea of using a real person, consider suspension of disbelief. If you tell the audience that the person on stage is dead, the vast majority of them will accept it as "reality" on stage, even if they do see the rising and falling of the chest.
     
  6. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    What about renting a rescue dummy? I'm thinking more along the lines of what the fire department trains on than the CPR dummies that are rarely a whole person.

    If you have to construct one, I'd suggest that the extremities be "stuffed" with sand, the torso can be filled with something lighter. This would give the weight to the appendages and potentially give a realistic thud if dropped.
     
  7. What Rigger?

    What Rigger? I'm so fly....I Neverland.

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    Not exactly helpful, but still:
    "Friends help you move. REAL friends help you move bodies."
     
  8. venuetech

    venuetech Well-Known Member

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    I played a body once, very hard to find one position you can be comfortable in for 40 minutes.

    i recall an opera company recruted various well known persons to fill the dead man roll.
     
  9. philhaney

    philhaney CBMod CB Mods

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    [​IMG]

    I'm all for using a real body. The Laguna Playhouse did it in The Sly Fox.
     
  10. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Use a real person. Try to recruit well known students or faculty members to play the role for one night. Maybe you can turn it into a fundraiser. Donate enough money and Mr. Smith will play the dead body on Thursday. Lot's of fun you can have with it.
     
  11. erosing

    erosing The Royal Renaissance Man

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    You know there is one person I can think of that probably can give you the best advice about dead bodies, the coroner. But if you can't find one next to your local McDonalds, then try the police they probably deal with them often enough to give you some storage ideas.
     
  12. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    What if it's an actor that's not breathing ?
    Tell them to act dead, How long is your run? If it's only a week, they shouldn't start to smell too badly.
    :rolleyes:

    No seriously, I really liked the sand Idea. If you built arms and legs our of PVC pipe and articulated the joints, then filled the pipe with sand < mostly> then added padding to the pipes it might be quite believable.

    I know Ballistics Gel has gotten really popular due to CSI and Myth Busters, but in reality, it's; very hard to use, Very difficult to create a strong enough mold for, and very Very messy especially when it starts to melt.
     
  13. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    I also suggest using a real person. Very, erm... lifelike? That's what we did when we put on Arsenic. Just make sure your dead body doesn't miss his cue. "Hey! Where'd the body go? I could've swore I left him in the windowbox!" Yeahh... that made for a interesting little segment. :rolleyes:
     
  14. Jamyo

    Jamyo Member

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    Thanks for all the advice. I am looking for an alternative to using an actual person, I would like to use it as a project in stagecraft class for my students and seem to be having a creative brain block on the subject.
    Thanks for all the suggestions!
     
  15. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Sorry nothing that is a really good project comes to mind. I suppose you could make body parts from foam or paper mache but it's not likely to look better than pants stuffed with paper.
     
  16. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    I'll also throw in my vote for using a live person. In Jekyll and Hyde on Broadway, the character playing Jekyll dies right at the end, but you can clearly still see his chest moving even after he's supposedly dead. I never actually noticed this (I own the DVD) until someone else pointed out to me that he was still breathing.

    Watch from about 4:50 on - [media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kb1RtDLaE6c[/media]
     
  17. venuetech

    venuetech Well-Known Member

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    From a 1995 Dave Barry column

     
  18. Goph704

    Goph704 Active Member

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    I'm totally with Van on this. PVC piping, sand and then stuffing. Might I suggest tying off the stuffing in certian places to give it the sense of muscle mass and filling the "Belly" with a type of bladder. for the head you can use a medical service dummy but cover that face with a latex mold and then add hair as needed.
    for an Indy movie i did once a long time ago I made a latex mold of my own face and filled it with slightly dried clay. Underneath the latex my crew and I put a layer of stage blood and then we added makeup and a wig to the face. We put the head down on the floor with a costume on the piece so it looked like I had fallen down. Then I got to ( as the serial killer) take a machete The clay worked really well as a muscle substitute and when I struck the clay blood wash came out. It was very cathartic i suppose you could say.
    You might want to think about clay In plastic bags for stuffing and muscle mass if you get bored. Pillows and fabric never looked real to me. neither do flexi-joints.
    -Goph
     
  19. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    Am I the only one who first thought that you were looking for the disposal of dead bodies?

    However, when we use dead bodies, we just have people lie on a bed. And play dead.
     
  20. philhaney

    philhaney CBMod CB Mods

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    Friends help you move.

    Real friends help you move bodies. ;)
     

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