Designing a set for a concert hall

John Roper

Member
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My school doesn’t have a theater, only a concert hall. I’m setting out to design a production of Songs for a New World and I’m really struggling with how to deal with the space.

- The stage is all shiny wood so it reflects light very easily
- there are no wings at all, just one normal door on the left (where the exit sign is) as well as a hidden door in the back wall to let the piano in and out
- the exit sign is very bright and on all the time
- Anything that gets set up on the stage needs to be easily moved before and after rehearsal because it is a multi use space

One idea I had was to set up an area on the stage that would act as its own self contained stage. Moveable flats, Add some curtains to allow entrances and exits through the doors without being seen, etc. I don’t know if anyone has experience dealing with a setup like this. Any pictures and examples of sets using a space like this would be appreciated.
 

MNicolai

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
My inclination is in these circumstances is to try to embrace the facility you have rather than attempt to cover it up. Strategically designed flats to cover up backstage entrances works but I don't think I would throw a curtain up unless there's a compelling artistic reason to. If anything, it would be flats around the perimeter of the space and dress the entrances up to look like they belong.

Audiences are very forgiving to the environment. If you block the show so everything seems deliberate and designed for that space, then nobody will care that it's in a concert hall. You can use gobos or projections to turn the acoustic paneling into scenery.

I wouldn't even worry about the exit sign. My preference is rather than to do scene changes in blackouts is to have the technical crew wear costumes and have each move happen strategically to lit to emphasize a different area of the stage rather than the moving scenery around in the dark. High schools notoriously teach us that scene changes should happen in blackouts -- but blackouts with the sounds of shuffling and scenery clunking are really just awkward interruptions to the story that remind the audience what they're watching is fake, performed by actors and presented by technicians.

As for the stage floor, it's not conducive to rolling scenery, but you can do a ground cloth where you lay muslin out in your scene shop or other open area (not on your nice wooden floor obviously) and paint it. Then you tape the bejeezus out of it to the stage floor so it's taut and gives you a stable, painted walking surface.

Ultimately you can go a long way through the use of props, flats, and very strategic lighting. What you choose to light, not light, or suggest a different reality to through the use of gobos that obscure it's a concert hall can go a long way.

Unless of course the acting is bad and the blocking is awful. Then go full-tilt theatrical because the audience won't forgive jack if they're not consumed by the actual performance.

The best advice I can give you is..."Design for the space you have -- not the space you wish you had."
 

almorton

Well-Known Member
Maybe set up some angled tormentors to create a little wing space and some entrances and exits. Light from the side through the gaps between the tormentors can work well for musical numbers.
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
View attachment 22430 My school doesn’t have a theater, only a concert hall. I’m setting out to design a production of Songs for a New World and I’m really struggling with how to deal with the space.

- The stage is all shiny wood so it reflects light very easily
- there are no wings at all, just one normal door on the left (where the exit sign is) as well as a hidden door in the back wall to let the piano in and out
- the exit sign is very bright and on all the time
- Anything that gets set up on the stage needs to be easily moved before and after rehearsal because it is a multi use space

One idea I had was to set up an area on the stage that would act as its own self contained stage. Moveable flats, Add some curtains to allow entrances and exits through the doors without being seen, etc. I don’t know if anyone has experience dealing with a setup like this. Any pictures and examples of sets using a space like this would be appreciated.
@John Roper Consider building periaktoi each with three different sides (sets) and three of the best 3 or 4 inch casters you can afford.
Place each caster as close to a corner (as far from center) as possible to achieve the best stability. Cut your bases as equilateral triangles and attach your flats outside the triangles 1/4" above floor level to hide your casters. Purchase casters that will be kind to your floor and not leave a collection of circles behind.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
@John Roper Consider building periaktoi each with three different sides (sets) and three of the best 3 or 4 inch casters you can afford.
Place each caster as close to a corner (as far from center) as possible to achieve the best stability. Cut your bases as equilateral triangles and attach your flats outside the triangles 1/4" above floor level to hide your casters. Purchase casters that will be kind to your floor and not leave a collection of circles behind.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard

Periaktoi... because Ron was there to build the first units!
 

JohnD

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia

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