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I have some questions

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by jonhirsh, Jan 28, 2005.

  1. jonhirsh

    jonhirsh Active Member

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    I see alot of theatre and i am just wondering. Why we as designers when we are trying to make a set fit a period for example we are doing a show that takes place in the early 1900's we make everything old and taterd. is it because we think wow that was a long time ago everthing from then is dusty and old. But was it not the cloths they wore way back then brand new? werent they new to them thus clean (minus normal wear and tear off everday life) why do we feel the need to make things dusty and use a cheese grater to age it? and mabey things were dirty back then but they still had a mop or a broom? why is every "aged" set always including a floor cloth that is dusty and dirty?

    Just a question Posed?

    Jon Hirsh
     
  2. propmonkey

    propmonkey Well-Known Member

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    IMO the majority of people wouldnt realize this.
     
  3. ricc0luke

    ricc0luke Active Member

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    Because in the 1900's they did not live the same way we do today. Back them they did not have vaccum cleaners, windex, pledge, and air filters on their furnaces and air conditioners. The floors were just a few boards seperateing them from the dirt ground- there was no vapor barrier- dust could come right up through the floor. Windows were drafty and doors did not have a tight seal. In the 1900's they did not take showers every day. You must think of the way people lived. Even if a house were brand new back then, chances are your house is still cleaner. Only the super rich had the spotless homes with marble floors.
     
  4. propmonkey

    propmonkey Well-Known Member

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    we do exaggerate the dirt and grim and such, just because something isnt spotless doesnt make it obviviously dirty. of course they didnt have the sanitary products we have today but they didnt have dirt everywhere.
     
  5. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    first off,we always exaggerate things to tear the audience's attention away from other things we do not want them to concentrate on,example: stage makeup is much more makeup than the normal person would ever contemplate using!(hopefully)
     
  6. jonhirsh

    jonhirsh Active Member

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    Even if they didnt have the products to keep there house "clean" Materials would still be new for example i saw a show where one charecter is given a pair of new pants for his birthday. he takes them out of the wraping and it looks like the art director took a cheese grator to them and hacked them apart with scisors. evan the poor back then when they bought and new pair of pants even cheep ones to buy them without holes.

    Sory i just dont get it

    Jon Hirsh
     
  7. ccfan213

    ccfan213 Active Member

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    cause no one but the techies thinks about that.... the audience overlooks small illogical things, they are concentrating on the plot. when i see a show with my friends i comment on the lighting, i noticed that in wicked for the "wicked witch" there was a green spotlight or intelligent following her and for the "good witch" there was a white one. logically, there is no green light in nature, and my friends didnt notice this lighting, but I did. techs look at stuff like old tattered sets and think about it enough to notice how illogical it may be, but to an audience that isnt concentrating on the set it just sends the message that it is old.
     
  8. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Again AVKid amongst others after got the point of seperating in design realism from the audience's association of what will have been the past.

    Vacuums etc.? Perhaps not but a good broom will sweep a rug just as well, and there was more intent to do so often. Perhaps just a few pair of clothes, but ever so much more intent to keep them fresh and looking good. Perhaps as if a magic trick, a good hat with fresh flowers will distract that the dress is a little more faded and out of current fashion, but still intent perhaps back than was just as much as intent now I would expect.

    But what in your audience in having been raised with watching I Love Lucy expect of a play set in the 1950's as opposed to the realism that your grandmother will have lived? In conveying a stage picture, and very much dependant upon the director's intent, one could present a museum piece realism or something that is more = words loose me, presentational/stylistic. Both have advantages, and often the middle ground between the two under normal conditions will be useful. Just as you don't need to show everything that will have been in a room, more represent to convey an idea, the holes or dust, while not always accurate might convey to the viewers in associating with it a picture.

    In one play, I used some incandescent plano convex lights that gave a very grainy as if photo quality amber directional and shadowy light. Can one say old west even if only 10' from an audience? Ambers and black and white is how a modern audience sees the past, ofen not vivid and fluorescent types of vivid colors. Might have been the case back than that colors and dyes just popped, but would one expect a Isben play to have such colors today? Back than perhaps, but today? Instead one might use the more muted drab colors to convey more of the conditions and setting as we might view them today. Here is a trapped women by the culture of the day. Even if she had fresh flowers in her hat, in not making them "pop" it still has an effect upon the audience in that while she might be proud of her new hat, it still is less than optimum for her and in general.

    This being the backdrop both somewhat out of accuracy, and out of what helps convey the intent you are designing to help the audience see it. Yes you can do a museum piece, but would the audience recognize the intent of doing this? Much less would it detract perhaps from both the intent than and the intent of today?
     
  9. Radman

    Radman Well-Known Member

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    I've done a couple shows with a director who no matter what sets his plays in the 70's! And they turn out great.

    For kansas in wiz/oz all the frontlight was rx99 chocolate (in borrowed s4's) and the costumer coordinated the costumes so they were sepia. The set too was sepia. There was actually a cloth covering the whole apron thet was muddy brown and velcroed in place. (It was removed during the tornado during a very quick blackout.) So everything was sepia and it gave the whole place a black and white look. It really was convincing.
     
  10. darkfield

    darkfield Member

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    Yes, it is a silly thing that is often done without thinking.

    Sometimes, maybe it might be done with thinking. Scenery Style (capital S), motivating factors within the script (social station depicted, location cues, dramatic or pscyhological effect), and so on.

    You'll see the same thing done in medival period settings: A piece of parchement is needed as a prop, so a lot of work ends up going into creating this tattered yellow-brown parchment (soak it in tea). Of course the prop in the setting of the play isn't hundreds of years old and wouldn't look like that.

    Everything "back then" wasn't always dirty. There was a lot more dirt, but there was a lot more cleaning going on. And gloves, coats, hats were worn for a reason.

    You can have whole other arguments about whether the audience recognizes whether these things or other details are accurate, but I think all the details add up and when you get them right really are effective. For those who don't believe the audence notices anything, why do anything at all?
     

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