Multiple shows, one space?


Active Member

My highschool usually does two plays a year, one smaller
one act for local and regional competitions, and one major
production. Well, this year as our "major production" we are
doing three one act plays. So basically, you come for a night
of one-acts. In past years I have helped out in multiple ways,
as well as being the lighting board op (not designer). I TD pretty
much EVERY other show the school does (concerts, etc), but the
plays are ALWAYS TD'd by a teacher. Well this year, our three
main drama teachers are each directing one of the one-acts.
They have offered me the position of TD for ALL three plays.
It's cool because they have NEVER trusted this to a student in
the entire school history :)

I'm sure I can handle it, so I will accept but what I want is a few
pointers on TDing three plays that will run in the same space one
right after the other, for a week. This means of course, that I have
to figure out a lighting plot that works for each different set, which
is what I'm concerned about. Here's what there is:

- Neil Simon's "Visitor from forest hills" (Hotel room w/ windows, day)
- "Heat Lightning" (Bus station, w/windows, dark and stormy night)
- "Final Dress Rehersal" (Empty stage)
(Sorry, I'm doing this from memory, I don't have the scripts yet)

And the equipment we have: (From memory)

-Auditorium, seating for 300 (approx, I think it's a little more)
-Stage: Standard Proscenium, 13m wide, 7.5m deep, and I don't really know how tall... I'd say about 6-8m to the top of the proscenium. It extends about 1.5m past the proscenium into the aud.
-3 lighting battons above the stage, 2 side bars and the catwalk.
-About 10 Source 4s, 7 3 channel cyc strips, and a whole bunch of
fresnels. 2 follow spots.
-3 computer controlled LED lights (think cyc light w/LEDs)
-It's possible to rent equipment if it's needed.

Any tips on making a lighting plot that accomodates all three

Any tips on how to build 2 different sets that can be assembled
and dissassembled in 10 minutes?

Any tips on how to simulate rain? (Two of the plays call for it)
I'm talking about rain you see through the windows, not on the
whole set.

Thanks a lot :)

PS-Showtime is in 2 months.


For the building of sets:

My school is known for "rolling sets". We build a large platform out of 2x4s and plywood, and then put it on wheels. These platforms can be rotated to display 2 different sets, one on each side of a wall. That way, if you have two different primary locations, it only takes a few seconds to change during a blackout.

If you build two similar sized sets on one of these, it will eliminate the need for complicated scene changes.

Good luck with your show(s)!
OK this is gona be pretty easy lighting wise. Even tho you are limited to a small number of fixtures. I dont know how deep ur stage is so you could stick to a 10 area plot. 5 down stage and 5 upstage. THis might not be enuough but thats what i would start out with. For these front light areas you would use your source fours. I personally do not like using stiplights but if it is completely nessesary , use it for back light. Next i would use your fressnels for back light. 2 per each area. (warm and cool) so 20 total. I hope im not going to far here. Any way i dont know how you would want to do sidelighting because i would never use a fressnel for sidelight. a source four is esential. So you would have 10 stage left(one for each area) then 10 stage right(one for each area) remember you always need a warm and cool for side and back light.

For that rain effect youd could use an elipsoidal behind the window. the window could be fake. (like a diffusion or something) then use a rotating gobo in the elipsoidal. they make special rain effect ones especially for this. you can rent one at ur local theatre supply store.

If i confused you at all please reply and ill be glad to help.


Well-Known Member
Ya, there is currently another thread going on about making rain and that might be worth looking inot.

As far as your sets, in the past (specifiically for "The Wiz" and "The Secrete Garden") we have used what we affectionatly call "The Triangles" they are basicly trianges of angle iron with caster wheels on each side. 3 big flats fit on each side of this triangle and can be turned to provide easy scene changes. The HUGE problem comes when we tried to get one or more (occasionaly all three) off stage, b/c they were so big, and we certainly dont have much off stage room, they BAIRLY fit behind our curtains and left NO room for movement back stage.

I have placed an old pic of our triangles here that shows two of the triangles during The Wiz's big entrance (the lighting really didnt show up in the pic, there were red lights behind his chair turning the smoke red, but it didnt get on the pic)) this was also the show where the stage crew (different then the tech crew) lost it and messed up posistioning all the triangles, but at least this lets you see two sides of the triangles.

[The picture will only be availble for a short while b/c of server restrictions and privacy issues]


Active Member
Ya, ellipsoidals will be the easiest for me to rent.
We use only source 4's on the side bars, and I
believe it is just s4s on the catwalk as well.

I like hans44's idea for double sided sets, that works best because we only really have 2 sets with major walls to deal with. I like the triangle idea also but we really don't have the space for that... considering that for one of the plays the stage must be empty.

As for the windows... one of the plays calls for an actor to climb out of the window into the rain... which
adds an interesting dimension to the whole thing.
"Heat Lightning" must be VERY atmospheric so I think I will try real water if at all possible to spray on the windows and get the droplets rolling down into a basin I should think. The rest can done with lights... at this
point I am leaning towards just a simple white backdrop behind each window that can be colored via either our LED lights, or maybe via an LCD projector which can then help simulate rain, as I doubt we will be able to get an intelligent light or rotating gobos.

Any ideas for lightning? The director of "Heat Lightning" has asked that the lightning flashes throughout the play (and I quote) "Blind the audience". I'm thinking I'll try and get some photo flashes that photographers use....


Active Member
alright I'll see what I can get, I don't know who we are renting from yet, but it's either:
PS, William F White, Westbury Showsystems, Westsun or Phase 4 so they will have something anyway.

What about hazers? We really want one for "Heat lightning", it will vastly improve the set (we think), but we need to make sure it doesn't leave any residue... the only one I know of is the Roscoe hazer. Any other ones that will work without oil based fluid?


Senior Team Emeritus
Premium Member
Ah’ that’s the difference between the TD proper and the TD handed the position. Excuse please this statement, but such ways to do it and options for a TD proper is part of why they are a TD.

On the set turn around, short of viewing the designers, and locking all designers in a room together while they negotiate and design, it’s a question of the specific design of each show while you coordinate what’s intent and needed verses what’s necessary but flexible in you own as TD solutions to the intent.

So Repertory plot it would seem sensible for a general design in giving individual shows a standard plot they can focus but not change, and a certain extent of specials each show can have either by way of inventory or rental out of their budget will be necessary. As a TD you can balance the designer requests in fixture placement, or as a Master Designer in being the TD, you can design your own plot for the shows - all of them and come up with one that will work functionally, than have the designers at least work with the equipment in position for providing light on subject with as much as you can offer in “specials” they can put where they want.

Seems sensible, otherwise you work on in seeing all plots in managing all three shows for similarities verses inventory and negotiate what is art and possible for the main part of it verses what is better in being frank with designer that if they want to move this basic plot, it’s on their own time when needed above what each is given.

You it would seem have a true TD role here and it’s a good thing. Beyond the artistic needs of a production you should attend the meetings of, you have to balance the needs of all verses what’s within budget, time allowed and what in better solution or not really possible but here is a other solution type of way. The TD position is the king tech person both as designer and person best at the tech. Wandering around the theater in shaking your head in a negative way, and slamming your office door out of expression after this walk at times is a statement necessary.

Again, I realize that in being chosen you won’t have all of this intent of chief for tech and senior for designers, some balance between shows on a technical way, but given your intent to give them artistically what they want is your task.

Good luck, and a fun job as long as it’s also in having the TD position that you also ensure what is done is safe. If you don’t know something, it’s your job to know and you had at best find it out in being correct also.

What is that commandment you need to be sufficient to live by? “The TD is never wrong, if you think he is wrong, you must have misunderstood him.”

P.S. Don't forget that as TD, you represent the space not do the design. You figure out the hot to at times for a design, and stay within budget but do not more than sugguest to a designer how to, or mandate how to work within. The TD proper is working for the theater and is not directly involved in the show beyond ensuring the designer gets what he or she wants, and stays within budget while upon design. And more so also represents the theater and it's production staff in making them do what is needed but what is best done rather than wasted time on.

You TD in a location not for a show persay. Your goal is to get the show up and running, but your intent is to ensure it won't break the budget for the next show, much less it can be achieved.

So if three shows is what you supervise. Don't design more than what's reasonable to all, more guide and present better solutions but get done what's possible and safe.

Users who are viewing this thread