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Scene Design: Death of a Salesman

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by Proto, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. Proto

    Proto Member

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    I'm in a Scene Design class in school, and I'm having a little trouble coming up with an idea for a project. I have to come up with a unit set model for Death of a Salesman. My issue is that with all of Willy's flashbacks, there are a lot of locations to cover. Should I use a rotating set? Or maybe have a second floor to Willy's house so that I can use it for multiple locations? Does anybody have any suggestions?
     
  2. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    It is kind of an unwritten (I think) CB policy that we try not to give answers to questions like "How should I design X?" Especially if this is for a class, using an idea given to you by another person could be considered by your professors as plagiarism. One of the goals of design classes (and theatre) is to get you to think of your own ideas and come up with creative solutions to issues.

    That being said, you don't have to think literally. You don't have to show the audience every scene in technicolor. They will believe you if you tell them they are somewhere else, you don't have to have every location drawn out. Maybe it is a lighting thing? Think "outside the box" of your unit set.
     
    Proto and (deleted member) like this.
  3. Proto

    Proto Member

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    I'm sorry, I'm not trying to plagiarize, I was just hoping that someone could point me in the right direction. Your input did help though, thanks. I could cover Willy's flashbacks with lighting. I was thinking about it too much.
     
  4. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    No worries, we know that you are not trying to plagiarize, we just try to encourage new creative ideas!
     
  5. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    Other common methods are, the use of hand props to link each scene and video images, however I would suggest that video is best used as a "soft" image on a curtain or through a window, rather than a hard image on a screen behind the actor
    Copying one person is plagiarism, copying 10 people is research.
     
  6. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    A second story is almost mandatory, for the boys' bedroom. The original 1949 production, with "bleed-though" scrim walls, was designed by Jo Mielziner. He discusses that the boys go to bed in one scene, and the beds are actually elevators which lower them so they can quickly do a costume change and appear outside for another.
    Designing for the Theatre, Jo Mielziner. Bramhall House, 1965.
    The production made extensive use of projections, both painted slides and gobos, including my favorite, Jungle Leaf, GAM#217.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    http://www.wfu.edu/theatre/resources/mielzinerf/miel40.htm

    Note that I am in no way suggesting that the production must, or even should, be done this way.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2014
  7. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Well said and add to that the concept of breaking from the picture (reality) during these moments - perhaps going down stage or off to his own world.

    Never designed but did work one, for that it was more about platform levels with half walls to create scene but not full walls. Than and I don't remember, perhaps projection above and beyond. But in saying so, remember part of the statement of the play - old days so going too high tech in conveying image and or conveying when he was slipping into the past shouldn't seem as if modern persay. Often it would only be done with upstaging reality and the actor coming down stage with lighting fading out reality for a while in perhaps spotlighting him or something.

    For scenery, perhaps not as much a problem for you in locating these side scenes as with working with LX and sound designers in giving Willy and others perhaps places to go - perhaps not even just one place to go but in breaking from the reality of the set.

    Don't know if of any help and in only offering concepts but certainly not how to do it.

     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2009
  8. Proto

    Proto Member

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    Thanks for the help! I started working on it a while ago, and everyone's input has helped.:mrgreen: Before I made this thread, I was thinking about it too hard. I was trying to fit in all of the places in the show (including flashbacks), when I could just use a change in lighting, and the space downstage. It's not quite done yet, but I'm working in it, and it's looking good so far.
     
  9. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    When we read the play in English class, our teacher was telling us about how they had a two level prop with the beds on top and the kitchen area on the bottom. There was a slide on the back part of the set that couldn't be seen from the house so they would quickly slide unseen down the slide and enter into the kitchen.
     
  10. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Proto, I'm glad that earlier advice helped. I think an issue with a lot of young designers is "thinking too literally." Don't get me wrong, there is a time and place for literal interpretations, but "Death..." is such a great script it really opens itself up to a ton of interpretation. Heck you could do it on a bare stage with nothing but rehearsal cubes, a couple of really minor set peices , like a frig, clothes line etc, and a lot of lights.

    I'd be interested to see what you come up with in the end.
     
  11. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    I know this thread is probably long dead. But like our design profs told us in school, do your research, see what others have done with the show. The best ideas have most likely already been done (unless you are doing a new work, in which case they have been generically done somewhere else as well), so start with something you saw somewhere and make it your own.

    Mike
     

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