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Over the summer I worked on a production of the musical Annie. It was a great show by the way put on by the Glenview Theater Guild. There is a shanty town in Annie and I was put in charge of creating said shanty. I thought about this for a while and at first we were going to create it out of ply wood and paint it to look old and whatnot. Then we came up with a better idea, why not actually build one? We went dumpster diving for the day and found about 15 skids like they use for shipping. We made wooden frames on wagons so they could be moved. We then disassembled the skids into planks and nailed them up onto the frames, attached some old stage doors (which we beat with chains first to make them look old) and then painted the whole thing with a nice coat of dirt water. LOL They looked excellent. So if you ever need to make something look really old and disgusting, my advice is, don’t try and fake it, just do it. You will get a much better response and its more fun too.

That's is a great trick.. beating the wood with chains... adding texture to scenery is a very important and often-overlooked technique.

Does anybody else know of some unique ways to create texture onstage?
Beating the wood with chains is an old furniture making trick for antiquing. The effect all depends on the distance from the stage to the audience. From 20 to 30 feet an audience member can really see any flaws smaller then 1/8 of a inch. If the audience is up close and personal like in a Black-Box or Lab theater then the chains are the way to go. But if the house is 20 to thirty feet from the stage or the item, then just using paint should suffice.

Also spattering the object will complemetary colors will help the Lighting Designer bring the item to life as well. Just some thoughts.

Michael :D
i'm glad i'm not the only one that has used the feather duster idea. we used feather dusters and 3 different colors of paint to make carpeting for our performance of columbo. audience members actually had to walk up to the stage and take a close look at the floor to realize it wasn't carpeting.
He he, that was a lot of fun wasn't it Bill? I mean, if you gonna build a shanty, why not go all the way. Anyways if was fun having a little preview of the additions on the school, as we prowled the hallways for trash. And that mud and water paint really did the trick.

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