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Two-Story Set

Discussion in 'New Member Board' started by KenA, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. KenA

    KenA Member

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    We are planning on staging a production of the new musical "Little Women" and are considering building the set where the attic used so often in the story is built above the main part of the stage - in essence, we plan to build the entire house on stage. We will then use it as a unit set, changing the main floor to match different locations, lighting the attic only when it is being used.
    Our space doesn't have a "stage" proper - it is actually a lecture hall with a very tall ceiling. Three quarters of the audience looks down on the actors for every performance. This may be the first time they can look straight ahead at the performers.
    Has anyone gone about designing a two story set and can give me some advice? Safety is paramount, but it needs to look good and be functional as well. (And we have very little budget - working on donations from local businesses.)
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    The best way to go is to keep to keep the second story from not having a 12" thick floor is to do a steel box truss type floor on the second floor. How little money are we talking here? If you do not have the money to really do it right, you might not want to do it at all. Its one thing to raise a platform 3' and be able to brace the crap out of it. Its a lot harder to build 9' in the air and not have room for a lot of bracing. Go steel if you can, if you can't, there are other options but they get a bit cumbersome. Having a 2x12 header on stage isn't the prettiest of things.
     
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  3. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    When I go into work tomorrow I'll forawrd you a drawing of a set we did for Assassins. You might be able to adapt it realtively easily. Metal vs stick framing really depands on budget, building and ability, If you have the budget you can go either way. If you don't have the building facilities or tools for metal , tooling up can be exspenive. Last but not least how much stick framing vs metal expirience do you have ?
     
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  4. KenA

    KenA Member

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    I have never used metal framing. The budget is about $1000 and was planning on seeking donations from a couple supportive lumber companies to help with the expenses.
    I would love to see any plans you would be willing to share - Thanks!
    Ken Ahlberg
    Hermantown High School
    Hermantown, Minnesota
     
  5. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    How big do you want the second story to be? Do you have any stock platforms/triscuits...? How many support braces and how far apart do you want them?
     
  6. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    So I said I'd post something. Here's a gp view of our set for assassins. look through the layers to get color codeing for the different levels. Basically the bottom platform was supported by pony walls. The walls of each "cell" were true stud walls. There was a stud wall that ran the entire length of the upper deck along the upstage wall. All the platforms in this show were typical 2x4 framed 4x8's . the upper deck had to support the entire band, along with a rolling computer rack that held 3 servers and all the midi junk. Needless to say , a lot of weight. with some creative application of strategic framming I believe you could eliminate several of the lower cell walls and still be left with plenty of load-bearing potential on the upperdeck. I hope seeing these can inspire you a bit. Remember you're not framming a house. Although Building Code might say 2x12 minimum for a span of "x" Check the actual load specs. Its possible you could get away with a 2x8 or 2x6. Be careful but remember your'e not building a real house. Don't hesitate to ask any questions!
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2008
  7. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Just for reference - the lighting designer is going to try to strangle you. And if you are the LD...think for a sec. Where's the downlight gonna come from? it's sometimes OK to use a practical, but it's kinda hard to get everything lit well enough. Your decision may have already been made, but this is something that people usually don't think about when they make two story sets.
     
  8. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    It's called a challenge ! :twisted:
     
  9. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    We just had to do a show with an attic above it. Luckily, it was a 3/4 house, so we could light from center and 45 degrees to either side. It worked ok...but we really did ramp up the bulbs in the chandelier - 6 A-type bulbs (can't remember wattage off the top of my head, but 25 or so sounds right - instead of the usual 15 watters that this fixture had...we went right up to the wattage limit).
     
  10. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    Just out of curiosity, who does one deal with the open edge of the second story, to keep someone from falling 8 to 10 feet? Is a railing installed, or is it deep enough to keep people away from the edge?


    Joe
     
  11. tenor_singer

    tenor_singer Active Member

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    I did Little Women several years ago and here's what I did. I purchased a 40' x 15' scrim (my stage at that time was only 14 1/2 ' high. I used the scrim as the back wall of the living room and then built a higher scene behind it that was the attic. The raised scene was constructed on some old band risers (4' x 8' reinforced risers) clamped together into a 16' x 12' stage. I then built the bedroom and the small cubby where Joe goes to write on that. Whenever the action went form the downstairs to the upstairs, I just turned off the wash lighting on the scrim and vwalla... you could see the "attic" whild the set in front was dark (or dim if there were simultaneous scenes... like when the one girl was dying in bed and Joe was sitting on the davenport in the living room). I also constructed free-standing wainscottinng to make the back wall appear more like a wall and not a hanging scrim (plus it hid some floor lighting that we had to use to turn the scrim opaque).

    I am currently digging through my pictures to find a copy, but am having no luck.

    Feel free to PM with any further questions.

    Good luck! It is a great show!

    Tenor.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2007

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