Crew Chief Theresa talks about her experience transforming a Victorian drawing room into Santa’s home – a gorgeous log cabin!
I have been helping with set construction for the last few productions, I really enjoy taking part, it is exciting to see an empty stage become, in the last instance, Lord Arthur Savile’s Drawing Room. You can learn new skills, not only construction and painting, but also how to translate the ideas of the author in the script to the physical stage space.
After having a little experience with the Progressive Players and with a previous group I was with, I took a leap and volunteered to be Crew Chief for the additional production of The Elf Who Saved Santa. The team are experienced and supportive, making my experience enjoyable and fulfilling. There was less than three weeks between Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and The Elf Who Saved Santa, sets have to be constructed in way to allow time for casts to get to know the set, where the doors, windows and furniture are. So how would we proceed? On creating a set, the designer must read the script, and interpret what the author wanted. In the case of The Elf, we had the author at hand, Marian Walker. We had the usual production meeting. This is where the director, gets together together with the set building team, props, lights and wardrobe to confirm what is required. We looked at the set for Lord Arthur and the first to mention that we could use it for The Elf, was Lorna. It was agreed that with a few tweaks we could. At the back of the set, (upstage), there were double doors, as the fireplace is the focus of the play, the best place would be exactly where the doors were, so that would be the first change. The doors were removed and the top 18 inches or so was blocked in and a box behind the wall was created to make the fireplace. The original set had one door, stage right, The Elf script called for two doors, another stage left. There was a window stage left, change the window to a door, but should Santa’s house not also have a window. A solid flat was removed and the window flat was moved downstage, this left space for another door flat to be inserted. This meant that the “walls” of the set were in place.
The set then needed to look like Santa’s house not Lord Arthur’s drawing room, Marian wanted the look of a log cabin. All the skirtings and door trims had been removed. The walls were magnolia, the lower part was freshened and the upper part painted to look like logs with a dark top which “lowers” the “ceiling” to make the room cosy. To continue the log cabin effect two doors were dressed to look like barn doors, they were painted brown as was the window. We dressed the fireplace to look like stone and to finish it a mantelpiece was added, also painted brown bringing the overall effect together. The set was then ready for furniture and props.
This is where the Props team take over and we are really excited to see what they come up with to bring those finishing touches to the set and really make it Santa’s home.