In January 2018 I took part in a module called Theatre Technologies in my first year which was an introduction to the practical side of scenography. We had the final task of presenting an event that evidences learned practices over the duration of the module focusing on lighting, sound, set etc. We established the idea of a fairy garden as the basis of our presentation, working on singular projects and collaborated together as a whole event that could be opened to a public or invited audience.
When we were told that we were building a garden for our project I wanted to build a bridge, I initially looked on Pinterest and the bridges around my area for inspiration. When I had an idea of the style of bridge I wanted so I was taught how to do a technical drawing, using a 1:25 scale. Once this technical drawing was done I could make a cutting list which would be the list of materials that we used to build the bridge itself. A problem we had was that we really needed to save money on this piece, so we used pallet wood for the decoration as it is cheaply found, this saved us around fifty pounds. One of our technical team helped me with my design because we found the design worked better with a curved edge rather than a trapezium shape as well as making the bridge length from 2500mm to 2000mm. If I were to build this bridge again I would have also painted the pallet wood to tie the whole bridge together.
Skills I learnt from building this bridge were:
- How to use tools such as a drill (interchanging between different drill bits), a jigsaw, a handsaw as well as a hammer.
- Choosing the best design to fit a brief to a budget.
- Troubleshooting to make the bridge weight bearing, we added blocks that were staggered underneath the sheet wood to allow the bridge to hold the weight of two people.
- Collaboration on a project and taking constructive criticism from others to improve my design.
- Painting a realistic stained wood onto the sides and poles.
We used qwash lights to mix the colours that we wanted, to get the intended shade of blue so that we could distinguish between the tree and the waterfall. These set of eight lights were dotted around the project so that we could isolate lighting in different areas, such as, the river, the tree and the mushrooms. These qwash lights were used mainly as backlighting as you can see in the picture here.
We used bubble wrap as well as a canvas floor cloth to imply the river and to add multiple dimensions for when the light hit different parts of the river from the grid, although, the backlighting from the qwash lights gave added texture to this.
We made the river out of pushed up umbrellas to give it more of a flowing and diverse motion. The different heights of the metal tips from the umbrellas give the implication of ripples in the water for a wave like surface.
Our idea of making the river originate from the roots of the tree came from the initial thought of the waterfall and tree being together on the same aluminium rigging which was upstage right of the project. Therefore the river looks like one of the tree roots in specific lighting states, such as, during the beginning of the piece when we used light to isolate different elements; this helped to blend in the river when the projection was more like a tree. The use of the river was also to transition between the tree and the bridge so that the audience’s eyes would follow the lighting.
We used canvas as a flooring to blend the materials of the tree used down into the ground, river and astro turf . We had a mix of floor lights, backlights and rigged lights from the studios grid. The lighting used picked out different areas of the garden, we used QLab to cue our lighting. Our first five minutes of the performance was only using one light at a time to allow the audience to explore the space as they follow the lights, this picked out elements of the garden such as the branches of the tree which to me were very effective as it causes you to imagine you are looking at a real tree and the branches gave good shadows on the material on the background. The lighting under the bridge was a darker blue than the river to give the desired effect of a shadow from the bridge, this was done by an LED light being under the bridge so we could mix the lighting on the desk and record its cue.
I collaborated with Zoë on this part of the project to help her make her idea of origami swans that go under and over the bridge. We followed a youtube tutorial on how to fold the swans correctly then used painting techniques that we had learnt in the weeks previous to building the final piece. After some experimentation we used the painting technique called ‘splattering’.
When talking to the technicians about the project they suggested we use projection mapping to transform the tree into a waterfall so that all the elements came together within the collaborative project. We used truss as the centre of the tree and branched out with steel poles to give it a strong base as well as shape to the tree. We used birdy lights to backlight the tree to give it a warm glow when rest of the lighting was out so that the tree was the main focus in the first five minutes of the performance. Real branches were rigged to the grid to make the tree more lifelike and to cast shadows of branches onto the canvas making the illusion of being more branches than there actually were.
Overall, as my first practical presentation for my degree I enjoyed every minute of this module and it remains to be my favourite module of university.