Design and execution of stage settings – Rhinegold Publishing

Design and execution of stage settings


Having recently had a candidate receive full marks for all aspects of his design work for Unit 4 this year, I thought it might be useful to share the process he went through as an approach to this option, which is discouraged in many centres due to the complex nature of the task, the time commitment needed and the expense, although that will depend on the play chosen.

The essay and suggested work plan featured in this scheme follows his path through the process, and photographs of his work and extracts from his portfolio can be found in the supporting material, as well as at the end of this scheme. I must therefore fully acknowledge the work of Rory Ford, the student referred to, in putting this article together. He had been an excellent stage manager of our most recent school production, so I knew he was reasonably well organised and pushed himself hard.

Combining creativity with deadlines is so often what theatre comes down to, and designers are often the most awkward when pushed. Design and execution of stage settings is clearly not an option for non-actors merely because they don’t want to act, as it requires very specific skills and a great deal of self-motivation. The design option for the old-style AQA specification (pre-2000) was a job done in isolation and gave candidates the opportunity to create a set design for any play they were interested in, and to build a model box for that play, with the model box forming the performance marks.

Topics covered

  • Specification requirements
  • Choice of play
  • Notes and sketches
  • Directorial interpretation
  • Influences
  • Designing furniture and properties
  • Making the model
  • Construction and decoration
  • The portfolio
  • Evaluation
  • Images from the design project

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