Thursday, 28 September 2017

Set building is underway...

The set and costumes are coming together!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Design trainee: Tony

Tony is one of our 6 Hidden Spire Trainees. He’s been working with Nomi Everall as the Set Design Trainee on Sawdust.

Over the last two weeks he helped create the model box of the set and then presented it to the team.

We are day 2 of rehearsals. Tony tells us what he’s been doing this week:

"I have made the steps and the platform for the section over the door. I was screwing it all together – checking the screws are at the right angles, filling in the screw holes. 156 screws -we have 416 to put in!

I am getting really excited now all the time. I’m really looking forward to painting the set. These steps will be red and yellow maybe with a star in the middle. The platform will be all black with bare wood on the side.

I am really looking forward to explaining to people what I did. I’ll be there at the Q& A after the show on Thursday.

Yesterday I went to the shop and I bought a bird box and table – I can use my new found carpentry skills to make it for my garden."

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Set design, part 2

The model box for the set has arrived!

Designer Nomi Everall has produced a scale model of the set for Sawdust. Book now to step backstage and see a new side to the circus.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Set design

 Nomi Everall has been working with clients of the national homeless charity Crisis to design Sawdust. She tells us more about the process.

I joined the Hidden Spire team just in time to attend the first read-through of the draft script and I was immediately excited by the world in which the play is set – backstage in a run-down circus that, although fraying at the seams, retains the faded remnants of its former splendour.

What captured my imagination most was the opening stage-direction which asks for the circus world to be formed live on stage by the performers, in front of the watching theatre audience, from the blank canvas of a “bare stage”. Transformation is a wonderful design challenge and from the outset I was keen that the audience would not arrive into an empty theatre space, but into a completely opposite sort of world to the circus – more ordinary, more everyday – out of which the circus could, hopefully surprisingly, be constructed.

Working with Crisis clients over five weeks of design sessions we began by thinking about the shapes, structures, colours and textures that epitomise ‘circus’ – what was essential in the visual picture for our audience to get a real sense of being backstage in a Big Top? We researched vintage and modern circuses and identified those iconic elements which most immediately place us in that world – the shape of the circular big top tent and its supporting tent poles; the prominent, curtained doorway to the circus ring; plinths and rostra emblazoned with stars and stripes; the ladders and high wires of the aerial acts; elaborate signs edged with lights; bunting and, of course, sawdust.

From there we began to work backwards – how could these circus elements emerge from a different type of place? And where or what would that different place be? We thought carefully about the opening scene, where we see characters swaddled and invisible upside down inside sleeping bags performing a surreal, almost dream-like, dance number. Where did that suggest we are when the play starts? Suggestions included a military encampment, a campsite in a field, a city street/wasteland, a shanty town. We thought practically too about how we could design and build structures that could be moved or changed by performers from one thing into another – one world hidden inside another, ready to pop-up, unfold, unfurl or be revealed. Some ingenious ideas emerged which were captured in drawings, story-boards and 3D 1:50 scale-models by the Crisis clients involved.

Inspired by their ideas, I then developed a final design in which we start from a world which is part make-shift encampment, part junk yard – a dumping ground in which our sleeping-bagged figures have made themselves tent-like homes from scrap wood and canvas. But amongst all the chaos, the elements of our Circus are there already, waiting to be hoisted up, thrown open, lit up or simply seen from a different perspective; in a different context. We hope you find the transformation as fascinating and surprising as we’ve imagined it to be and it fills you with a little bit of the wonder we all associate with going to the Circus.

Crisis clients will be involved in the building, painting, set-dressing and stage-management of this set as well as in the design process. Their imaginative ideas and hand-on hard work have been instrumental in the final set design as you will see it in the show.

Sawdust runs 11 – 14 October, 7.30pm. Tickets are £12/£10. Click here or ring 01865 263990.