From Page to Stage: How We Design a Show

March 22, 2016

The process begins months in advance; we started working in November for The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, >help which happens in April, and in January for The Secret Garden, which happens in May.  In fact, I’m already lining up design teams for the 2016/17 Season so I can get cranking on it come April.

SG Design Meeting

The first meeting is all about the play, what it makes us think about, how it makes us feel. The director talks about what he wants to say to the audience with this story.  Most of the designers have read the play a few times at this point, and have pulled inspirational images as a way of expressing their design concept.

Inspiration 2

Inspiration 1

In The Stinky Cheeseman… you will notice found object sculptures in the set.  Brian Bembridge (Scenic Designer) found the images above inspiration for the found object art nature of the design.

Because video integration is so important in the storytelling concept for The Secret Garden, Jorge Cousineau (Scenic Designer) and Terry Nolen (Director of The Secret Garden/Producing Artistic Director) were more inspired by video clips.  There is a paper animation artist, Jaimie Caliri, that they were really drawn to.  I am sure you remember those super cool animated United Airlines commercials from a few years back (same guy):

AA Video


Once we feel like we’ve really landed on a direction in terms of design aesthetic we go into sketch mode. In the sketch for The Secret Garden you can see there is animation on the video screen center stage.

SG Sketch

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From sketches we move into plans. These drawings are in scale and help us know what to build and how it will be laid out in our space.  It helps the lighting and sound designers determine where to put the lighting instruments and speakers.  Here you can see some of the drawings for The Stinky Cheeseman…

Stinky Drawings

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Stinking Drawings 2

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Our fantastic Technical Director, Glenn Perlman likes to take what we call “Page to Stage” shots together. Here you can see Two Trains Running in sketch form, model form and full size.

TTR Page to Stage

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