How to Plan a Set for a Stage Play

Written by marisa hankala
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How to Plan a Set for a Stage Play
Creative set design can add to the audience's enjoyment of a stage play. (curtain call image by mrslevite from Fotolia.com)

Working with the director, the lighting team, sound designer and costume designer, the set designer creates a blueprint for how the play will look on stage. Planning the set requires a thorough knowledge of the script, an understanding of the director's vision, and the ability to create within the constraints and requirements of the lighting team and the costumier, as well as the resources available for building the set.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Script
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Graph Paper
  • Coloured Pencils
  • Computer Drafting Software (optional)
  • Cardboard
  • Glue
  • Miniature figurines

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Read the script several times and take careful notes pertaining to the setting -- time, place and weather. Review the need for furnishings -- for example, does the actor sit on a sofa, a chair or a rock?The storyline will dictate the need for props. For example, does the actress take her coat out of the closet or off a coat rack?.

  2. 2

    Meet with the director, lighting director, sound designer and costumier to discuss the vision of the play, any limitations and details so the play has a unified look.

  3. 3

    Create a sketch of the set based on the meeting.

  4. 4

    Measure the area of the stage and draw the area to scale on the graph paper. You can use a four block per square-foot ratio.

  5. 5

    Draw a floor plan for each scene using an above view of the set and clearly positioning scenery and furnishings.

  6. 6

    Draw the front view of the set, which shows details like elevations, platforms and windows, for each scene.

  7. 7

    Create coloured sketches for each scene. The colour and details should correspond with the director's vision for the play.

  8. 8

    Transfer the two dimensional drawings into a 3D model either using a computer drafting program like AutoCAD, or creating a model with cardboard and small figurines. This helps to visualise how the actors will interact with the set.

Tips and warnings

  • Communicate frequently with the director throughout the planning process to minimise having to redo your drawings at the end.

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