Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Final Evaluation

I understood that taking on a live project would mean taking risks in transforming a design into reality on a time limit, however this task also meant exercising a new level of conscientiousness, time efficiency and communication to minimise problems and aid organisation and hence, the realisation of the designs.
Creating the set design first definitely put greater pressure on me knowing that there was a strict time allowance as it was to be made. I did struggle at first with no real direction, but once Cubism was established I felt I found my niche and worked quickly to create a contextual design that satisfied both the Director and myself, that would also be within budget. The talk from Pamela Howard aided my experimentation in model making and this shows in my design where I have used alternative methods to create unique and relevant paint techniques. In the set's minimal format and from working with Richard I really grasped a greater understanding on the requirements of a sound structure, masking and an appropriate way to build a set.

In realising this design in a small space of time I really had to work hard, both mentally and physically to make sure it happened, from being at the set build and paint to organising extra people to help to ensure it was completed on time. In this case I really adapted to the extensive workload and enhanced my confidence in communication and presenting my ideas to ensure my desired result was reached to the best standard possible. As expected there were problems, for instance the curtain pulley requiring one curtain track meant an alteration in the set shape. Problems such as this have benefited my ability to make informed intellectual decisions as I had to alter the set yet be technically aware of sight lines and maintain the Cubist set aesthetic, in both shape and decoration, I clearly chose a successful choice as the final result hardly differed from my model. Communication in a live project is also vital, I made sure I was always available to contact and often on site so when problems did occur I could help smooth them over quickly. This is also relevant for costume as the WWI costume dilemma which could have potentially been huge, but being available for discussion recognised a feasible solution fast. Communication is one aspect of the project that I thought could be improved when it comes down to the roles of the technical draughtsman and I. Firstly, by defining the precise role of both designer and draughtsman so I was clear of my role from the outset as when our discussion did come around, it felt very late as they were caught up in the previous production which I felt meant that the time and detail in the drawings for this project were slightly lacking. This made things particularly difficult when we came to their absence at the get in, next time I would ensure I have greater contact from an earlier stage and throughout their work.

Working with Kokoro has definitely enhanced my professionalism as a designer in being respectful of their needs in my designs and presenting myself with experience at fittings and such so they feel comfortable and, importantly, enjoy being part of the production. Costuming them definitely added to the performance aesthetic uniting both action and music handsomely as well as continuing to set the WWI context of the piece throughout. This was a real challenge to my design skill being aware of their requirements as well as the impact the music has within the performance and how this should relate to its operation and appearance.

Undertaking the role of the designer has improved my ability to be specific and confident about what I want in the case of both costume and set in reasoning with the Director and costume makers. My intellectual decision making was also challenged in fabric buying for example, where I had to consider the visual of the design, character and budget at all times. I am elated with how these final fabrics looked on stage and translated the qualities I wanted to express about each character so well. The Costume Supervisor, Buyer and I worked really well together to be efficient and make final decisions that were true to the designs and to a highly professional standard. This tight team also aided my aptitude to cope with the immense stress of the project and maintain a positive attitude throughout.

I feel I have achieved a succinct aesthetic throughout both costume and set that are united and compliment each other perfectly in their contrasting natural and surreal qualities respectively. The design showed clear context and had the tales storytelling aspect at heart. The success of the realisation of my work is shown in their almost identical likeness to the original designs and evidenced further in the accomplishment of a fantastic production. I feel grateful to have had such a talented team to collaborate with that resulted in such a grand conclusion to the project. As a designer I have grown in confidence, ability and awareness of what is required to create a set that encompasses a clear operation, is feasible and strong visual statement.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Final Costumes and make-up

Here are the comparable designs and the realised costumes, their similarities are huge and it is only really fine detailing that has been altered, particularly in the case of the Princess. I am unbelievably happy with how they have transformed and I feel they all maintain the original character and essence of the designs and work in contrast with the Cubist set to show it's moralistic tale is also embedded in reality. 

Set Review

These are a few of the problems encountered after the set was set up in the theatre space. Firstly, where the wallpaper paste was drying beneath the thicker paper (which had still not fully dried after being in studio3) had shrunk so there was a gap and the paper was peeling of the collaged section. Will, on visiting the site, said the peeling idea was quite nice which it was. However, as none of the other pieces were peeling it looked very out of place so it is for this reason that I stuck it back up with tape. Sadly the join could still be seen but it was partly covered by the sign post which made it less obvious.
Another problem was with the height of the fascia's for the Pros stage  as they were slightly to tall to go beneath the mdf cladding for the top they were proud of it and being white underneath it meant that the paint kept very obviously chipping off. I made sure this was touched up before each performance which wasn't too big a job and it dried quickly under the lights.
The curtains posed a few problems as for a while they would not fully close even after trimming which looked awful. After further trimming and adding weights to the corners and removing the curtains and repositioning them so there was a greater overlap in the middle this problem was overcome.

The visibility of the band rostra was something I was concerned about however, they were all in view and well spaced and the touched up/aged chairs looked really good - toning in with the set perfectly. The lighting brought out the textures and caught the light of their instruments again linking it in with the rest of the set and definitely giving a WWI feel.

The blocks worked well and were operated by John, this really added to the story as it was as if he was creating the necessary scene for the next part of the tale to tell. In the end I am glad the boxes weren'y painted as I think it would have made them more restricted than maleable and if positioned wrong could have been confusing. They worked really well as they were and blended in with the pallets. John sitting on the blocks in different areas of the set for different view points yet wasn't in the way of the action. They also were great for creating different levels along with the stage and pallets. I loved how Doug used the Pallets as the road as I intended and made full use of its format - connecting the blocks into it's negative spaces.

The curtain system , once perfected, worked well although there were minor changes at first and again I feel it really added to the story telling feel and maintained Stravinsky's original idea of how the play should operate. It allowed for effective and smooth scene alterations.

I am extremely pleased with how my set looks and more importantly works, it is not far removed from my set box design so I feel my original design must have been good for this to be so.

Dressing room

Here is the dressing room arranged by Grace at the venue - this layout worked well and the correct information was displayed for the dressers with visual references to be exactly clear which we have learnt from previous tasks in this unit. We went by the rule that 2-3 people were allowed in at a time to prevent it becoming too crowded and less private. The rails for the Devil's changes were in the corridors that acted as the theatre wings ready for quick changes needed. This system worked very well.

Images for Devil's characters

Rail for orchestra with their clothes as it was during the performance

Hat box for John

Costumes for cast at the end of the dressing room

Shower room provided extra privacy for those who needed it.

Scene and costume break down of whole performance

Dressing notes

Critique of Performance

Having watched the performance Friday night, after the dress and tech runs I tried very hard to just sit and enjoy this one which was actually very difficult. It is impossible not to have a critical eye and be concious of all going on backstage. This was made even more difficult as I noticed as soon as it started that a leg had been moved in front of the Orchestra stand which hid one of the musicians which made me feel disappointed the whole way through. Despite this everything else seemed flawless to my eyes, minus a minor curtain problem! On watching this performance I evaluated the costumes appearance as well as the set and it's operation and here are the main points I felt worth mentioning:


Soldier: Costume looked authentic and designed and so like the design it was amazing, it was manipulatable yet also related the orchestra to the action.

Narrator: The tweed fabric we settled for looked great from the audience distance and combined with bowler and watch chain he looked the part of grandfatherly, smart and authorative. John looked so comfortable in this costume and it made his character all the more convincing.

Princess: Possibly the costume I am most pleased with as it glided with her dancing just as I intended when drawing the original deisigns, looking beyond elegant. It showed the expense, regality and feminity with a hint of lust with her red hair in the right levels and Rachel looked stunning. I am again proud that with the touches of Diamante and cape it looks regal without needing a crown and Beth's embroidery gave in an extra feel of expense, youth and set the era.

Devil: The only complaint I have for this costume is that it wasn't on stage ling enough and the red light detracted some of it beauty. There couldn't have been  a better outfit for the Devil's revelation and the cape and headdress there was endless extravagence, pride and victory. Her body moving under the suit was still creepy and she looked truly as if wrenched from the Earth.

Devil's other costumes:
Matched my early sketches very well and again really set the era, her body movement in each showed great character and I am especially pleased with the final busty look of the washer woman which was very convincing. The scarf continuation was subtle and clever which I really liked.

The subtle and limited colour scheme worked beautifully and tied in expertly with the costumes. The boarding and iron of the orchestra section linked to the Pros and gave a variety of interesting textures to attract the eye and react with the lighting.

Reflection: I am so proud of what has been accomplished from my original design to create a production that looks more beautiful and professional than I couls have imagined. I am very grateful for the team I have worked with who are all very talented and have coped so well under the stresses that come with this unit to make something so great. 


As I needed the props to retain the aesthetic of the overall design I kept a keen eye on them throughout sourcing and broke down the book, violin and hip flask myself. The trimming really added to the Princess's throw in adding a sense of luxury and decadence. I also made the butterfly from the fabric from the Devil's cape to tie them in in colour and the fabric moved really well. Steph the DSM was very good at keeping me informed with prop options and purchases so I could have my say which worked really well.

Butterfly looking a little sad after 5 shows and rehearsals!

Reflection: The props are key and from watching the tech rehearsal I can see how props that are wrong stick out like a sore thumb - the violin for instance looked far better broken down and fitted with the rest of the set/costumes.

Budget Review

Although the budget was more or less in John's hands I tried to keep a keen eye on it to be aware of what I was spending in context of the overall budget. Items such as the collage print outs cost more than expected but luckily I got a great deal on the CopyXL print outs after asking nicely, although slightly more expensive than the previous prints at £40 for two rather than £34.00 it was convenient at the time as they were on site and time was of the essence. I enjoyed having an understanding of the budget and it is lucky that we were able to re-use many of the In Extremis materials such as wood to create my set to safe a dramatic cost and keep it as close as possible to the right side of the budget. £2000 seems like a lot but when VAT is introduced it is used up fast. When I bought items I weighed up quality and price for a good understanding of value for money. I also have learnt about where to source items such as set paints (although I didn't but many Debs informed me where to buy them) and styrofoam for future reference as well as familiaising myself with how these companies work and their order system.