Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quiet About The Set!!

I've been away for some time.  Been working on some things and now they are pretty much finished.  So....back here.

I saw Red Noses recently, and I definitely enjoyed it.  The main thing that struck me about that show was the near-total absence of a set, which reinforced a personal mantra I've long held:  Sets are nice, and they can definitely add to a show's production value.  But they're a bit of a luxury, especially in today's brave new economic climate where every penny counts.

We've had some tremendous sets at the Factory over the years:  Ren Faire, Dirty Diamonds, Among The Dead and Here Comes A Regular immediately spring to mind.  But we've also had a ton of hits featuring sets that were makeshift at best:  Alive, Being At Choice, White Trash Wedding And A Funeral, to name but a few.  In fact, when the Factory was on Loyola Ave., pretty much all our sets were but a suggestion.  Hell, for a few years we had one of our spotlights functioning from inside of a Folger's coffee can.  Many area high schools probably had higher "production values" than the Factory at the time.  Yet we brought the people in and made a little money in the process.  That's because the scripts were strong and the acting and direction even stronger.  In my mind, that's 90% of the battle right there.

I say this for no other reason than to spark a bit of a discussion here on the Factory blog.  Is a good set that superfluous?  Or is it necessary to raise the profile of a production and create a mood that goes beyond "gritty storefront"?  I turn this over to you, the Factory blogosphere.....


Colin said...

To me, a set needs to add to the show to be useful. I also saw Red Noses. With excellent acting and direction, not to mention a large cast in a small space, a set probably would have gotten in the way instead of helping the show. However, Red Noses made excellent use of props and costumes adding literal splashes of red and yellow throughout to enhance some themes. I think you hit on the point: a set can work or not depending on the show and people involved. Would anyone really go see Miss Saigon if there wasn't a friggin helicopter landing on the stage? Are you automatically a pretentious d-bag if you do Shakespeare with no set in order to be "modern?" But, like you said, can anyone afford a set nowadays? Hopefully we do the best we can with what we got.

Corrbette said...

It's a budget item that needs to be dissected when producing. Does this have to be realistic? No? Awesome. Let's save some money. For Frankenstein in Love, WAFF had almost no we could put more money into blood. For Mop Top Festival, Factory had a minimal we could have millions of talented people and a piano onstage. Dirty Diamonds benefitted from that elaborate set, methinks, so we could realistically get into our surroundings and be comfortable as an audience. We'd have to be - we needed the brain space for plot dissection rather than pretending a cube was a wingback chair. There were so many twists, we needed to know where we were physically, since mentally it was all up in the air (in the best way).

Beave, Colin...see American Notes and we'll discuss the set. New usage of Factory space. I see it. There. I said it. And feel better having said it.


Barbara said...

Corri, I loved WAAF's "American Notes" set. I loved the suggestion of rooms rolling on and off the stage.

I feel that if there is going to be a set, it better be kick-ass. Heaven forbid a set be distracting. If money is tight (and when is money not tight?) give me a cool suggestion of the set and my imagination will do the rest.