Have you ever wondered how the set for a play is created? Who comes up with the ideas? How do they decide on the colors, and which props to use? Who puts it all together? Chris Fitze, our Exhibits and Operations Associate, has worked behind the scenes in theatre for many years and takes a leading role in set design here at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine. Here, he shares an inside look at the process of creating a set for our next show, Santa’s Reindeer Revue. (You can click here for show tickets and info.)
“Even though we are still a few weeks away from opening night (Dec 3rd), design and construction of the set for Santa’s Reindeer Revue is well under way! Reba Short, our Theatre Artistic Director, asked us to design a set that would be simple and allow a lot of room to play. After reading the script, we developed a concept that would allow us to travel to two different locations, while sticking to the same central theme.
Santa’s Reindeer Revue takes place in two very different places. The show begins at the North Pole, where Santa’s Reindeer are (what else?) playing games, and getting ready for their big night! The show then travels to the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, where the cast of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are well into rehearsals at our very own Dress-Up Theatre. At the climax of the play, we come to opening night. And, although this is still in the Dress-Up Theatre, the look has to be one of Opening Night – not of rehearsal.
For the North Pole, we decided to keep a very open stage with a few hints of the great outdoors. “Real” trees, snowdrifts, and a North Pole sign all indicate the location without bulking up the stage. This allows plenty of room for the reindeer to play their games without being hindered by an overcrowded stage. When the play moves to the Dress-Up Theatre, we came to the conclusion that because the actors are rehearsing a play about the North Pole, the stage could still resemble the North Pole, but with more obvious stage pieces. Tree cutouts, ladders, and Christmas lights half-strung let us know this is a production in progress. By moving the ladders, adding some curtains, and stringing the lights properly, the stage will “magically” transform from rehearsal to opening night (although a little quicker than in real life!)!
Sometimes bigger is not always better. A simple set allows the actors and director to explore the full area more completely, and relies on the audience’s imagination to create their own magic. Isn’t that what this holiday season is all about?
Enjoy the show!”