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Technical Theatre Stage Design

Grade 12 Drama 30
March 6th March 27th, 2015
The Shirley Sovdi School for the Gifted
Mr. Matthew Fosen

Rationale The major focus of this unit is the designing of set pieces within the
context of a stage. I believe this unit will have many benefits for the students:

1. The students will gain an appreciation of the amount of effort and planning
that goes into set design. The students be shown through their own practice
just how much planning and effort is involved in creating a stage show.
2. The students will gain a working knowledge of the steps involved in creating
a miniature model for production. The students will create their own models
of the stage, the set pieces, and if necessary, the props for the show. This will
aid in the students understanding that there are many hurdles that need to
be overcome for the logistics of a show and a successful performance.
3. The students will have a working understanding of the moving parts
involved in set changes during a performance. The students will appreciate
the difficulties of working within a confined space and the limitations and
advantages of that space.
4. For students who do not wish to move ahead in the technical theatre stream,
these students will still gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of just
how much work is involved in making them look good.
5. For those students hoping to move forward in technical theatre, this will give
those students working practice with stage elements as far as design is
concerned, so that they are prepared for the challenges of either postsecondary education or field experience.
6. Create a portfolio piece for those students interested in moving into technical
I speak from my own experience when I say that I received no formal training in
technical theatre at the high school level. Had it not been for my involvement in
community theatre, I would have missed opportunities I think are critical for all
students of theatre, regardless of the stream they choose. As mentioned above, this
unit gives technical students practice and a great portfolio piece, and gives acting
students a greater appreciation for the work involved in making a show successful.

Unit Overview:

Day 1: Intro to Stage Design

Activities: Go over terminology (with worksheet at end to test formative
understanding), give examples and exemplars, both physical and digital, and
introduce the first assignment Backdrops
Aim: In order for the students to be successful, they will need to have a
base of understanding, and an ability to use the lingo of technical
theatre. Examples will be shown, both through a PowerPoint presentation
and through the use of actual physical manipulatives.
Learner Expectations: TRM: The following will be explored, researched, performed
and evaluated throughout the course of this project. For the rest of the unit
overview, when you see TRM as the only thing listed under learner expectations,
refer back to this list:
Theatre Studies 3, 9, 15
Technical Theatre
Properties 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 13, 14
Set 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25,
26, 27, 28, 29, 30
Day 2: Backdrops
Activities: Review assignment handed out last class, show examples, both digitally
and physical manipulatives, then give the students time to work on developing
their plans (backdrop sketches will be 6 X 9, presented in their sketchbooks, and
handed in for evaluation).
Aim: This is the first real work class for the students. Last class was
terminology, this class is about creativity. Using the examples provided,
the students will create a sketch for their backdrop. They will choose one
scenario from the list provided and come up with a creative way of staging
that scenario as a backdrop.
Learner Expectations: TRM

Day 3: Backdrops Scaling Up

Activities: Using the sketches created last class, the student will work to scale up
their sketch to an 18 X 24 canvas. Paints will be provided, and a full-color mock-up
of the backdrop will be created. Finished works will be assessed based on accuracy
to the original sketch. Instruction will be provided at the beginning of class on how
to grid both the sketch and the canvas to create a scale quickly.

Aim: The students will now work at creating a large-scale version of their
backdrop. Of course, due to the space limitations, they will not be going
full size, but the principle is largely the same. The students have the
entire class to work on scaling up their piece, and will be due next class,
so they will also have home time to work if they did not finish in class.
Learner Expectation: TRM

Day 4: Set Pieces 1

Activities: After showing examples/exemplars, the students will be tasked with
creating a single model sketch piece from a list of provided examples (such as
exterior of barn). The students will first sketch out their ideas in their sketchbooks,
then they will create a model of the finished piece, using the materials provided
(cardboard, foamcore board, masking and scotch tape, glue, pencils, pencil crayons
and paint). The sketch will be handed in, like the previous project.
Aim: This project introduces the idea of creating miniature models to the
students. Miniatures are a great way of representing the stage in three
dimensions, and allow the students to catch problems they might not see
with just an image (logistical concerns for size, moving and storage). The
sketch will be handed in and then compared to the rubric and to the final
miniature piece.
Learner Expectations: TRM

Day 5: Set Pieces 2

Activities: The students will be given the class to continue working on their
miniature models. The expectation is that the pieces are not only assembled, but
also painted in the colors they would be on stage. Again, the comparison from
sketch to finished project will be made, as well as a rubric for construction quality.
Aim: This is a work class for the students to finish their sketches and
create their miniatures.
Learner Expectations: TRM

Day 6: Set Pieces 3

Activities: Class time to finish projects, if needed. A class critique of the projects.
Participation in the critique is mandatory, and will be assessed. Students will be
asked to give at least two positive comments on two different pieces in the class,
and at least one to improve comment, structured to be a helpful, and not negative

Aim: Students will not only need to be finished their projects, but they will
be participating in the critique. The theatre is a very collaborative
process, and the students will need to learn to talk and work with others,
as well as give and receive constructive feedback. The critique serves to
create a safe environment for students to work on being collaborative and
involved in critical discussions.
Learner Expectations: TRM

Day 7: Scene Transitions 1

Activities: Using the piece they have created in the last assignment, students are
expected to transition from that scene to a new scene, again from a list provided.
If the student wishes, they can add pieces to the original piece to make it a more
complete scene, before they transition to the new scene. Students will be shown
exemplars and the various types of stage movement (Flyes, Rolling Pieces, Actor vs.
Tech transitions)
Aim: Students will need to create a working example of a transition
between scenes. In addition to creating pieces that can be moved or
changed, the students will also need to work on creating a consistent
scale for their miniatures to create consistency.
Learner Expectations: TRM

Day 8: Scene Transitions 2

Activities: This is a work class for the students to continue working on their
miniature set pieces. As with previous assignments, students are expected to have
a sketch drawn up in their sketch book, which will be hand in, the actual piece will
be handed in, and there will be rubrics for the sketch, the miniatures, and the
accuracy of translating sketch to 3D piece.
Aim: This is a work class. Students are expected to work with the
materials provided to create the set pieces needed to create a transition
between two scenes.
Learner Expectations: TRM

Day 9: Scene Transitions 3

Activities: This class is structured the same as class on Day 6. The students will be
asked to finish their projects, then the last half of the class will be devoted to a
critique. The expectations and outcomes are the same as on Day 6.
Aim: Much like with day 6, the expectations are the same. However, in
addition to those expectations and outcomes, there is the added outcome

of being able to witness if the student took the feedback from the
previous critique and used it or ignored it. This, in addition to the
expectations for speaking during the critique, will establish a strong
formative assessment on the students ability to collaborate with others.
Learner Expectations: TRM

Day 10: Final Project 1

Activities: Students will be given a choice of 5 different scripts. Each of these scripts
will have at least three different scenes. Students will need to sketch the three
scenes in their sketchbook, then create a mock-up stage, miniature set pieces and
be able to explain how these pieces transition from one to another.
Aim: The final project builds on what the students have already learned,
giving them complete creative freedom to interpret a script the way they
see fit, and essentially pitch their design to the class at the end during
the critique. In this way, it is like a simulation of the beginning of an
actual stage show, where they would be required to demonstrate their
ideas and skills. Plus this creates another good portfolio piece for
applications to either post-secondary or the job market.
Learner Expectations: TRM

Day 11: Final Project 2

Activities: This is a work period for the students. They will continue working on their
final projects, as explained above.
Aim: This is a work period, the students should be working diligently, as
time is always a factor in the theatre and deadlines must be met, as the
show must go on.
Learner Expectations: TRM

Day 12: Final Project 3

Activities: Work period for students; see above.
Aim: Work period for students; see above.
Learner Expectations: TRM

Day 13: Final Project 4

Activities: Work period for students; see above

Aim: Work period for students; see above

Learner Expectations: TRM

Day 14: Final Project 5

Activities: Students will finish up any work they have remaining, and then
participate in a class-wide critique of their project. As with previous critiques, the
students are expected to contribute, and should provide at least 2 positive
comments and at least one helpfully-phrased comment for improvement.
Aim: Being the end of the unit, this class, specifically the critique, is
designed to showcase all the student has learned over the last 3 weeks,
and give the students a sense not only of accomplishment, but a reference
to the progress they have made in a short time.
Learner Expectations: TRM

Rubric Assignment 2 Single Set Piece




Student has
taken extra
care to
make sure
models look
clean and
. Shows an
aptitude for
craft and an
attention to
set pieces
exactly as
they would
in largescale. Easy
how they
move and
interact with
the stage.
Scale is

work is
with few
errors or

work shows
potential, but
is held back
by hasty
technique or

work is
or sloppy.

Miniature set
pieces get
across the
general idea
of their
function and
show the
potential for
their use at

Miniature set
pieces are
ble after an
or do not
translate how
the piece
interacts with
the stage.

Scale is

Scale has

set pieces
or do not
function at
scale or
work with
the concept
of the
Little or no



and the
piece is
d to large
The piece
exactly like
and the idea
is easily
across into

with few

that make
the piece
harder to

was made
a consistent

The piece
looks mostly
like its
with only a
few oops
moments or

The piece
and the
sketch share
some similar
but only after
do their

The piece
and the
sketch are
two very
Sketch was
in the


Bellman, Willard F. Scene Design, Stage Lighting, Sound, Costume & Makeup:
A Scenographic Approach. New York. Harper & Row. 1983.
Clark, I. E. Stagecrafters Handbook: A Guide for Theatre Technicians. Second
Edition. Schulenberg, TX. I.E. Clark Inc. 1977.
Govier, Jacque. Create Your Own Stage Props. Englewood Cliffs. Prentice-Hall.
Payne, Darwin Reid. Theory and Craft of the Scenographic Model. Revised
Edition. Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Press. 1985.
Wilson, Edwin. The Theatre Experience. Fourth Edition. Montreal. McGraw-Hill
Book Co. 1988.