Dear internet, last month I spent about a brazillian hours painting one canvas tower, four permanent flats, and four 8 feet by 4 feet double-sided rotating flats for a director friend’s production of Rapunzel. The show was written and performed by adults for children. Dan did most of the design, and a good chunk of that was done remotely and then emailed to me, which I printed out on our crappy out-of-warranty-too-expensive-to-fix printer, and did a whole bunch of math to blow up and be three separate scenes.
The tower was pretty much all my own design (!) and was painted on a large piece of painter’s dropcloth canvas. Let me tell you, that stuff SOAKS up the paint. I played around a little bit trying to figure out a good way to show the perspective of the height, and I think I did pretty well, all things considered. During the show, Rapunzel’s hair was let down from the balcony behind the tower and both the Prince and the Witch used it to swing behind and allow the kids to imagine them climbing it and into the arch window.
The permanent flats, of which I have no “before” photos, feature three stone walls and one window archway. Dan freehand painted the stove.
The rotating flats were HUGE and HEAVY. Good lord, so heavy. I’m pretty strong, but the weight and size of those things were so ridiculous that I could hardly shove them around by myself, and trying to lift/move them alone was impossible. Plus, a fair amount of the work had to be done while they were laying flat, and I had bruises all over my feet and ankles from accidentally kicking or trying to move them with my feet.
One side was the witch’s garden, of which I am particularly proud because I figured out how to do the gate and the placement of everything and the shading all by myself.
The other side was the interior of Rapunzel’s tower room, with two bookshelves that took about a million years to paint and detail, and a fancy princess bed (that, again, Dan freehand painted. Like you…do?).
The director’s sister spent HOURS doing the gold lettering detail on the books, and I spent HOURS just figuring out the correct angles at which to draw the bookcases to make sure they’d look right from the audience, according to my crappy printout of Dan’s drawings. But they looked great on the stage!
The show opened on Friday morning to a crowd of nearly 300 children, and as a thanks for our work, my friend gave us two tickets so we could go see the show on Saturday. While I was tickled to see all those many many hours of work in action (we were in the program!), the best part was watching the kids get into the show and seeing the adult actors interact with them.
I love the idea of a theater production that’s specifically designed to be accessible to people of all ages, and I love that Actor’s Theater For Children has been doing it for nearly 40 years!
The only downside is that all those hours of work, not only designing/painting the sets but script development, costumes, rehearsals, and everything else that goes into a production like this will all be done after next weekend. The company will paint over these flats for their next show. At least I’ll know they lent atmosphere to a great production, and someday if someone asks me if I’ve ever painted/designed sets for a play, I can say WHY YES I HAVE.