How to pick the correct set designer for your production.
A show’s design is one of its most important elements. It can set an atmosphere, establish an aesthetic or evoke a period instantaneously, right from the moment the lights go down and the curtains go up.
What’s more, the design’s props, flats, screens and furniture are often visible on stage longer than any of the cast, and the design can stick in the audience’s mind long after the show ends.
So getting the right designer is crucial. It’s got to be someone who, first off, understands the show that is being staged. They’ve got to understand the scale of the piece: is it for a proscenium arch in the West End, where every detail must be discernible from the stalls up to the gods, or is it for a 50-seat black box basement space?
A good designer knows how to work well with the rest of the creative team. After all, the worlds of theatre and entertainment are all about collaboration and interpersonal relationships, and the designer is a key player in the community that is created when a show is being staged. Part of that team approach is understanding how the design can integrate with every other element of the production.
Importantly, a designer has to be willing to compromise. In the budget-straitened world of theatre, often the initial grand ideas of the creative team have to be shaved back to match the budget.
On paper, it can seem like there is only one person behind a show’s set design: the designer. But in reality, getting from the point where a design exists on paper, or on white card, to being on stage ready for the first performance takes a lot more than just one person.
The whole thing has to be built, and the process of set construction needs scenic artists, production managers, set builders – a whole team of skilled and experienced people. Depending on the complexity of the set, the set builders may need to have rigging qualifications or bring people on board who have those qualifications.
Scenic construction has to be done safely, and by qualified professionals, and finding the right people can be hard. The Stage Directory can help, whether you’re looking to advertise your services or to find the ideal person for the job.
Beyond the scenery, there are also the props required for the production. Prop sourcing can be a tricky and time consuming part of the design process - finding exactly the right object that matches the aesthetic of the rest of the production, and at a reasonable price - but the suppliers listed on The Stage Directory make it easy to find exactly what a designer is looking for so that the finished design can become a work of art.