To start off, we’d like to give a big thank you and shout out to Morgan Ozenbaugh for writing this week’s blog post and taking all the photos!
“It’s all a challenge” says Andy Fitch, set designer for UA Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night, speaking about the show’s design process “and it’s all fun.”
Andy is currently working on Twelfth Night, a Shakespearean comedy, with UA Theatre’s adaptation set in New Orleans in the 20’s and featuring The Voodoo Saints as the show’s live band.
Andy pulled together approximately 70 images illustrating different aspects of his design ideas and the show’s setting as part of the research package. He met with Seth Panitch, the show’s director, to discuss the images and further refine the design idea. Andy explained, “that’s where the idea emerged that each house would be open air with bits of architecture in space.”
“I did this show, kind of, in an old-fashioned way,” Fitch explained as he laid out his hand drafted preliminary design. “Using a pencil lets me be a little more creative.” Hand drafting requires a high level of skilled artistic ability, and for Andy, feels more rewarding than some computer drafting programs.
Andy illustrated his set ideas, integrating the open concept design during preliminary drafting. This consists of a series of drawings including: a ground plan (birds eye view) and several front elevations (a drawing of the set from an audience member’s perspective). The design consists of three different two story buildings. With an open work style, the structure of the building and all of the ironwork seem to be floating in space. The audience sees right through the buildings to the hand painted backdrop
This is a painters’ elevation, a smaller, flattened version of the live set; UA students used this to paint the backdrop, covering the entire stage width.
The next critical part of the design process is modeling, as Andy builds a scale version of the set, complete with tiny people, chairs, and tables to show the director. The model helps Andy and Seth, the director, understand what all of the drawings will look like when translated to reality.
Andy designed the set with the intention of using some pieces the theatre already owns, “The more stock pieces you use; the better you are. If you use a 4’x8’ stock platform, you save $100.” But even with that amount of foresight, a designer always has to make adjustments to keep costs low and save precious build time.
The wrought ironwork for Twelfth Night, is a perfect example of the flexibility and adjustments that are required. Creating some of the more complex ironwork for the show required the help of the UA Engineering department, who ran pieces through specialized forming machines. As an unintended result of the process, Andy had to adjust his designs to fit the dimensions the machine could handle.
The set has been built on stage in the Galloway and Andy has seen his design slowly come to life! Now you can see the show itself come to life! The show runs November 18-21 at 7:30p and November 23 at 2p and 7:30p.