Rehearsal Diary Three

Realising the set

Members of the Measure for Measure team meet to discuss set realisation. This is the process of creating a real-life version of the set model agreed in August. The set must be functional, and safe for the actors and crew. And it needs to provide the desired backdrop to the dark and dangerous world of Shakespeare’s play.

With a tight budget to stick to, the set-building team will try to use items already in stock wherever possible. Often, they will have to adapt bits of set from other shows. This theatrical recycling requires an in-depth knowledge of the Questors’ workshop, a veritable treasure trove of what looks, to outsiders, like a large collection of bits of wood.

The cages provide the first test. The plan is to have two of these, each measuring  3m by 3m by 0.5m, built with scaffolding or aluminium, covered by black mesh.
Each cage will have a set of wheels so they can be moved quickly and easily between scenes.


The cages will be covered by black mesh, used to create dramatic lighting effects that will contribute to the claustrophobic, nightmarish quality of this Measure for Measure.

At the meeting the team discuss the weight of the cages, their manoeuvrability, and how noisy it will be to move them.

At the back of the stage there will be a window, another opportunity to create atmosphere. The team decide to use flats to create the rectangular framework. (A flat, short for ‘scenery flat’, is usually made of wood, painted and positioned on stage to give the appearance of buildings or other background.) The team will do a test assembly to see if the proportions work before adding the final touches.

A few wooden blocks, moved between scenes, will provide all the necessary furniture. There are a number of blocks of the right size in stock, but they have lids which need to be adapted, and hand holds need to be cut in the top. Still, it is cheaper by far to make these adjustments than to start from scratch with new materials.

Once construction is complete, the next stage will be the get-in, when the set is moved into the Judi Dench Playhouse.

Book tickets for Measure for Measure

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