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A Question of Stageability and Set Structure  Rate Topic 
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 Posted: Mon May 18th, 2009 10:17 pm
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RTurco
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Mana: 
Hey everyone,

In my play, "The Red Crow", characters have, at times, a need to move from one setting to another rather quickly. I don't think that I should break for a new scene, but I devised an implemention in which the stage is divided into multiple sets and the characters can walk to and fro as necessary. Is this a feasable solution? If so, what would be the most comprehensive manner of writing this on the page?

~RTurco

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 Posted: Tue May 19th, 2009 10:39 pm
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HarveyRabbit
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If I were you I would just write the play with all the different locations you want and not get too bogged down with explaining how it might be staged. With a good director, set designer and lighting designer behind it, you’d be amazed how simply and effectively those issues can be solved.

H.

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 Posted: Wed May 20th, 2009 01:58 am
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solarcirclegirl
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I agree with Harvey.

Sometimes when I start working on a play, I will write everything down--and i do mean EVERYTHING--as it comes to me. That often will leave me with a crapload of stage directions and information on how I saw it in my mind, and then in the end, I cut it all out, because mostly it will all be cut out anyway by the director when it comes down to it.

Don't sweat that stuff. That's someone's job to worry about.

because, seriously, if a play about a Pollock mural getting licked can be staged then I think anything can be staged.

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 Posted: Wed May 20th, 2009 09:02 pm
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RTurco
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Mana: 
Thanks guys, that helped a lot. I was worried that not addressing this would affect my chances of getting a production.

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 Posted: Wed May 20th, 2009 09:47 pm
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solarcirclegirl
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Mana: 
sometimes i get blocked by thinking too hard about set. often i see 'unit set' as a requirement for a theatre to accept plays. I always wonder if that means it has to be a unit set, like only one place for the play to happen, or if there can be multiple locations but only one set that can be all those locations with minor adjustments. I usually err on the side of caution and stick to sending just the one set for the whole show shows, but i figure it's worth mentioning in case anyone has some input on this.


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 Posted: Wed May 20th, 2009 10:04 pm
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RTurco
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The most logical thing to do with this play would be to present the illusion of other small sets within the larger, main, set. It seems to flow easier. Thanks.

 

~RTurco

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 Posted: Wed May 20th, 2009 10:04 pm
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Edd
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Solargirl,

A unit set is as you said, ". . .  multiple locations but only one set that can be all those locations with minor adjustments."   Perfecty put.

Best,

Edd

 

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 Posted: Wed May 20th, 2009 10:11 pm
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Edd
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RTurco,

"The most logical thing to do with this play would be to" forget about the set and concentrate on the dialogue.  As everybody has said, in one way or another, leave it to the director and designers.  If you are in any way specific about a set, trust me, whoever produces it, if it is produced, will do what they damn well please.  Getting hung up on the set will only get in the way of any kind of flow.

ECW

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 Posted: Wed May 20th, 2009 10:36 pm
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RTurco
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...forget about the set and concentrate on the dialogue.

Even better. That just lifted a whole lot of apprehension coming from the fear of "unstageability". Dialogue and structure are what the directors are really looking at. Thanks again.

~RTurco

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 Posted: Sat Jun 27th, 2009 02:51 pm
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Beccabackstage
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Some questions on stageability:

How long should a scene be?  Is there a set number of pages or words or minutes?

If the scene is rather short, is it okay to have 8 scenes in one act? There isn't a whole lot of major set shifting in Act I. Just a few scenes which can have interchangeable sets.

The play I'm working on now is in two acts. Act I has 8 scenes. Only one of them is a bit long (page wise).  Act II is shorter.

Also, is it really necessary to start the play with a hint at the ending? I keep reading that plays should start at the end and then move forward to get there. Or is this one of those rules that's okay to break. (I love breaking the rules!)

Any advice is most appreciated.

Thanks

BeccaB

 

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 Posted: Sat Jun 27th, 2009 03:05 pm
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HarveyRabbit
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BeccaB,

Personally, if a story begins and I already think I know how it’s going to end, I lose interest in it altogether. I want to be surprised. Smash that rule into tiny pieces.

And you can have as many scenes as you wish, and they can be any length you want them to be. It’s your play. You’re the boss.

H.

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 Posted: Tue Jul 14th, 2009 03:50 pm
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Sam Stone
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Even if you go to great difficulty to choreograph the manner in which actors move from one set to another, doesn't mean the director will make it happen as you did or whether the set designer will make his/her set like you imagine... just write the play and good dialogue will drive the director, designer(s) and actors to do the right thing.  It's always nice to experience what others see in your play you didn't even think of.  That's why stageplays are a collaborative effort.

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 Posted: Sun Jul 26th, 2009 05:48 pm
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bobbichukran
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Playing devil's advocate here.....I had one supposedly experienced director who said he didn't want to do my Annierella play because he couldn't figure out how to do certain things I required....like, changing her costume or shoes!  In that case, he wanted me to write pages and pages of hints how they could do the play.  ACK.

So I suppose there are those out there who will require you to figure everything out, but hopefully, they are in the minority.

bobbi c.
http://www.bobbichukran.com

Attachment: found-paper-collage-4.jpg (Downloaded 33 times)

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 Posted: Sun Jul 26th, 2009 10:40 pm
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spiny norman
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just to add my two cents...

whether it's a stage direction or a set description, i often write "possibly" or "maybe" to show that i have a thought on the subject but it's only a suggestion - ie. "perhaps the man throws a dead seagull through the window" or "there might be a pool of blood dripping from the ceiling." then, if the director or designer has their own idea, they can use it but if they have trouble, i've given them a suggestion.

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 Posted: Sun Jul 26th, 2009 10:45 pm
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bobbichukran
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Good idea, Spiny!  I had gotten so  much advice here not to worry about it that I actually wasn't worried.  UNTIL that director started voicing his concerns. 

bobbi c.

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 Posted: Mon Jul 27th, 2009 12:16 am
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Beccabackstage
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What great advice I've received from this question! I am SO grateful for it.

I'm just moving right along with the snappy dialogue and intrigue and letting the director and others worry about  "the other stuff".  But man is this editing stuff WORK!

PS:Keep the good advice coming! I love it and appreciate it!

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 Posted: Wed Sep 30th, 2009 01:03 pm
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Kurt
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Last edited on Sat Dec 12th, 2009 03:45 pm by Kurt

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 Posted: Wed Sep 30th, 2009 01:18 pm
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Sam Stone
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I agree - either build a full set with all the trappings or do it minimal.

Anything between looks like you were either; doing it "Cheap," or don't have the manpower or imagnation to do it well.

Regarding bobbi's comment about the director needing instructions from the writer on how to make the set work, if he/she has so little vision as to not understand the needs of the set how can they properly direct the play?

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