Saturday, November 10, 2012



Over the last few days, my scenic studio has been working like mad to create a series of stencils for the upcoming show at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.   (The White Snake -- see it, it's beautiful.)  We're trying to make some brand-new custom-built furniture look like actual antiques. I love this sort of challenge. But I'll admit that all this stencil-cutting is a bit hard on the body. I have to consciously unclench my jaw when I'm working, and take breaks so that my hand doesn't cramp.

I've been working with Margot, who did the scenic painting fellowship with me two years ago. She's wonderful. 

Apparently the carpenters, who were working on onstage notes asked Margot where I was, but when she told them that I was at the studio, making stencils they mis-heard her. They thought she said I was making stem cells. This lead to a strange line of discussion, about how we could stop building scenery, and just grow it in giant vats. But then we were left with the moral quandary of what to do when the show ends, and we needed to strike the scenery. Would we be murdering our own creations?

Even if it's stressful, and sometime tedious, my job is never dull.

So what do you think? Did we manage to create a surface that looks like it wasn't just painted yesterday?

Here's a bit about this particular show. I've had the pleasure and honor of working on several works by Mary Zimmerman, and I can say that they've all been glorious, highly imaginative, and very touching. If you're in the Bay Area, you really should go check this out.


littlemissattitude said...

That's lovely work. And, yes, it looks as if it has some age on it.

Makes me want to do some theater work again. I'm a total theater geek, backstage species. I've done props handling and set dressing for community theater as well as at the local community college and for a local semi-professional ballet company, but never too much building of props. I'd probably still be doing it, but I had to quit several years ago when I had to take care of my mother in the last years of her life.

I miss being involved in theater a lot.

zippiknits said...

Beautiful work. It looks great. You can cut stencils with a hot tip tool, maybe most of it. That can help the hand, and black or cordovan
shoe polish for a little aging but yours looks perfect. So much fun in scenic design. You have the best job in the world!

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

We often use stencil burners for cutting. In this case, we manipulated the source image in photoshop, printed it out on our plotter, and then covered the paper with clear packing tape. The stencil burner would have not worked well with paper. And it's not really the right tool for crisp, angular lines


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