Saying 'Buh-Bye' to Set Flats and Scenery Backdrops

Less is More

Saying ‘Buh-Bye' to Set Flats and Scenery Backdrops

"I can't find volunteers to paint flats on a regular basis, and we can't afford to rent those painted hanging backgrounds."

My two solutions:

1) Forget the flats. You heard me. Fuggetabouttit.

Direct your actors to "set the scene" with their fabulous acting skills. I attend a lot of blackbox theatre in Los Angeles. The venues are small spaces with black-painted walls (or solid black curtains). Sometimes a few, sparse set dressings hint at the scene. That's it. Not having a "real" set has never caused me to judge or think less of a play as long as it is a good play. Audiences expect to use their imaginations. That combined with good acting can transport the room to anywhere in the world.

2) A picture is worth a thousand words and then some

If your performance space is your church's sanctuary and it's got a big screen (you know, the one they project worship lyrics on?), use it for picture slides! Set the scene by showing an image or use text. No need to send out the men-in-black between scenes to tear down and reset. Just click the mouse and, voila! New slide, new setting. How sweeeeet is that?

Boatloads of images are available online. Or if you prefer a "custom background," have a photographer snap it. You can also use the screen to set the time: "The next morning…" or "Later that night…" The possibilities are endless.

Your audience won't care if a physical backdrop is missing. I bet you'll even get at least one comment on how clever you are to use slides. Less really can be more.

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