Set 2010

With the old set mostly destroyed by 2009, ravaged by nearly a dozen shows and a dozen different combinations, a replacement was developed ready for the 2010 performance of The Sorcerer. The design and construction of the set is credited to Michael Huston, Ben Whitelam and Chris Armstrong. This was collectively known as Project RESET.

Flat specification A

The set is composed of 8x4 flats as before that allow flexible arrangement. These are built to a heavier duty specification than previous versions. This was the first attempt at using computer aided design (CAD) in the actual measurement and development of the flats. For example, bolt holes are measured to a single standard so that flats can tessellate flexibly. The corners are also joined with dove-tail joints, which are tight fitting to the point where many can hold together without the screws! In fact this caused some hassle during construction.

5 of these were built ready for the Opera Society's production of Dialogues of the Carmelites in 2009 and these were

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Flat specification B

The 2011 performance of The Gondoliers, archways were built in the front of the set for the actors to walk through. These were built with the same grade of wood as the main flats, but the supporting structure was such that people could walk through them. Following the Gondoliers and ready for the summer show, these were converted into full flats with the addition of a reinforcement bar and a full sheet of hardboard. Should these ever need to be made into doors or windows again, this bar can easily be removed.

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Other pieces

Lightweights

There are an additional 5 "lightweight" flats that are built to the same specification as the 2005-2008 flats.

Doorways

There are two full double doorways + doors, built with the same grade of wood used on the A and B spec flats. These work best as double doorways and are easy enough to attach and mount properly, but they also work as single doors if they are put up against another set of flats.

Practical information

Doors are fickle beasts and need to be hung squarely to let them open freely. This often requires a bit of messing around and kicking to get straight but isn't generally too difficult. In the double-door configuration, not bolting the two frames together too tightly, and wedging a small piece of wood between them usually opens the structure out enough for free movement.

Doors can be closed by addition of elastic. Thicker rolls of elastic are better as very thins strips (ones that might be used in loose fitting costumes, for instance) tend not to be strong enough to keep the doors closed.

Open doors allow for full view of what is behind them to the audience. In many cases this might not be a problem as their angle and use might prevent anything too bad happening. However, it's useful to hand a curtain behind them. In the Opera Society's Die Fladermaus the doors had a curtain hung directly to them. In the 2010 Sorcerer production the curtain was hung 4ft behind the doorways owing to the more solid structure of the chapel.

Planned and unbuilt

Plans to produce single-door flats are available, but none have been built or converted. Similarly, 4x4 flats and triangle pieces have also been produced but were not required for The Gondoliers.

Uses and configurations

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The first use of this set was The Sorcerer. The flats were made to form a more solid (for a certain value of "more" and "solid") structure complete with roof. A concept design can be seen here.

For the Gondoliers the set was built in two "boxes" that had black flats behind and archways at the front. This gave the set some depth and interaction and was generally quite stable.

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For both Panorama and The Magic Flute in 2011, the flats were arranged in prisms and attached to wheels. This enabled multiple scenes and colours to be painted on each face and turned for scene changes. There is a problem with these things "wandering" if not aligned correctly, however.

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