Anatomy of a Premiere — Part Four: If You Build It…


March 22, 2013 by T. Gregory Argall

“At rise, we are in a cheap motel room. Front door is upstage. Bathroom door is stage right. Downstage right is a small table. Two mismatched but equally uncomfortable chairs are at the table. A double bed is against the stage left wall. A small bedside table is on the upstage side of the bed, containing a telephone and an ugly lamp. Downstage of the bed is a closet door.”

That is the set description on the first page of the script for “The Accidental Hit-Man Blues.” Out of 20400 words on 140 pages, that’s all the detail I gave to the set. And I wanted to give it less.

The script is the frame upon which the director, producer, and cast build a solid house. All that is essential to the script is that it is a motel room and all the doors we need are present. Beyond that, it’s a matter of individual productions.

And so director Craig Strutt, producer Kay Moser, and set designer Cary Kann met to share ideas and determine what, exactly, the set will look like for the premiere production of the script. (No pressure, guys, but this is the set against which the sets of all subsequent productions will be judged.)

During the first full-cast read through of the script, Cary idly doodled this while having a snack and chatting with a pretty girl…


(Never go anywhere without a sketchbook.)

Tweaks were made and discussion was had and a final set design was chosen. It was time to start building. Just putting up walls makes a major difference as rehearsals progress. Initially, you’ve got this…

…but when you add this…

…and this…

…then your actors have the freedom to do this…

Rehearsal Rehearse_1 Rehearse_2 Rehearse_3…and that makes all the difference.

And so the work continues. The next step, of course, is to paint the set, gather all the small set decor items, and find the right furniture. Sounds simple enough, but it’s not easy to find perfect shade of cheap and seedy.
I can’t wait to see the end result.


One thought on “Anatomy of a Premiere — Part Four: If You Build It…

  1. […] I talked a while ago about plans for the set and interpretations of “a cheap motel room.” They built the cheapest motel room around and then aged it substrantially. This motel has been neglected for decades. Unidentified stains adorn the bed covers. There are notches in the headboard. A sweat-stain hooker-handprint is on the wall above the bed. Water stains drip down the wall from a leak in the room upstairs. An abandoned set of rabbit-ear antennae sit near a discoloured spot on the wall where a now-stolen television set used to be. The attention to detail that went into this set is incredible. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: