Stage 6 Drama – Design – Set – Killarney Heights High School – Student interview

[MUSIC PLAYING] MAYA CHALLONER: I’m Maya Challoner and for HSC drama 2019, I did set design. A few of the experiences I brought from year 11 would have been the rotational stage that I used, which helped me for my year 12 project as I incorporated it into my set design. I also used techniques such as a multi-level stage.

I used recyclable products, as well as incorporating a really flexible space within a singular level. I thought was really important and I incorporated all of these techniques into my year 12 set design. I chose set design for my IP as I’ve always really enjoyed creating a 3D visualization.

Every time I go see a play, I’m always more focused on the way that the play is projected through the environment, and the set, and all that instead of the actual play. And I think that I’ve always really been into model making and architecture. I really enjoy that as well, so it all came together and I really enjoyed it.

I chose Debra Oswald’s Stories in the Dark for my set design. I really wanted to incorporate the use of the connection between fantasy and real life, and the impact storytelling and imagination can have on children. Due to this set being set in a war torn country, it’s all quite dark and I feel like my imagination is a really key point.

The main meaning of the correlation between fantasy and real life, I use this through a rotation stage and the use of lighting. So when the stage is flipped around to a certain side, it’s all quite dark and gloomy and it’s all cardboard. It’s really bummed out. But when you flip it around, there’s a projecting screen on the base and the front panel of the rotational stage and lights come on all around the outside.

So it creates a whole different atmosphere focusing on imagination and storytelling, which I think is really important in this play as it can be a really gloomy and dark. And I think that was one of the main meanings I wanted to show. My option choice never changed as I went into year 12 drama knowing that I wanted to do set design as I loved it in year 11 and year 10.

And my option choice never really changed, but it took me a while to choose what play I really wanted to do. I was stuck on maybe three plays for a long time and I never really had a set play in my mind. So that took a little while for me to choose. I ended up choosing the one that I did choose, Debra Oswald’s Stories in the Dark, because I really connected to it.

I really enjoyed the play. I really loved reading it and I think that’s really important for me to then go on and build the actual set if I really like the play. The main way I used my IP logbook in developing all my ideas is basically as a diary. I wrote down every single little thing, every picture I took, every step. I wrote it down.

All the mind maps, all the sketches. I think there’s like 20 sketches in there just from the beginning. I have everything put in there. Every idea that I had comes to my mind, I quickly jotted down to make sure that everything’s in there so I could refer back to it when I started constructing. I think that was really important for me, putting down everything.

It’s basically everything that I’ve ever thought of as in that logbook. So my logbook definitely kept me on track. I was able to flip back and recollect and be like OK. Well now, I’ve finished this. What do I have to move on? What are the steps that I said in the first few weeks that I needed to do now? And it definitely helped me and showing my ideas to my teachers, and my friends, and my family. And getting their feedback was really important through my log book.

The main challenge I faced when creating my set design IP was definitely time management. So by the beginning of my process in creating my set design, I was focusing a lot of my log book. I was putting down hundreds and hundreds of ideas, and pictures, and sketches, and mind maps and all this. And I never really started my construction process until quite a lot later on. So I think that that was a bit of a challenge for me.

A way that I fixed this challenge was by having a schedule and a really strict layout as to what I was going to complete in different weeks. So I’d be OK. By next Tuesday, I want the base of my set design complete. In three weeks’ time, I want to be putting the lights in. I don’t want to be still focusing on the little people or anything like that. I think having a really strict schedule to construction was really important for me.

The main structure that helped me in the making and developing of my IP would have been feedback. I think feedback structured the whole process. Feedback from friends, family, teachers– they can give me positive feedback and I know exactly what I need to keep in it. They give me negative feedback and I can take that on board and tweak a few things.

And I think that really structured my process in developing my IP. Another thing that was really helpful was my logbook. So I could look back and if I wanted to add something, I’d be like oh, I’m not too sure if I should add this. I look back and then I’d be thinking oh, OK. Well I said in April I don’t really want this, so maybe I should think about what I’m adding and it was really helpful in structuring my whole set design.

One of the main things I learned was time management and how important time management is, and to have a structure to your construction process. I think that was a really important thing that I learned and I wish I had known sooner. Another thing I learned is to, if you can, really go in and have a look at your stage.

So for me, I went in– I called up CMO center and I went in and had a look at the Everest stage. And I could see the measurements and the size and all the background stuff, and what was really going to affect my set design. And if you can’t do that, you can really research. There’s a lot of really good information.

You can get floor plans or you can get feedback from other set designers on what they struggled with or what was really good about the set. And I think that’s a really important thing to have a look at. It really helped me. Also, another really good thing is to talk to people at the theater.

So I talked to a guy that works around the theater and he was telling me all the practicalities, and all the measurements, and everything about the Everest Theatre the one that I worked on– and what’s good to know and what’s going to be tricky to work around, whether or not it’s too high or too low. Even the sight lines from all the different seats, I took pictures from all the different angles of the seats that are really important because you need to use sight lines in your set design. I think that was really important.

So the best point of advice I can give the upcoming year twelves doing set design would be to love what you’re doing to create a piece of work that you are really passionate and enthusiastic about. Choose a play that you love. Choose a stage or a set that you love and I think you can go on and create a piece of work that you can be really proud of.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

End of transcript

Content updated 22/9/2020