All the World is a Stage Design
By Beverly Cook, February 24, 2008
- High School
- People's Design Award
- Social Studies
Standard 3. Designs and produces informal and formal productions
Standard 3. Understands the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
- develop a deeper understanding for the traditions and celebrations that surround the Asian New Year
- collaborate with other students to work on the stage design
- work as a team to produce one aspect of a larger product
- participate in the design process from the first idea sketch to finished product
- art supplies - craft paper
- corrugated cardboard
- duct tape
- 2x4x8 wood
- stage design: the art of planning theater sets
- set: an artificial setting for a scene of a theatrical or film production
- pho: a type of Vietnamese soup
- mung: a type of bean, common in Asian food
- stage left: the left side of the stage (as from the stage, looking at the audience)
- stage right: the right side of the stage (as from the stage, looking at the audience)
- stage apron: the part of the stage in front of the proscenium arch
- proscenium: the stage of an ancient Greek or Roman theater; the part of a modern stage in front of the curtain
Have students research the traditions and celebrations of Tet* in Asian communities. Research may include interviews of members of a local Asian society, or museum, or of Asian students and their relatives. Share findings with the class in a story circle. Research is a very important part of the activity, as it will inform what images and ideas the students use in their designs.
Tell the students that the performance they will be designing a set for is a Tet Performance.
Each student can then choose to work in one of three groups:
Group One will design and create colorfully painted paper banners to be hung as overhangs. The banners should depict the twelve Zodiac animal portraits, six class years' and their corresponding zodiac animal (i.e. 2008-Year of the Rat), and three very large Happy New Years signs. Students working on the posters will need to research the Tet celebration, as well as the signs of the Zodiac. They should study the different symbols and design their banners based on their findings.
Group Two will design large props to fill the massive space on and around the stage. As a group, students should research the Tet celebration and traditions. Through their research, they should decide on appropriate props to create. Students should also consult with the actors in the performance to find out about their needs and how they will use the space on the stage. Using all of this information, students should begin designing the props. They should consider size based upon room on the stage, the needs of the actors, and also the view from the audience. Using cardboard and kraft paper, students can build their designs. Remind them that the props must share the stage with the actors and dancers.
Group Three’s task is to design a backdrop to hang behind the performance. Students must also engineer a way for the backdrop to hang depending on the space. Have the group research the Tet celebration. They should also meet with the actors and dancers to find out about the performance and the main themes of the performance. With this information in mind, students should design the backdrop. They should be aware of the scale of the backdrop from the audience’s perspective.
All groups should sketch their designs as a rough draft. Once the rough draft is complete, each group should critique the others. Changes should be made and then performers should critique the designs. Once changes have been implemented, students can begin implementing their designs.
What was your role in the group and how did you contribute to its effectiveness?
How is collaboration and teamwork important in stage design? Provide an example from this experience.
What is one thing you have learned about yourself, your peers, and the culture studied that you did not know and were surprised to learn?
Enrichment Extension Activities
The students were very successful in part because they were allowed to choose which group they worked in, thus matching their skills with the work to be done.
A written assessment was more informative than a standard rubric because it lends itself to reflecting upon personal experiences throughout the whole process.
Students need to revisit the difference between consensus and majority rule.
Instructional strategies such as conducting interviews and communication opportunities between the groups were most effective.
If given additional time, I would incorporate more elaborate materials i.e. papier mache into the prop design.