So lately its been occurring to me that this blog is becoming less about props mastery and more about set design through the lens of props: or what a prop gives to or takes away from design in general.
I have to say, this was lately brought home to me in Mr and Mrs Fitch, when we had to address the “wall dressing” — read: pictures on the walls.
The set for Mr and Mrs Fitch holds the distinction of being the first set I’ve worked on where someone has asked to purchase almost every single item on the set after the production. Why? because its set in a totally baller apartment. Like, the apartment that we all want to have in New York, and never will because we are Theater Folk.
Anyways, the art on the walls was originally drawn in as large scale abstract paintings, and initially we discussed making fake ones to be there. As someone who loves painting and respects art, I know that a fake painting will never look like a real painting. Never, no matter what. Because when you make a fake painting, you are making a painting, and when you make a real painting you’re confronting the rectangle, or dealing with something internal… or something. In short, you are not trying to match a specific space, but you are creating a separate space.
So, what we ended up doing what having two artists: Ryan Ketchum and Pete Sarafin loan works to the show. This brings up a whole mess of other issues: you don’t want real art onstage during a carpentry or lighting call, you need to insure the pieces, you need to make sure that the artists are properly credited in the program and that there is information about the work (which is all for sale) available to patrons.
But after all of that, it is completely worth it. The paintings on the wall give a huge amount of depth and range to the set: they make it feel like a real place because they are real things. No faked painting can capture the way in which a real artist is using layer after layer of paint and finish, organizing and reorganizing on a canvas. A painting, in essence, captures the process and time put into making it, so putting one on a set (in the same way as putting a real antique on a set), gives it history.
Enough of my rant. Check it out: