Phobia Scenic Design Process Journal – Stagecraft


For this assignment, the task is to design a scenic piece inspired by a phobia. The phobia I chose is the fear of clouds, also known as nephophobia. When I was first brainstorming for my design, the idea that initially inspired me was airplanes; specifically looking out of the airplane window at all the clouds. This idea connected with nephophobia for me because it gave me the impression of being “stuck in the clouds”, which I think wouldn’t be very pleasant to someone who is afraid of clouds. Because of this, I chose to design the set as if the audience were looking out of an airplane window.

The stage configuration I chose to base my design on is a proscenium; I chose this configuration because I thought it would work best with my concept. To begin with, the proscenium arch is meant to be the airplane window frame, representing the airplane window point of view. I created the frame using Styrofoam board, measuring and cutting it to the desired dimensions, and then painting it with a couple of layers of white paint. Next, for my “stage floor” – all students were given the same wooden platform to use – I decided to use it to represent the sky. Referring back to the idea of being stuck in the clouds, I thought that having the stage floor be the sky would show a disconnect from the rest of the world; nowhere else to look or escape to. To portray this, I painted the wooden piece in different shades of light blue and white. Moving on, ‘upstage center’ of the stage floor is an airplane wing that I had shaped out of clay. I chose to include this airplane wing to create a more realistic representation of what looking out of an airplane window looks like; when you are looking out of an airplane window, the wing of the plane can still be seen. Also, I chose to shape it out of clay to add more texture and dimension to the set, rather than that painting the wing directly onto the wooden piece. Behind the wing hangs clouds, made of pillow stuffing, positioned and glued onto two wires. This is done in a way so that the clouds appear to be floating in mid-air when looking at the set from the front. To stabilize the cloud structure, I glued two popsicle sticks onto the wires on the bottom of the wooden platform, unifying the wires and the wood. In terms of placement of the actors, I wanted to play with the idea of scale, so I placed my actor figurine onto the wing; I imagined that if this were to be used as a life-size set in a real play, the actors would only walk on the wing, or else they would fall.

Looking at my design, I think something I am proud of is the appearance of the clouds. The idea of how to arrange the clouds just came to me out of nowhere one day; I chose to stick with it, and even though I faced challenges along the way – such as the wires falling off due to glue drying – I think it turned out successful. However, there are also things I believe I can improve. One thing that I definitely would try to improve is the airplane wing. I struggled quite a bit to shape the airplane wing, having made two other failed attempts before making the one that is currently in my design. I think the overall look is decent; however, I think it should be a bit bigger, and I could’ve spent more time perfecting it. Nonetheless, I am proud of the overall appearance of my scenic piece, as I think I was able to somewhat capture the vision that I had in my mind when first brainstorming.

From this experience, I have learned about the theatre process because I have noticed the aspects that one must consider when creating a scenic piece. Some of these aspects include where the actors will be, what the audience will see, and what effect the material and arrangement of the sets have on the audience. Creating this scenic piece helped me go through some of the theatre process on a smaller scale, which could be helpful for the future if I ever wanted to create scenic pieces. It was also helpful for if I ever have to create a model of some sort that is trying to represent a concept – in this case, nephophobia. Finally, this project allowed me to gain an appreciation for all the thought and effort that scenic designers put into their scenic pieces.

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