A Big Bakery
By John Holdun on January 18th, 2017
An article about Bobby’s Birthday
Welcome to 2017! I’ve been busy:
This is a full-size prototype of scene 2. All the figures are represented, although there’s no scenery yet. (Variable Stage superfans will recognize that dirty-looking backdrop as the painted mausoleum walls from Graveyard Swing.)
Since the last time we talked about the stages, I’ve refined their design: every scene is now five feet square, three feet deep, two feet off the ground. So far this seems like a nice, tight composition that also makes production much more realistic, since everything has to be squished a little. I’ve ditched the grid in favor of a consistently-sized deck that is small enough to basically support itself, and every figure and set piece will be built with stilts to set it at the right height while seated firmly on the floor.
I couldn’t get quite far enough away to capture the whole scene in one photo; here’s a behind-the-scenes shot of my ridiculous setup for this temporary stage:
I’ve lashed together two of the backdrop supports from Halloween and draped all sorts of materials over them. The real things will be sturdier, more compact, easy to transport, and easy to assemble: built out of PVC pipe, draped with muslin backdrops and floors, finished with a duvetyne frame. The figures will have cardboard cores but they’ll be bulked up with wire armatures, papier-mâché, and monster mud, just like last time.
In this scene we see the floor raked at an alarming pitch! This is inspired by the stage at the David H. Koch theater at Lincoln Square; I saw the New York City Ballet perform Sleeping Beauty there last year and was dazzled by the surreal perspective of all the sets. I’ve taken that idea to a ridiculous extent here, because I don’t need to worry about real people sliding down that slope. I’m hoping to find more opportunities to exploit forced perspective and wild angles.
The cake in that scene is rigged to move up and down; while the shoddy prototype mechanism fell apart in the preparation for this photo, I did get successful motion earlier in the week. Check this out:
You can just barely see a cam flapping around under the scene, there. It’s all made of cardboard, which worked for a while but needs to be sturdier now! I’m using a FrightProps deer motor which has proven to be perfect for my needs. (I’m pretty sure they’re called “deer motors” because they’re the same part used in these things).
What’s next? Great question. While I have this stage mockup set up and dominating my apartment, I’m going to build a prototype of scene 4, which I think is the most technically complicated scene (you’ll see why). Then I’m going to order more motors and sculpture can begin! We’re on schedule!