Risk assesment/Health and safety

Whilst planning a live performance I understand how important it is to take in to consideration the audience whilst desicion making, however you also need to be aware of the actors and ensure they are safe and any movement on stage does not cause them to be in danger of: slipping, clashing in to or tripping over props etc. I was able to discuss with other members in my group the risks of working on stage, they included:

·  Darkness – it can cause actors to become anxious as it can be dangerous to move around in blackout
·  Unstable screening – the immaculate sized backgrounds need to be positioned in stable as it changes during the performance
·  Using power tools for construction – for anyone taking on responsibility to use the tools they should ensure they are not left unattended on left plugged in. Helmets, gloves etc should be worn and lose items on yourself such as a tie, long hair etc are tied up.
·  Props getting lost, damaged or confused for its use – each prop is very important and is made for purpose
By thoroughly going over these risks my group and I were able to think of a few solutions which could come to our advantage:
·  Use of torches backstage during blackout
·  All stage furniture has a mark taped on the floor so all the crew can acknowledge where it is allocated
·  Scenery is braced and made stable
·  Usual health and safety rules apply to safe use of power tools e.g. wearing goggles, cutting away from your body etc
·  Props are kept on a special table and logged in and out by the prop manager
·  Have a first aid kit

Pre Production

Use of power tools
wear safety clothing/goggles
Cutting equipment
use cutting mats
Slippery surfaces
indicate clear signs
Use of paint and glue
use water based
Heavy lifting
work in groups, bend knees not backs
Ensure that plants are safe to use
make sure he had easy access to enter and exit, no sharps bits, did not get dehydrated if it got too hot etc


Stage blackout, tripping/falling/colliding
use of torches, all scenery positions clearly marked on the floor

Height hazard, falling off stage
use of barriers, clear announcements to cast/crew, pulling curtains during blackouts
Moving scenery around, position/remove/change
allocate specific job roles
Crowd control
controlled tickets sales, security, staff on the door, clear signs, research the seating limit in the venue, seating plan
clear announcement and signs, usual fire precautions
Props being misused/lost
keep props(inc. weaponry) on specific tables, keep a log book under control of the manager
Actors don’t get too hot
Have an interval during the production

By investigating the issues of risks that may arise we were able to come up with solutions. By doing this we had some conciliation that everyone safe. During rehearsals the procedure for if a fire alarm went off and where the closest fire exits were located were announced. Health and safety is very important and teachers have a legal obligation to ensure all backstage helpers, actors and the audience are in a safe environment


Stage Terminology

Stage Blocking
Stage blocking refers to the director guiding the actor’s movement and positioning on the stage. The term may be used during a performance of an opera, film, ballet or play. It is mainly used to ensure the actors don’t clash with each other.
A sightline is the line between the edges of the stage also known as the spectacle in a theatre or stadium or any sort of staging. Script writer and prop makers need to be aware of the measurements on the stage so that the stage isn’t too over crowded.
Stage Directions
A stage direction is simply the instructions written in a script to guide everyone in order to keep the show flow fluently. The directors are given in professional terms which include: upstage, down stage and stage right and stage left.
Upstage refers to cover the back half of the stage, in relation it is also used as directions. Staging directors are important because actors need to be able to know in which director they should approach and arrive so that they don’t clash between other actors. This looks very unprofessional during a performance which is why the term is used during the process. 
Downstage is the opposition of upstage, it covers the front half of the stage and similarly can also be used to direct actors.
Stage Right and Stage Left
Stage right and stage left is as stated the right and left halves of the staging area. All the stage terms cover the whole stage.

We use these terms in theatre becuase its professional and when you're in a real life working environment you need to be able to fully understand the terms. Saying just left or right on stage would be the opposite to the audience and when rehearsing this will confuse yourself and to whom you are trying to communicate with. All terms cover the whole stage so if one term is said you will deifnitly be on the stage somewhere. Its important for anybody who works in a theatre design or similar environment to be able to assertively use the terms without any confusion.


Performance types

What is a ‘performance’?
A performance is an individual/group’s involvement in an optional duration of entertainment. It tends to be a form of art which is where we get the term ‘performing arts’ from. It may include of a fast, abnormal, talented movement or a still entertainment, audio presented, ceremony. There are a vast number of types of performances such as:

·         Street performance/mime

·         Festivals
·         Bands/Rock/rap/pop concert
·         Dance

·         Ballet
·         Play/Drama
·         Musical theatre
·         Awards/presentations

·         Fashion Show
·         Puppet show
·         Film
·         TV show/quiz/chat show
·         Reality TV
·         Opera
·         Orchestra/classic music


Theatres including its appropriate staging type

O2 Arena
The O2 Arena, the world’s busiest arena since 2001, is a multi-purpose indoor arena located on the Greenwich peninsula in south east London.  The O2 Arena can hold up to an extravagant 23,000 people, which is why it is also one of the largest indoor arena in Europe alongside the Manchester Evening, News Arena (MEN Arena), the Lanxess Arena in Cologne and the Belgrade Arena. The O2 Arena is also able to offer an all-round stage and proscenium stage.

Hammersmith Apollo

The Hammersmith Apollo is a located in Hammersmith, London. It is an exclusive venue designed by Robert Cromie for major entertainment. It first opened as the Gaumont Palace cinema in 1932. After many changes it was finally renamed as the Hammersmith Apollo on 14th January 2009. It offers a capacity of: standing: 5,039 and sitting: 3.632 and is a proscenium stage.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

The Globe Theatre is a theatre associated with Late William Shakespeare. After being destroyed by fire on 29th June 1613, reconstructed contemporarily it was rebuilt and opened in 1997 approximately 230 metres from the site of the original theatre.  The theatre offers a capacity of 3,000–seated and standing.

The Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House is located in the district of Covent Garden. Being an opera house it consists of major performing arts. The Royal Opera House seats 2,268 people and consists of four tiers of boxes and balconies and the amphitheatre gallery. The Proscenium staged design is 12.20metres wide and 14.80metres high.

The Swan Theatre

The Swan Theatre in Southwark, across the River Thames from the City of London is the fourth in the series of large public playhouses of London after, James Burbage’s The Theatre (1576), and Curtain (1577), and Philip Henslowe’s Rose (1587-88).

Wembley Stadium
The Wembley Stadium is a football stadium located in Wembley, North-West of London and opened in 2007 on the site of the previous Wembley Stadium. By holding a capacity of 90,000 people it contributes as the second largest stadium in Europe and serves as England’s national stadium.

The Brewery Venue

The Brewery Venue is located in London. The Brewery has played host to many of London's most iconic events, from upscale state functions and company conferences to televised music events and discreet boardroom powwows.


In-the round Theatre

Theatres that include an in the round theatre is a staging with space in which the audience can sit on any side of the stage. This staging requires no stage curtain. The stage tends to be triangular, round, diamond with actors coming in and out through the audience from different directions or even from below the stage. The downside about having an in the round stage is that actors may struggle as they will be facing some of the audience at all times. Due to this the producer and director need to take a lot in to consideration regarding an equal amount of time to face every angle of the stage.


Thrust Stage

A thrust stage extends into the audience on three sides. It also links to the backstage area by its up stage. A thrust stage includes many benefits one being that the intimacy between performers and the audience, this can create a connection and makes the whole production interesting. Entrances onto a thrust are most readily made from backstage, although some theatres provide for performers to enter through the audience using vomitory entrances. By exposing all the sides to the audience excluding a backstage relies entirely on entrances in the auditorium or from under the stage. As the audience can view the performance from a variety of angles and perspectives it is normal for blocking, props and scenery to be considered and ensure that no angle is blocked.

This is a video made of images of thrust theatres and stages off YouTube.


Proscenium Theatre

A large traditional arched staging which is located at the near or front of the stage is called a Proscenium stage. The use of the term "proscenium arch" is explained by the fact that in Latin, the stage is known as the "proscenium", meaning "in front of the scenery." Ordinarily the audience tends to be raised several feet above front row audience level, and view the performance through the proscenium "arch" which is often has decorative architecture. The main stage is the space behind the proscenium arch, often marked by a curtain which can be lowered or drawn closed. The stage is used mainly for drama, plays, musicals, concerts etc.

This is a video made of images of proscenium theatres and stages I found off Youtube.


Professional Practice

Whilst studying about the historical context in production design I also interviewed a professional production designer who had been working in theatre, film and television since 1990.
What attracted you in to production design?
At a very young age I fell in love with the theatre when I saw my first pantomime.  Later on the years when I realized I had a natural ability for art and had a passion for theatre, it made sense to become a theatre designer.
What sort of problems did you encounter?
It is a highly competitive industry; you have to be really ambitious. In my opinion I think it is a necessity to include of really good skills to succeed, also, you work on a self-employed free lance basis which means you have to find your own work. You have to be disciplined with cash flow.
What qualifications did you take?
You have to have aptitude for art and design; it helps to be interested in history. The other qualifications are 3D design; this is the subject you have to be strongest in. She did a bachelors degree in theatre design, a master’s degree in film/TV design. She also did a foundation course before the subjects. All of these took her 6 years.
How much did you get paid?
The pay is very good in film and television, especially in commercial work. In commercial work, you can get over £600 a day. Because this is a free lance job, you have to balance periods of unemployment.
How do you deal with finding work?
You have to get yourself an agent to find you work who take a percentage of your pay as a fee. You should also network with the people in the industry.
What are the pros and cons of being a designer?
The good things include that it is extremely varied, you are always doing something different, and it is also extremely creative. You also get paid well when you are the head of the department. You also get to travel a lot.
The challenging part of being a designer is very high responsibility and stress; you also have to manage tight budgets and deadlines. The job is very insecure as you may not be employed for a long time. This is a very demanding job it may take over family life.
Have you ever had a bad review?
Once, it was a technical issue about sight lines. You have to make sure the entire audience can see the stage. However when you receive criticism you need to be able to handle it well, consider it in your next plans by improving it and take good care that it is does not re-occur.
What is it like showing your work to an audience?
It is very exciting, especially in some nights, when you sit amongst the audience and they have a positive reaction. You realize that you have a significant impact in how much the audience enjoys and understands the performance.


Continuing case study of professional practices: John Napier

Continuing my case study of professional practices I researched a set designer: John Napier was born on 1st March 1944 in London. He works as a set designer for Broadway for theatrical performances based in London.

He studied at Hornsey College of Art and then continued to study set design at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. Napier has worked for many notable companies including: Associate Designer at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Designer for the National Theatre and has also designed for the Opera House for Glyndebourne. Others located in west London also consist of him designing for Children of Eden, Who’s afraid of Virigina Woolf? And Jesus Crist Superstar. 

As he had completed works for many companies, Napier was quite well known and enabled himself to gain many big oppertunities to produce big theatre proctions such as Les Miserables.


Shakespearian theatre

The globe theatre was built in 1599 in London. It was related to William Shakespeare where many of his plays were staged becoming a common theatre space in the 15th/16th Century. The stage consisted of no seats as the audience were opposed to stand up in open air. Majority of the performances staged at the Globe were intended to entertain the Kings, Queens and courtiers in the royal courts and palaces. Due to the high standard and reputation only the best architects, designers and artists were requested to plan and design the sets.
The Italian renaissance is what we call scenery today. The rules of the designers used to paint 2Dimansial scenery in order to present a 3dimensional architecture illusion. Throughout the development of theatrical scenery consists of many artists during 1508 and 1638.
As I seized an opportunity by visiting Italy in February 2011 I was able to see example of the illusion in museums. The image below is an image I captured of an example I was very intrigued by the designs. I strongly believe if you were told that it is a 2D painting and not 3D I would not acknowledge it as it looks so real.

The English Renaissance
Inigo Jones born in 1573 – 1652 was an architect who was most commonly known in the 17th century for his name of being England’s first scene designer. Being inspired by the theoretical atmosphere in Italy he used the concept of perspective scenery. He created his own designs considering perspective setting via wings and backdrops.

The New Stafgecraft

Adolph Appia born 1862 – 1928 and Edward Gordon Craig born 1872 – 1966, who was a pioneer of modern stage craft, were two very create designers who revolted and broke the tradition in opposition to 2D scenery with illusional3D affect at the end of the 19th century. Their idea eventually became the foundation basis of the New Stagecraft.

Bertolt Bretch
In the 1920’a a german theatre director Bertolt Bretch strongly alleged that a ‘true’ act could be percieved from a very bare stage rather than being cluttered and incorporated with scenery. His belief influenced many designers to develop their own new ideas.


Production Designer

A production designer also known as the person in charge of all the tasks, challenges and obstacles that may rise and need to be taken care of. In the film/event industry a production designer’s roles are very important and include a variety of key skills, without a production designer it is almost impossible for a job to be completed within a time limit, up to a high standard or for something to run as smoothly as possible.

In the early stages of preparing for a show, film or an event the production designer collaborates with the director and other important crew members needed to establish specific aspects around each division of the project and putting it together. Regardless of how big or small the project may be, a production designer is always needed as they guide everyone included in the crew/staff to recognize an unfamiliar visual appearance of the project. Production designers sketch storyboards to communicate visual ideas of how they intend the set to look like. They also create a 3Dimensional model piece. However they do not design costumes as other this duty is done by other crew members.

Production designers consist of many important skills and qualities which are a necessity such as the following:

· a good understanding of production techniques and method
· a lot of creativity
· being able to look into detail within deadlines
· the ability to research what customers look for in a product
· the ability to use drawings, 3D models and computer designs
· a passion to make things look precise and perfect
· knowledge of a variety of props and materials
· a good team worker

A stable entry route in education to get into Production design is to achieve a foundation degree or higher national certificate degree usually in Production design/Theatre design. Although product design is an element in many other subjects this may also be useful. Training is normally given to someone without any experience, in many cases short courses are advised or given is places such as The Design Business Association, British Design Innovation and the Centre for Sustainable Design as they offer relevant courses.


Group Discussions

As I was part of a group alongside four other members it was important we constantly had group meetings in order to share our views, opinions , ideas etc. We were always able to input any information we wished to get across to each group member no matter how important it was or was not. By doing this it made a significant difference as we were able to aknowledge any problems which could rise and overcome them before they even occour.